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The most formative event for Buddhism of the Chosŏn period (1392–1910) was not state suppression; rather, it was the severance of official recognition and state patronage of the monastic community. Unlike in the Koryŏ period, the identity of the monastic community during the Chosŏn period was mainly determined not by its relationship with the state, and financial support and social legitimation were obtained from the unlikely support of the Chosŏn socio-political and cultural elites. It was a move to secure its survival wherein the monastic community turned to perhaps a familiar source of support. If we move beyond traditional notions of Buddhism as a system of doctrines and teachings, or else one largely consisting of a set of popular religious practices, and instead look at its institutional and cultural activities, we can witness the re-emergence of Buddhism in the late Chosŏn period. Here we find that Chosŏn Buddhism was in fact more established than previous studies have concluded. Institutional and cultural activities of monastic Buddhism were central in establishing the religion’s social legitimacy, especially in connection with the Chosŏn sociopolitical and cultural elites and their support, both financially and through their participation in temple works. The temple culture in which the socio-political and cultural elites took part offers insights into the development of Buddhism during this period, as such developments became the foundations for a new form of Buddhism. Quite different from the Buddhism of Koryŏ, which was heavily characterized by state patronage, Chosŏn Buddhism was decisively determined by its relationship with socio-political and cultural elites.