A Study on the existence aspect of the elderly in the Joseon Dynasty

조선시대 노인(老人)의 존재양상 - 연령과 신분을 중심으로 -

  • Received : 2017.05.02
  • Accepted : 2017.06.27
  • Published : 2017.06.30

Abstract

The elderly in the Joseon Dynasty consistently attracted attention from the national herb as objects of social respect. Based on the Confucian ideology, the old man was considered to be a receiving body, since he was a person with complete character as a man. The elderly, who have the character of being a slave, transcended their status, and both the souls and the people were transcended beyond their identities and attributes and became objects of respect. The perception of the elderly is divided by age. The persons who are 50 years old and start to be in physical decline were regarded as senior citizens. However, this was just mentioned as an inflection point between the prime of manhood and senior citizens and was not defined as the elderly. As a public duty called a national work ends when they are 60 years old, the age is truly the lowest limit of senior citizens who are applicable to all the social beings. However, because their public duties end when they are 60 years old and they were regarded as general members of society, special benefits were not granted to them. In the caste system and bureaucratic society, senior citizens' treatment were differently done by age. For the senior citizens who are 70 years old, various benefits were just granted to high government officials. Bokho(復戶) and Seojeong were first given to them. And the retirement age of government officials was not specially set. It was done in the way to treat Jonno with exceptional respect by Chisa(致仕: regular retirement). It is the most respectful treatment given to high government officials and ministers. For the senior citizens who are 80 years old, Yangnoyeon(養老宴) was held for both of Yangmin and Cheonmin as an measure to treat them considerately. In addition, official ranks(官品) with social value were allowed by giving them Noinjik (老人職). Official ranks given to Seoin and Cheonin were the best Jonno(尊老) policy. However, the Jonno policy related to senior citizens was different according to position and official ranks as follows: Kings were subjected to social treatment when they were 60 years old. High government officials and royal relatives of the senior grade of the second court rank were subjected to social treatment when they were 70 years old. And general Seoin and slaves were subjected to social treatment when they were respectively 80 and 90 years old. Senior citizens were individually supported. However, social value was granted because the nation supervised it. As Bokho and Sijeong were assigned according to position and official ranks and kinds of things were different, the social limit was clearly shown. Social order was put above the ideology called Jonno thought. However, Jonno acts by age and position did not stay at the individual level and the nation took care of the senior citizens who are the members of society in various ways based on Jonno thought. Society tried to take care of the senior citizens who had difficulties in their activities because of being in physical decline. The nation increased the existence value of the senior citizens by giving things(賜物) including chairs, rice, meat, and ice economically, exoneration(免罪), the reduction system, and wergild legally, and Noinjik called Gaja(加資) socially to them and changing them to the members of society. Yangnoyeon and Gaja held targeting people of every class by transcending position and official ranks make the point that the senior citizens who are more than 80 years old are subject to social jonno clear. That is, the senior citizens were subject to respect for the elderly as the persons who were socially respected transcending their position when they got to be 80 years old.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : 한국연구재단