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Essay by SackdavongUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, May 2012

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History of Korea: Midterm Paper, topic 3

With the end of the Shilla dynasty, the Koryo came to power. The end of the Shilla dynasty also meant the end of its political system, which had played a role in bringing an end to the dynasty as well. Shilla's ruling class was decided from hereditary bloodlines, that is, anyone who was born into the ruling upper class would be guaranteed power and prestige later on in life. Koryo was very hierarchical, and people knew where their place was in the society, however, the ruling class did not abide by this. Any tensions would usually be among the ruling class themselves. With the new Koryo dynasty, this form of rule was weakened, and was replaced, to an extent, instead by civil officers recruited by way of the civil service exam adopted from China. This was meant to give an equal opportunity to any and everyone that wanted to serve in the government.

As much as this solved one problem, it raised many more. This was illustrated by a period during the Koryo dynasty where the military ruled for a century, which was the result of a powerful civil bureaucracy that became despotic. The conflicts between the ruling elites that had plagued the previous Shilla dynasty continued into the Koryo dynasty. These conflicts between the ruling elite would weaken its grip on power and contribute to an environment that was already rife for a military take over. But in the immediate aftermath of the takeover, it was once again plagued by the chronic internal struggles that led to the downfall of the civil bureaucracy that had just been overthrown. However, all these ended once a strongman came to power, and only then did the military begin to assert its power and...