August 12, 2020

To Become King

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The education for the crown prince in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea was very strict. The prince had to be thoroughly educated because he was the pillar to become king in the future and the figure to hold the destiny of the dynasty.

The education started with the antenatal training. When the queen had a child, she was prudent in her conduct. She read aloud the teachings of the sages engraved on the jade tablet, listened to the performances of the court musicians, and ate daintily as well. When the first prince was born, an institute called Boyangcheong looked after the prince and raised him. When he became four to five years old, another institute called Ganghakcheong was in charge of his primary education.

After the prince was proclaimed as the crown prince, he received education in earnest. He was taught three times a day by more than twenty highly-respected teachers with such books as Cheonjamun [Thousand Character Text], Hyogyeong [Book of Filial Duty], Sohak [Elementary Learning], and history books. Also, there were irregular education and occasional tests. The prince had no time to rest, learning excellent skills in various fields such as music, art, horse riding, and archery.

The purpose of all this education was to make the prince gracious king with good character and skills rather than the acquisition of knowledge itself. It is not too much to say that a good and wise king is not born but made in a harsh process.

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