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HOME > Hamel Pavilion > Hamel's view of Joseon > Politics and military of Joseon



A political system

Joseon has a king. His authority is absolute, even though he pays homage to the Ching China. The king has anadvisory body, called Uijeongbu, which exercised its absolute power freely.

Joseon has no lords possessing their town, village, or island, suggesting that Joseon is strongly centralized.

High offices(Yangban) earned their income from land property and male and female slaves. Some Yangban(noblemen) possesses about 200-300 slaves. Some are given an island or land from the king, but it falls to the king after they die.

Regarding to administrative organization, Joseon has central and local government organizations. The central government organization consists of a number of high and low officials. Many different appeals are presented to the king.

While local governors hold office for one year, other government employees do for three years.

But, there are few people who finish up their term of office because most of them leave their offices before their terms due to corruption.


The military

To defend the country against the enemy, Joseon has an infantry and the cavalry in the capital. These armies get paid by defending the king's palace, and keeping guard on the king when he goes on a trip. Common people have to go to the capital every seven years to guard the king's palace.


It refers to the military service system of Joseon on a commoner conscription basis.

Regarding the weapons and military system of Joseon, he wrote as follows.

°‹The weapons include bows, arrows, and a kind of flail. A flail-like weapon with a short metal in its tip is similar to a flail which is used to thresh wheat in Netherlands.

°‹Soldiers wear helmets and armor made with an iron plate or animal skin and are armed with firelocks, short swords, and short spears. Military officers are armed with bows and arrows.

°‹All soldiers buys gunpowder and 50 bullets at their own expense and must possess them.

°‹Each town charges temples with the defense and management of mountain fortresses. In the case of emergency, Buddhist monks become soldiers. Monks are also registered on the list of soldiers.

°‹The king can enlist militiamen and monk soldiers in the army to strengthen military force which can go to war.


Joseon appearing in the world map - Island

°‹Common soldiers of sixty years are exempted from military service and their descendants take their place.

°‹All of the nobility(Yangban) are exempted from military service like slaves.


Their only duty is to be loyal to their king. Those exempted from military service exceeds a half because children born between common men and female slaves and between male slaves and common women all became slaves.


If both parents were slaves, their children belonged to the mother's master.







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