• History of Korea
  • Ⅳ. The Establishment and Development of the Aristocratic Society of Goryeo
  • 3. A Society Ruled by Military Officials
  • C. The Rule of Civil Officials Ends and That of Military Officials Is Launched

Goryeo was a society ruled by civil officials. Although the civil officials enjoyed all kinds of privileges, the military officers were discriminated against. Even in the civil service examination, there was no exam recruiting military officers. In the government grants of land, the military officials received petty allotments. The post of commander-in-chief during wartime was also held by a civil official. The military officials were required to serve as escorts for civil officials and were often looked down upon by them. While the king enjoyed banquets with the civil officials, the military officials were relegated to guard the king, often without partaking in the food. In particular, lower ranking military officers, handling all kinds of miscellaneous duties, suffered greatly.

Military officials became disgruntled for the indignities and discrimination they were forced to suffer in the political framework that favored the civil officials. Such discontent finally exploded during the reign of King Euijong, who continuously engaged in a life of pleasure, along with the aristocrats.

In the autumn of 1170, King Euijong made a royal progression to Boyeonwon Temple in the company of civil officials. On their way, the civil officials made the military officials hold martial arts contests for their enjoyment. One civil official struck an old general in the face and humiliated him. The rage of the military officials, who were watching, burst, igniting a military revolt. The military officials led by Chung Jung-bu killed the civil officials, then seized power and enthroned a new king. This marked the advent of a new order dominated by military officials.
However, instead of looking after state affairs, the military regime engaged in fierce power struggles. Chung Jung-bu was assassinated by Gyeong Dae-seung. When Gyeong Dae-seung died of illness, Yi Euimin, originally of slave status, seized power. Choi Chung-heon then killed Yi Eui-min, established a strong system of monopoly, and the military regime of the Choi family continued for the following 60 years, during four generations.

Magnifying Glass

The Beard of a General Burnt as a Prank

On the eve of the New Year in 1144, there was a ceremony called “Narye”which was dedicated to driving away the evil spirits. Joyous entertainment was held with the king in attendance. Because of a sudden wind, the candlelights were blown out and the place went dark. At this point, Kim Don-jung burned the beard of Chung Jung-bu, a general, with a candlelight. Outraged, Chung Jung-bu struck Kim Don-jung in the face. but it was Chung who had to go into hiding to avoid harm. Kim Don-jung was the son of Kim Bu-shik, who was the highest ranking official of the time. This incident shows how the civil officials looked down on military officials.

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Stone statue at the tomb of King Gongmin
Stone statue at the tomb of King Gongmin
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고려
한국사 918 고려 건국 935 신라 멸망 936 후삼국 통일 1019 귀주 대첩 1126 이자겸의 난 1135 묘청의 서경 천도 운동 1170 무신 정변 1231 몽골의 침입 1236 고려 대장경 제작(~1251) 1388 위화도 회군 세계사 960 송의 건국 1192 일본, 가마쿠라 막부 성립 1206 징기즈칸의 몽골 통일 1338 영국과 프랑스의 백년 전쟁(~1453) 1368 원의 멸망과 명의 건국
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단원 요약
고려는 후삼국을 통일하고 발해 유민을 받아들여 한민족 전체를 아우른 통일 국가로 발전하였다. 고려는 불교를 국가의 종교로 숭상하고 유교를 통치의 원리로 삼아 중앙 집권적인 통치 체제를 확립하였다. 고려는 거란, 여진, 몽골 등의 침입을 받아 어려움을 겪었지만 이를 슬기롭게 극복하면서, 고려 대장경, 고려청자와 같은 세계적인 문화 유산을 남겼다. 나아가 개방적인 대외 정책을 통해 고려(코리아)의 이름이 세계에 널리 알려지게 되었다.
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Abstract
Goryeo unified the Later Three Kingdoms, accepted the displaced people of Balhae and united all the people of Korea. Goryeo officially recognized Buddhism as the state religion, while establishing Confucianis as the principle for ruling. Goryeo struggled under invasions from the Khitan, the Jurchen and the Mongols, and wisely overcame these hardships. It left behind such great cultural heritages as the Tripitaka Koreana and Goryeo celadon. Furthermore, through its open foreign policies, it succeeded in making the name Goryeo (Corea) widely known throughout the world.
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