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Establishing a Pluralist Society in Medieval Korea, 918-1170

History, Ideology, and Identity in the Koryŏ Dynasty


Remco Breuker

This book offers no less than a radically different view of the Koryŏ state. Until now scholarship failed to recognize the complicated historical descent, byzantine international relations and multiple incommensurable worldviews of the early Korean Koryŏ state (918-1170). Instead, it subjected these to reductionist categories favouring reified particulars over broader views. Asking how Koryŏ meaningfully dealt with its environment, Remco Breuker rejects the reduction of Koryŏ intellectual abundance to analytical categories, and emphasizes the functional importance of Koryŏ’s pluralism in allowing the notion that realities were scattered, inconsistent and plural.
Here is a convincing argument that Koryŏ’s pluralism decisively contributed to the formation of a region-transcending communal identity that enabled Koryŏ to engage in a civilizational competition with neighbouring Chinese and Manchurian states, while maintaining a dynamic but stable society domestically.