chapter  3
Human Rights in South Korea
Pages 31

Although they have a great deal in common, at least to the eyes of western observers, Korean political culture is substantially different to that of Japan. Oppositionism is stronger, liberal influences are weaker and Confucianism has been even more pervasive. Neo-Confucian ideas were not only the dominant ideology during the Choson dynasty (1392-1910) but they were also much more widely disseminated throughout the population. Whereas the Tokugawa state was a decentralised structure which interfered relatively little with the affairs of rural communities, the Choson dynasty court exercised direct control over the whole country for most of the period 1392-1910. There was nevertheless no unanimity among Korean Confucians and, within the confines of the neo-Confucian tradition, there were significant disputes over the correct interpretation of the classic texts and how to judge the behaviour of contemporary statesmen.