Korean Neo-Confucian Academies

Donam-seowon, an illustration of howseowon expanded from political and social arenas into a major research center for Neo-Confucianism by dedicated to yehak, or the study of propriety.

Eungdodang lecture hall

Located in Nonsan City of Chungcheongnam-do Province, Donam-seowon was established in 1634.

Yangseongdang lecture hall

Established by the localsarim and students of the venerated scholar Kim Jang-saeng, Donam-seowon has been a cradle of yehak, or the study of propriety of Korean Neo-Confucianism with highlights on daily practice. This suggests that research of Neo-Confucianism in Korea had not been uniformly developed but grown into various branches of study. There are many signboard indicating observance rites and records related to yehak such as woodblocks and classics.

Sungnyesa shrine

Donam-seowon enshrines the spiritual tablet of Kim Jang-saeng (1548-1631). Donam-seowon was the pioneer of yehak discussion led by scholar Kim who also had made critical impacts on the central government in the 17th century. Yehak was a study as a part of efforts to restore the orders after the ruins of the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592. Such an exclusive in-depth research on the academy is a solid testimony to how Neo-Confucianism in Korea had developed based on each academy’s specialty of research and interests, rather than uniformed study. Kim Jip (15741656) in 1659, Song Si-yeol (1607-1689) in 1695 and Song Jun-gil (1606-1672) in 1888 were additionally enshrined in the later period. As the students of the main venerated figure Kim Jang-saeng, they wrote books related to principles of propriety like their teacher and created a unique academic lineage based on propriety.

Eungdodang lecture hall

The culture of discussion on yehak was vitalized in western region of Korea. Since the establishment of Donam-seowon, discussions on yehak among the intellectuals had started to get intensified, and it went as far as to be dealt as the main issue of national policy. Against this backdrop, Kim Jang-saeng is honored in Donam-seowon, and the tradition of veneration has still continued by the descendent families andseowonmembers.