The Medieval and Early Modern History section displays historical and cultural items
from the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1897) periods, tracing the events,
conflicts, and achievements that marked the two most significant periods of Korea’s
Search for a New Social Order
The experience of the Japanese Invasions of 1592 and the Manchu Invasion of 1636 brought about fundamental changes in Joseon society, at a political, socio-economic, and cultural level. In this critical transition period, the king and the political leadership of Joseon attempted to enact reform through initiatives like the Daedongbeop (Law of Uniform Land Tax), as well as an overhaul of the national census system and the creation of a new currency, Sangpyeongtongbo. This period, meanwhile, saw a remarkable advancement in the area of national and family ritual studies. As a society, Joseon became keenly interested, and sometimes even fanatical, about the rules of propriety, such that heated debates erupted on seemingly trivial issues, like which clothes should be worn to mourn the king’s death. But the period was also marked by considerable commercial growth, triggering socio-economic improvements throughout Joseon. Such changes are evidenced by the books, documents, paintings, and daily items from this period.