* Date : 2013-12-19
A Sanctuary of Well-rounded Education Seowon
There is probably no other country in human history that has been as deeply influenced by Confucianism than Joseon.
The present economic success enjoyed by Korea has been achieved through a strong emphasis on education and pursuit of knowledge throughout society. This culture began during the Joseon Dynasty.
During the Joseon Era, scholars pursued knowledge as a way to become ethical and act in virtuous ways in contrast to present times in which Koreans seek to acquire professional knowledge and skills to accrue wealth and higher status. Literature, history and philosophy were the main focus among Joseon scholars. This was mainly due to the need to maintain an ethical and stable society in that era.
Seowon (Confucian school) was the place where knowledge was acquired and expanded in the Joseon Era. The effort to expand knowledge among scholars led to closer clanship, more prestige, and political gain.
But there was more to it than this.
- Foundation philosophy of Cheoninhabil ("The heavens and humans are one") underlies Confucian perspective of nature.
- Establishment of private institution for a whole-rounded education offered to the ruling class
- Political base camp for local Seowon schools
- Offered services akin to a local cultural center
Thus, the Seowon was a reservoir of diverse cultural content. Due to turbulent times that engulfed the Joseon kingdom at the turn of the 20th century, it was difficult for Seowon schools to maintain their institutional capabilities. Despite this, Seowon schools created intangible and tangible value that humankind should try to share and pursue today.
The history of Seowon schools that began 500 years ago has been reinterpreted in a modern perspective. The value created by Seowon schools are still applicable in present times, and it has been translated for viewers to convey its essence.