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The Imbalance in successful passers’ numbers in the Capital and Local regions, displayed in the outcome of the Civil Examination system(Mun-gwa, 文科), during the latter half of the Joseon dynasty period

서울대학교 규장각 한국학연구원
Publication Date
  • 科擧
  • 文科
  • 式年試
  • 親臨試
  • 慶科
  • 成均館
  • The National Civil Examination System(文科)
  • Shik’Nyeon-Shi Exam(式年試)
  • Chin’Rim-Shi Exam(親臨試)
  • Design
  • Literature
  • Political Science


Since the 17th century, a certain imbalance, between the number of successful passers for the National uvil examination system(Mun-gwa,文科) who were living in the Capital city, and the number of such people who were living in the local regions, started to form. It became a serious issue to be discussed with, in this period. Examined in this article is why such imbalance happened in the first place, and how it progressed. In the early half of the Joseon period, passers of the civil examination were mostly from the Capital city, or from the Gyeongsang-do and Jeolla-do regions. But such tendency did not show up in different forms, according to the type of test they applied to. Then, in the 17th century, the biennial “Shik’nyeon-shi” exam, which usually tested the applicants’ knowledge and understanding of the Classic texts(講經),became a test that mostly selected Confucian students living and studying in local regions, while the “Gyeong-gwa/慶科” exam(exams held to celebrate happy occasions), which tested the applicants skill in literary writing(^l),became a test that mostly selected Confucian students from the Capital. This ‘imbalance,’ or to be said as a separation in the selection process, in terms of the capital applicants and local ones, became a problem. The Shik’nyeon-shi exam was originally an exam that was designed to select high-ranking governmental officials, yet since the 17th century it lost such status and became a test only to select Confucian students from local regions. However, as the Court changed the examination subject of “Chin’rim-shi/親臨式 exam to make students from local regions apply to the exam more easily, the number of successful passers from them continuously increased. As a result, the imbalance was moderated. This chagne was brought about by the application strategy adopted by the student from local regions who wanted to pass the exam.

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