Korean Neo-Confucian Academies

The sarim served as both educators and students. Some were enshrined at seowon for veneration by later generations. Sarim of seowon are composed of rectors, senior administrators, and students.

Recreating Joseon’s state examination at Dosan-seowon

Rectors were in charge of all matters related to the seowon and served as working-level supervisors and managers. Normally, a term as rector lasted for one or two years, but depending on the regulations at each seowon, rectors could be allowed to serve consecutive terms.

Meeting of Seowon steering committee

Senior adminstrators include financial administrator, chief councilor, or general administrator, depending on their roles. Their duties were defined as assisting rectors in safeguarding the academy and being responsible for financial affairs, although the details might vary from seowon to seowon. Not only had they managed the academy, they prepared classes and taught students.

Entering the shrine

Students were accepted only through recommendations. According to regulations at Dodong-seowon, admissions were allowed only to students of twenty years of age or older, and applicants were screened by admission committees generally consisting of one to five members. Each member could recommend a single candidate to a rector. The selected students were required to pass an admission exam in order to finalize their spot at the academy. According to the records of student registers, approximately 10 students were admitted to each seowon every year between the mid-16th and mid-17th century. Since each academy operated independently, the number of acceptance varied.