Confucian academies (sŏwŏn 書院) became in post-liberation North Korea subject of a complex political and intellectual debate motivated by the needs of the new regime to reevaluate the Korean past according to the ideological framework of Marxism-Leninism. Confucian academies were designated as institutions belonging to the past feudal order and as such their traditional functioning was severed and liquidated. On the other hand, they were to a certain degree recognized as cultural relics belonging to the people of the DPRK, and North Korean scholars have devoted considerable effort to describing the role of Confucian academies within traditional Korean society. The present study analyzes North Korean discursive strategies concerning Confucian academies during the 1950s and 1960s. It focuses on both popular and academic depictions of these educational, religious, and political institutions.


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