VOL. XLVI 1971
LIFE IN URBAN KOREA
By Lee Hyo-jae
in collaboration with
Choi Syn-duk Lee Kyong-jae
Han Sang-bock Oh Kap-hwan
Kim Kyong-dong Kathryn Norton
Korea Branch Royal Asiatic Society CPO Box 255,Seoul, Korea
Taewon Publishing Company IPO Box 3104, Seoul Korea
This Volume of the Transactions, Korea Branch,
Royal Asiatic Society is respectfully dedicated to the late
MR. WILBUR D. BACON 1925-1971
Mr. Wilbur D. Bacon, during his years of service in Korea from the late 1940,s until the early 1960’s, was an active and dedicated leader in the activities of the Royal Asiatic Society. Mr. Bacon was the contributor of two outstanding articles in the Transactions, including “Tombs of the Yi Dynasty Kings and Queens,” Vol XXXIII, 1957, pages 1-40; and “Fortresses of Kyonggi-do.” Vol. XXXVII,1961,pages 1-64. He was working on another RAS Transactions article, a translation into English of a Korean history of the Japanese invasion of Korea of 1592- 98,at the time of his untimely death,following a heart operation,on March 28,1971. Mr. Bacon was also one of the founders of the Choi Byong-woo Memorial Fund, honoring that former editor of the Korea Times who was killed in Quemoy during fighting there in the late 1950’s. It is this fund which the Society has been using as a revolving capital fund,to provide funds for its expanding program of publications on Korean scholarly projects. The Council of the Royal Asiatic Society, by action at its May 1971 meeting, voted to dedicate this volume of the Transactions to the memory of Mr. Wilbur D. Bacon, who contributed greatly to the ongoing program of the Royal Asiatic Society.
LIFE IN URBAN KOREA
Foreword: Sociology in Korea 7
Historical Background of Seoul City 15
Seoul City Administration and Organization 21
A Perspective of Three Neighborhoods 25
Level of Living 43
Daily Life 51
Family and Kinship Relationships 63
Religion and Social Values 73
A. Research Methods 83
B. Historical Perspective of Religion in Korea 85
Diagram 1-Hanyang Dong 28
Diagram 2-Layout of Traditional Korean House 31
Diagram 3-Layout of Multi-Story Western-Style House 33
Diagram 4a-Layout of Mixed-Style House 36
Diagram 4b-Layout of Mixed-Style House 37
Diagram 5-Layout of Apartment House 40
Notes on the contributors 91
RAS Annual Report for 1970 93
List of RAS Members 95
Sociology in Korea
by Lee Man-gap
I. Trends in Sociology in Korea
The development of sociology in Korea went through the following four stages: 1) sociology before 1945 ; 2) the early establishment stage for a decade after 1954; 3) the period of “new sociology” up to the early 1960,s; and 4) the period of emerging self-awareness in the latter half of the 1960’s.
Before the end of World War II,there was no sociology department at any higher educational institution ; only a few courses on sociology were offered at the Japanese-dominated Keijo Imperial University. A handful of Korean and Japanese sociologists engaged in research activities of a sociological nature.
Shortly after the war, a sociology department was established for the first time at Seoul National University and, later, at Kyungbuk National University. A number of introductory sociology texts in Korean were published; lectures were regularly offered, but they were largely confined to the introduction of Western sociological theories developed back in the 1930’s or even before; e. g•,Comte, Spencer, Simmel, Toennies, Weber, and so on.
The third stage began in 1956 with the introduction of new theories and methodology then rapidly developing in the United States. Many sociologists began to undertake empirical field research, utilizing new research techniques. Research topics covered a wide area, including attitude toward occupations, urban and rural families, the social structure of the rural villages, fertility in rural areas, and so on. Another distinctive trend relating to research activities was the development of a strong [page8] interest in sociological investigation by government agencies and private organizations,such as newspaper companies. This stage also witnessed the establishment of the Korean Sociological Association.
The fourth stage may be characterized by the emergence of self-awakening in Korean sociology and extended activities of sociologists in various fields. This stage reveals a number of distinctive characteristics. First, the Korean sociologists began to publish their first professional journals in 1964. In addition,they became increasingly critical of the sociological theories developed in the West, as to their relevance and applicability to the Korean social scene, and expressed a strong interest in developing sociological theories which would properly account for the characteristics of Korean society. For example, in 1965, the Korean Sociological Association, formerly the Korean Sociological Society,had a special session with a panel discussion on “Problems and Methodology in the Analysis of the Korean Social Structures”, as a follow-up of a previous symposium on “Problems in Sociological Studies of Korean Society”, which was set up as a special session of the annual conference of the Association in 1963. Then, in 1966 and 1967,the Association held symposiums on the problems of rural social research methods in Korea and on the ethical position of academicians, respectively.
Secondly,the Korean sociologists were becoming increasingly con-cerned with social development, modernization, and other changes in the Korean society,and their general attention gradually shifted from rural to urban and industrial problems, even though the rural society remained a major research topic.
Thirdly,the Korean sociologists have become more active in research in connection with research institutes such as the Council of East Asian Studies, the Institute, of East Asian Studies of Seoul National University, the Asiatic Research Center of Korea University, and the Korean Culture Research Institute of Ewha University, all of which were already established in the preceding period. Two other research institutes were established around 1966 : the Population and Development Studies Center at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Seoul National University, and the Social Research Institute of Korea University. [page 9]
Lastly, the Korean sociologists promoted inter-disciplinary research ; extended the academic front to public discussion on current social problems in various seminars ; and became more diverse and productive in research subjects than ever before.
II. Factors Bearing on the Development of Sociology in Korea
Sociology has now gained wide popularity in Korea and is regarded as one of the most important social science disciplines. In a survey conducted eight years ago with regard to the situation and problems of the social sciences in Korea, sociology was ranked as the second most important social science field by the social scientists who were interviewed. Opinions of sociologists are increasingly sought by the policy makers. That sociology is also popular among college applicants is reflected in the relatively low percentage rate of admissions to applications in the sociology departments at various universities. This phenomenon is largely due to the following five factors:
The first factor to be noted is the leadership of key figures. They should be credited for encouraging young sociologists to introduce new sociology from abroad and to become active in academic affairs.
The second factor may be the introduction of newly developed sociological theories and research methodology with which the young sociologists could give more meaningful explanations to current social problems.
The third factor is the increasing cultural influence by the United States. After the Korean War, many social scientists came to have opportunities to study in the United States, and thereby the social scientists in general became familiar with newer sociological concepts and began to use them. Furthermore, the newspapers and magazines introduced new ideas in which sociological concepts were occasionally referred to.
The fourth factor is the practical usefulness of sociological knowledge for problem solving in social matters and development problems. In recent years, many Korean and foreign experts or advisors have frequently emphasized the necessity of taking into consideration socio- [page10] cultural factors in economic or social planning. For example, many governmental and non-governmental programs, such as community development, family planning, and economic development, have usually required the participation of sociologists.
Finally, the deep concern of some sociologists with the field of mass communications, and their contribution to the development of this field, should also be noted. The department of sociology at Seoul National University began to offer courses on mass communications in the mid- 1960,s, as the department recognized the important role of mass communications in modern society. As a result, a good many graduates of the department came to develop a strong interest in the field of mass communications, mass society, and mass culture, and have since become active in such studies. It seems that many university students regard sociology as a proper discipline to train workers for mass communications.
III. Concluding Remarks
Sociology in Korea has made steady progress since 1956 with the introduction of newly-developed sociological theories and methodology, mainly from the United States. The work of the sociologists after the introduction of “new sociology, ,has been widely appreciated in academic circles among social scientists; the importance of sociology is now firmly recognized by many intellectuals.
It is, however, fair to say that the Korean sociologists have so far been largely concerned with introducing Western sociological theories and research techniques and applying them in their empirical studies, and have had little time for intellectual maturation of their own.
Recently a number of sociologists came to be fairly critical of the past tendencies, seeking new theoretical orientations relevant to the study of the Korean society. Substantially, they are also turning to the problems with which the Korean society is confronted and which call for academic comprehension as well as practical solutions, namely, modernization and social change.
The study presented in this volume is an example of this vital trend.
In line with world-wide trends, Korea today is undergoing rapid urban growth. Seoul, the capital city, has been the largest and fastest growing city in the country. Between 1945 and 1970 the population of Seoul increased by more than 800 percent ; as of December 31,1970, Seoul had over five million persons, and an estimated daily increase of over five hundred persons, of which two-thirds entered by migration.
Such rapid urban growth has presented enormous problems. In recent years municipal and central government officials have become aware of the urgent need for urban planning as a means of combating these problems. Seoul City has launched ambitious programs of downtown renewal, expansion of roads and public facilities, and development of new residential areas. These programs have brought about rapid changes in the face of the city.
Unfortunately, however, urban development plans are frequently made without sufficient knowledge of the social patterns and needs of city dwellers. Some projects fail to meet the current demand ; others do not take into account the values and life styles demanded by urbanization.
In order to do an adequate job, urban planners must be aware of what it means to be a Korean living in a Korean city. They must know how people earn their living,how they run their homes, what they do in their leisure time, what their desires and frustrations are, and how they relate to their neignbors and relatives. Without such information, urban planning can be only haphazard and speculative.
The present study was designed to help meet the needs of the urban planner. While planners must consider all segments of the population, [page 12] no single study could nope to reveal the social patterns ot all urban dwellers. As a modern industrialized city, Seoul is composed of a heterogenous population which encompasses the very wealthy and the very poor,scholars and illiterates, entrepreneurs and beggars. Though all elements must be considered,planners are most concerned with the dominant group. In Seoul the dominant group is a middle class composed of small shopkeepers and salaried workers who comprise about two-thirds of the Seoul population. Wage employees—blue collar workers— comprise a little less than one-third of the population, and wealthy entrepreneurs account for only about 2 % of the population.
Not only are the salaried workers and the small shopkeepers the dominant urban group now,but there is every indication that the size of this middle class will continue to increase relative to the other groups. As this class grows,it is likely that the proportion of skilled laborers in it will increase. At the present time, only a few skilled laborers live as middle-class urbanites. With further industrialization and more unskilled rural-urban migrants,the demand for skilled labor will increase and thus allow such workers to raise their living standards.
Since the middle class is currently the most numerous in Seoul, and will remain so in the future, urban planners are most concerned with meeting the requirements of this group. Consequently, the present study focuses particular attention on the values and patterns of living of Seoul middle- class residents.
The present study considers three neighborhoods that exemplify the various modes of middle-class living: Hanyang Dong,a long-established neighborhood in the center of Seoul ; Kyohwe Dong, a relatively new suburban district ; and Shinju Dong,an apartment house community. The names used are fictitious, but otherwise the neighborhoods exist as depicted. The selection of these particular neighborhoods was arbitrary. They were chosen in consultation with the Housing, Urban, and Regional Planning Institute of the Ministry of Construction from the viewpoint that they are generally considered to be middle-class, and represent a variety of middle-class living patterns.
The actual research was carried out by a team of sociologists between October and December, 1967. Professor Lee Hyo-jae of Ewha Womans [page 13] University directed the project, Five Korean sociologists acted as a team of researchers, assisted by thirty sociology students.
Each researcher was responsible for a specific topic, and drafted those parts of the report concerned with his or her specialty. Mrs. Choi Syn-duk, of Ewha Womans University, reviewed family life; Mr. Han Sang-bock, of Seoul National University, the economic and social interrelationships; Mr. Kim Kyong-dong, of Seoul National University, the individuals’ philosophy and religion; Mr. Oh Kap-hwan, of Seoul National University, social aspirations and mobility; and Mrs. Lee Kyong-jae, of Seoul National University, the general physical and administrative characteristics of the three neighborhoods. Mrs. Kathryn Norton, a social anthropologist with US-AID, acted as advisor-consultant.
LIFE IN URBAN KOREA
Historical Background of Seoul City
While there has been a history of cities in Korea for many centuries, they were basically small national or regional centers of administration. In 1394 the capital of Korea was moved from Kaesong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang) by Yi Taejo, the first king of the Yi Dynasty. Before becoming the capital, Hanyang was little more than a desolate village located in a river basin surrounded by mountains. Its one noteworthy attraction was a palace that had been one of the royal residences during the Koryo Dynasty.
With the arrival of Yi Taejo’s government, a walled city called Han- song was constructed, with four Great Gates and four smaller gates erected at strategic sites. In the middle of the walled city flowed a canal designed to serve as a drainage system. Streets 50 chuk wide (15 meters), such as Kwanghwa-mun Street and Chong-no, were laid out. On both sides of Kwanghwa-mun Street, from Kwanghwa-mun to Hweng To Hyun (now Sejong-no), six central government departments were established, delineating an area of government offices, while business districts (Yuknijon) were relegated to the streets running from Sejong-no to East Gate and from Kwanggyo to South Gate. Royal residences such as Kyongbok Palace were constructed on the north of the river basin, and the shrine of royal ancestors (Chongmyo) and altar (Sajik) were built within the walls.
The pealing of the great bell at the crossroads of Chong-no announced the opening and closing of the city gates. The silence of the sleeping city would be broken as the bell tolled thirty-three times, summoning the [page 16] hordes of merchants who poured into the city to turn previously quiet areas into bustling marketplaces. At 8 :00 in the evening, the bell tolled twenty-eight times to warn the people of curfew and the closing of the gates.
There was a rough division of five residential areas in the city: noblemen, landed aristocrats and bureaucrats lived in the north ; aristocrats with careers on the wane, who had been ousted as a result of power struggles, lived in the south at the northern foothill of Namsan; rank and file officials resided in the west (Udae) ; soldiers in the southeast (Aredae) ; and petty officials who ranked below the aristocrats but above the peasants lived in the central portion of the city. Hence, social stratification was further reflected to some degree in the subdivisions of the residential areas.
For centuries social stratification in Korean society retained the same basic form. Beneath the king was a large bureaucracy made up of Confucian scholars who were appointed to their positions through nationwide civil service examinations held every three years. This bureaucratic elite was recruited largely from the yangban (upper) class; Confucian scholars, government officials, and the descendants of distinguished loyal subjects to the Throne. Once in office, the intellectual had great prestige and power to amass a fortune.
Ranked immediately beneath the yangban were the chongin; government clerks and functionaries. Many in this group were the offspring of yangban fathers and concubines. Though their step-brothers by their fathers’ first wives were yangban, they were not accorded this high rank.
Ranked below the chongin were the commones—the peasantry—who formed the foundation of Korean society. The peasantry was composed of several occupational groups, such as artisans and merchants, but the majority were small landholders or tenants and farm laborers. Beneath the commoners were the outcasts of society ; slaves, entertainers, shamans, and butchers. Social status in Korean society was hereditary, but “vertical mobility”‘ or aspiration was not entirely absent. The only way to maintain one’s yangban status was to pass the civil examination and be appointed to a government position. These government positions were eagerly sought, and young yangban vied for success in the government [page 17] hierarchy. Commoners and outcasts, however, were excluded from the examinations.
The Korean class system began to break down around the beginning of the twentieth century as the Yi Dynasty came to an end and Japanese colonization began. One of the most influential Japanese colonial policies was the introduction of the capitalistic system of private ownership of land into Korean society. Up to that time, all land had been nominally owned by the Throne. The yangban class had held the privilege of tax collection for farmers’ use of the land Once private ownership was established, many of the yangban class became landowners or owner- cultivators (independent farmers), and most of the commoners became tenants. At the same time that private ownership of land altered the social patterns of the rural areas, the pattern of urbanization was changing as well.
In 1862 Hansong (Seoul) and Pyongyang were the only two cities with a population of more than 20,000 persons. At that time they comprised only 3.6% of the total national population, and most of the urban dwellers relied upon direct ties to rural areas to supply them with food- stuffs and household goods. There was relatively little production or mercantile activity in the urban areas.
With the impact of industrialization, Hansong, which had previously indicated no signs of growth other than rebuilding of old walls and palaces,began to develop. In 1882,foreigners were permitted to dwell within the city walls; western Europeans settled around Chong Dong, while many Japanese chose Chin-gogae. This area, presently Myong Dong, emerged as a flourishing thoroughfare, forming the inner core of the Japanese-dominated central business district. In 1899 the first streetcars began running between Chong-no and Chungnyang-ni, and in 1900 another track from Chong-no to Wonhyo-ro past South Gate was built. The custom of opening and closing the city gates in accordance with the curfew bell of Chong-no disappeared with the establishment of outgoing. streetcars. At about the same time, lanterns and candles were replaced with electric lights, and a modern water supply system was partially adopted. Markets grew and industries developed.
Hansong was renamed Kyongsong after the Japanese annexation. [page18] At the time of annexation in 1910,there were five cities with a population of more than 20,000, but by 1940 there were twenty-one. As a colonial governor, Japan expanded already existing cities to make them centers of industry. These centers attracted rural migrants. The urban population as a whole increased 110% between 1920 and 1930,and another 105% in the following decade. The municipal boundary of Kyongsong itself was twice extended during the years of Japanese occupation. With the liberation from Japan in 1945,the capital was renamed Seoul.
After the liberation, urban areas continued to increase in population. However, the new settlers were no longer mainly from rural areas, but rather comprised refugees from the communist north and repatriates from Manchuria, Japan, and other foreign lands. Military records show that from October 1945 to September 1949,a total of over one million Koreans returned from residence outside the country. In addition, it is estimated that by the end of 1947, 1,116,000 refugees had fled into the south from the north. The Korean War brought 2.1 million more. Most of these refugees and repatriates settled in Seoul and the other large cities. After the war, the urban population grew at a slower rate, but continued to increase steadily. In 1949, 17.21 % of the total population was concentrated in urban areas; by 1955,this had increased to 24.56 %; by 1960, 28.59%; and by 1966,33.59%.
In the last decade, migration patterns returned to the more usual rural- urban flow, and between 1955 and 1966 cities increased at a rate of nearly five percent per year, in contrast to the rural increase rate of about one and a half percent a year. The high population density and rapid creation of industrial jobs in urban areas were major contributing factors to this migration.
Only 13 % of the respondents of this study stated that their families had lived in Seoul for more than three generations. Most of the remaining respondents came to Seoul from other cities and towns. Those who came directly from rural areas were few, and now comprise the lower class of Seoul. Only those who had experience in urban life in other cities were able to adjust to the living conditions of Seoul’s middle class. This appears to be true of other cities also, so that in general Korean urbanization may be said to be a two-stage process ; rural residents migrate first to towns [page 19] and later move again from towns to cities. In the past ten years, towns (up, population 20,000-49,999) grew about as rapidly as cities (population 50,000 or more), at a rate of about 4.5 % per year, which is about three times the rural population growth rate.
With one of the highest population densities in Asia, and one of the fastest rates of industrialization in the world, Korea will very likely continue to display strong rural-urban migration patterns and rapidly growing cities for many years to come.
The process of industrialization, which commenced during the Japanese regime, accelerated after the Korean War. The number of people working in factories, businesses, and government offices has continually increased.