A new bureaucratic class of the literati (sadaebu) emerged at the end of the Goryeo period. In particular, these sadaebu were actively appointed in the implementation of the reformative politics during the reign of King Gongmin. The literati who studied Confucianism, advanced into the central government through the civil service examination and nurtured their factions. They accepted Seongnihak (Neo-Confucianism) as the new ideology, criticized Buddhism and called for social reforms. Buddhism, under which Goryeo was founded, which drove away the foreign forces and dominated the spiritual world of the populace, had degraded into a corrupt religion harassing the people and ruining the state. Based on the doctrine of Neo-Confucianism, the Sadaebu stood at the forefront in the politics and the efforts to restructure the society which had been so ill-used by the powerful families. Meanwhile, military commanders Choi Yeong and Yi Seong-gye who made a name for themselves in repelling the Red Turbans and the Japanese marauders, joined forces to defeat the existing power in politics. But the two men eventually came to confrontation regarding the future course of Goryeo. When Ming China demanded that Goryeo return the territories that had been occupied by Yuan, Goryeo set out to conquer Liaotung, which had been an ancient territory of Goguryeo. On their way to the expedition, however, Yi Seong-gye turned his army back from Wihwa Island in the mouth of the Yalu and launched a coup d’etat (1388). He ousted the king and Choi Yeong from power.
The new literati who dreamt of a new society, believing that the fate of Goryeo had come to an end, joined forces with Yi Seong-gye to implement the reforms in full swing. Yi Seong-gye was placed on the throne and thus came the establishment of a new dynasty of Joseon (1392).
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[key words] Goryeo celadon, movable metal type, Jikji-simche-yojeol, Tripitaka Koreana, Najeon - chilgi