Yŏngjo's Court: Magnificent Harmony
And they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy.
-- Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Yŏngjo could not spend all his time in the streets. To rule, he had to constantly deal with the bureaucracy. After all, the makeup of the bureaucracy and the king's relationship with it largely determined the character of the government. The bureaucratic community that Yŏngjo inherited was bitterly torn by factional animosities. In fact, for a good part of his reign, factional issues dominated his court to such a degree that one wonders whether other matters could receive sufficient attention. Yŏngjo obviously felt that, in order to bring stability to his court, it was imperative that factional politics be brought under control. Yŏngjo turned, as he had done in other aspects of his rule, to impeccable rhetoric--t'angp'yŏng (magnificent harmony), as he called it--with which he proposed to deal with the problem. Alluding to the Kingly Way
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Publication information: Book title: A Heritage of Kings: One Man's Monarchy in the Confucian World . Contributors: Jahyun Kim Haboush - Author. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 117.
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