Pan’gye Surok (磻溪隨錄) is Yu Hyŏng-wŏn’s (柳馨遠1622-1673) representative book on a reform for a Korean system of government. “Pan’gye” is a name taken from a place where he lived, and “Surok” means a free write done by his stream of consciousness that it shows author’s modesty to his work. Yu wrote his masterpiece, Pan’gye Surok, based on his 20 years of observation and study. He traveled many country sides in his early years and saw the reality of the peasant life. The book is a summation of everything he witnessed in his early life as well as things he experienced while living with the peasant in his later life. This compiled book concerns for the welfare and condition of the people of the Chosŏn Dynasty.

The book is his lifetime achievement that exemplifies his philosophy. It consists of total of 26 volumes. Its contents encompass the ideas such as ① Land reform (Chŏnje; 田制), ② Education, schools, and community compact system (Kyosŏn chi che; 敎選之制), ③ Personnel and administration policy (Imgwan chi che; 任官之制), ④ The King, his court, and reforming the central bureaucracy (Chikkwan chi che; 職官之制),⑤ Official salaries and expenses (Nokche; 祿制), ⑥ Military reform (Pyŏngje; 兵制), ⑦ Additional opinions on various topics (Sokp'yŏn; 續篇).

In Pan’gye Surok, Yu extensively elaborates his ideas on reform for governmental organization. The focus and suggestions for reform, however, also expands on to social, military, and financial reforms. Most of all, the main emphasis of the book is on the idea of land reform. The author gives well organized critiques and analysis for remodeling and redistributing of wealth through land reform. He also included a thorough examination of the many Chinese classical and historical texts as well as Korean primary sources and scholarship.

In mid to late 17th century Chosŏn Dynasty, Confucianism was a main stream of academia. However, new academia Sirhak (實學) rose as a critique to prevalent ideas of Confucian, and Yu Hyŏng-wŏn and his works were at the center of the birth of Sirhak. Yu laid the foundation for Sirhak, and Pan’gye Surok is considered as a pioneering work that sets the stepping stone for Sirhak to flourish in later Chosŏn dynasty. Many scholars and political elites such as Sŏngho Yi Ik (李瀷) and Tasan Chŏng Yag-yong (丁若鏞)of later 17th century were heavily influenced by Yu Hyŏng-wŏn’s work.



James B. Palais (1934–2006) was professor of Korean History at the University of Washington for 37 years (1968–2005) and was a key figure in establishing Korean Studies in the United States. He was awarded the John Whitney Hall book prize for the best book on Japan and Korea in 1998 for his greatest work, the 1230-page Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions: Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty.

During his tenure at UW, Prof. Palais tirelessly worked on English translation of Pangye Surok, the selected works of Yu Hyongwon. Yu Hyongwon was a 17 spent his entire life researching. This nearly 2,000 page original manuscripts of English translation was never published during Professor Palais’ lifetime and was recently discovered during a review of the Palais’ faculty paper in the UW Libraries Special Collection.

Thanks to the Friends of the UW Libraries Award, the digitization of the original manuscripts was possible providing access to the public for research and study on Prof. Palais’ life time endeavor and masterpiece.

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