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Articles A Yangban Organization in the Countryside: The Tansöng Hyang'an of Mid-Chosön Dynasty Korea Fujiya Kawashima 1 he yangban kept their villages and walled town in peace and order during the mid- to late Chosön dynasty. An important organization that helped the village yangban maintain their identity as the local leaders was a hyang'an. As much as the prominent local businessmen today join a Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce in their home town, the prominent yangban joined a hyang'an in their home county. The literal meaning of a hyang'an is local roster. It consists of a series of rosters that were compiled at certain intervals over time and preserved with great care by a local elite kin group for generations. When a group of the yangban residents was newly admitted to membership, a hyang'an was handwritten, sealed with glued paper, and stored in a locked building at the Local Bureau (hyangch 'öng) in the magistracy compound (amun) and sometimes in a small building at the local government school (hyanggyo) outside the walled town. Only yangban were admitted, and once they entered into a hyang'an, This article is based on the paper read at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Washington, D.C, in March 1984. 4 Journal of Korean Studies they had life tenure unless they violated the rules and regulations (hyanggyu, ibiii). They held general meetings (hyanghoe) and elected officers to manage their group activities and to assist the magistrate's local administration.1 In essence, the rosters were informal documents that were prepared internally by local residents and tacitly endorsed by the local magistrate as a list of elite residents organized into a voluntary association to enforce customary law and Confucian values. The rosters were not printed before the nineteenth century and the originals were and still often are guarded in secrecy by descendants for fear of abuse and forgery. For modern historians, the hyang'an is an important but much neglected local document that can shed light on the identity, the structure, and the function of the yangban residents in their home counties. This paper will examine the rosters of Tansöng County (hyön) in southern Kyöngsang Province from the seventeenth to the early eighteenth centuries. The originals of these valuable documents are still intact and locked in a small storage hall called Hyang'andang at the Tansöng local school (hyanggyo). The rosters used for this study were prepared by Mr. Kwön Pukkun, a senior descendant of hyang'an members who is now in charge of the Tansöng local government school.2 Fortunately these rosters can be studied against the official census registers (hojök) of Tansöng.3 Specifically, one can locate the hyang'an members' households in the census registers and examine them over time in the context of the total household population at the county and the village levels (hyön, myöng, li, or long). The original census registers of Tansöng are stored today in the locked left room of the same Hyang'andang and their photocopies were published in 1980. This paper will focus on the social and cultural functions of the hyang'an, and does not discuss the political and administrative functions that the hyang'an sometimes played in 1.On the hyang'an rules and regulations, see Tagawa Közö, "Richö no göki ni tsuite" [On the local rules in the Chosön dynasty], Chosen Gakuhö (Tenri, Chosen Gakkai), nos. 76, 78, 81, 1975 and 1976. He examined the rules of fifteen hyang'an, eight of which originated in the period before 1600. Kim Yöngdök, Hyangch'öng yön'gu [A study of the local bureauj (Seoul: Han'guk yön'guwön, 1978), pp. 35-42, 181-207. Also idem, "Hyangyak kwa hyanggyu" [Local agreements and local rules] in Han'guk saron (Seoul, Kuksa p'yönch'an wiwönhoe), pp. 216-36. Also Song Chut'ak, "Uam Song Siyól kwa Hoedök hyang'an" [Song Siyöl and Hoedök hyang'an\ in ibid., pp. 237-61. 2.1 wish to thank...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 3-35
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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