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KI-RAK, Ha. "A History A History of Korean Anarchist Movement"
Article published on 6 January 2008
last modification on 21 February 2016

by r-c.
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This study first appeared as :

Ki-rak Ha, A history of Korean anarchist movement, Anarchist Publishing Committee, 1986. 182 p.

This history, written from a nationalist perspective, goes to the year 1961.

1. Prologue

A. People’s Struggle for Self-Liberation- Until the Dawn of the Modern Age

In the course of developing from the primitive family society to the tribal society and further to the union of tribal societies, there emerged the three ancient kingdoms; the Kokuryo dynasty (37-668), the Baekje dynasty (346-660) and the Silla dynasty (356-935).
Before the modern age, land was the major means of production. Once a group of conquerors with a king at their summit had formed a ruling class, they would put the land under their control and establish a system that was exploitative of the farmers. This was the so-called state.
Seen from this point of view, the successive kingdoms, such as the United Silla dynasty (676-935), the Koryo dynasty (935-1392) and the Lee dynasty (1392-1910) were not heterogeneous in essence. Throughout the rule of the dynasties, there had been intermittent outbursts of revolt from the farmers whenever the exploitation became unbearable. This not only vitally wounded the dynasties, but also the ability of the farmers of support themselves.
A vicious circle occurred whenever a dynasty was replaced with another.
Let us take for example the foundation of the Lee dynasty. Upon the establishment of the dynasty, the new regime confiscated all the large private farms owned by Koryo dynasty dignitaries and re-divided them among the new civil and military bureaucratic classes.
Farmlands in the country were re-divided among royal families, bureaucrats, distinguished subjects, provincial powerful families and offices and public organisations in central and provincial areas. The farmers cultivating the lands were forced to pay a land tax of more than half their products to the owners and authorities. Therefore, although the owners of the lands and the tax collectors had changed, the situation for the farmers remained the same. In addition, the centralistic bureaucratic system of the Lee dynasty had divided the people into castes such as the Yang-ban (aristocrats of civil and military), the middle class, ordinary class and lower class, in order to limit their social position and wealth from birth. This caste system was supported by the Neo-Confucian ideology.

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