ISSN : 0023-3900
This study examines the movement to adopt democracy during the enlightenment period, Korea's first intellectual attempt to fuse Confucianism and democracy. This paper focuses on the context within which the enlightenment intellectuals adopted the ideas of liberty and rule by the people (minchi), core concepts of democracy. More concretely, this paper first explores how enlightenment intellectuals adopted the democratic concept of rule by the people on Confucian soil, where explicitly defined concepts as rule of the people (minbon) and for the people (wimin) were not extant. Then this paper examines how they adopted the value of liberty, a concept focusing on the rights of both parties engaged in a bilateral contract, based on the Confucian tradition that emphasized morality in the establishment of ethical order centering on exchange of duty for mutual benefit.The findings are summarized as follows: First, in adopting the Western principle of rule by the people, which was represented by the provision of political rights and the right of resistance, Korean enlightenment intellectuals focused on making the latent Confucian counterpart principles manifest. Second, they clung to Confucian tradition by matching the Western notions of liberty (right) and rule of law with the Confucian ideas of mutual benefit and rule of virtue. For rule by the people, enlightenment intellectuals admitted the weakness of Confucianism and attempt its reinterpretation. For liberty (right) and the rule of law, they strongly defended the superiority of the Confucian notions of mutual benefit and moral politics.