The Late Chosŏn period saw significant social changes, one of which was increasing urbanization. The capital Hansŏng, in particular, grew in both the size and diversity of its population. It is often said that Buddhism in the Chosŏn period catered to the lower classes and withdrew from the cities to the mountains. Though this is true to a degree, Buddhism continued to serve the urban city population, including the women’s quarters of the royal palaces as well as men of different social status groups. This article argues that well-connected priests like Namho Yŏnggi (1820–1872), who maintained relations with elite yangban and educated commoners, primarily addressed literate urban dwellers. Namho Yŏnggi was the author of two Buddhist songs in the kasa form, and one of these, “Changan kŏlsikka” (Song of Begging in the Capital), may be seen as a Buddhist counter-attack against the dominance of Confucianism, and even as an appeal to the educated for a symbolic reconquest of the centre of the nation.


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pp. 85-103
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