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This article explores an East Asian parallel to the "structural transformation" of the European public sphere and civil society by studying private academies and Confucian literati petitions in Chosŏn Korea from 1506 to 1800. During this period, the Confucian literati emerged as the new public and challenged royal authority, engaging in a broad range of public activities through the academies and petitions. Voluntaristic and nongovernmental connections of private academies reveal aspects of a nascent civil society, whereas the rational-critical nature of petitioning indicates the formation of the public sphere in Chosŏn Korea. This analysis demonstrates a close historical association between the evolution of private academies and the development of petitions. This historical interplay confirms Jürgen Habermas's thesis that the public sphere arises from civil society.