An interesting part of the Korean history is a group of people who adhere to moral and spiritual standards called the Yangban. These people did not only get themselves involved in the religious affairs of the society but were also able to put into practice their beliefs by getting involved in political matters, particularly in leadership.
It is worthwhile to study this group and learn from their experience. There are a number of important things we can gain from knowing how they came to be and how they eventually lose control of themselves and their ideals.
The New World Encyclopedia gives a brief yet concise definition of the Yangban.1 The Yangban were a well-educated scholarly class of male Confucian scholars who were part of the ruling elite in Korea prior to 1945 and during the Republic period of Korean history. Yangban literally means "both classes." It refers to the two classes that consist of: munban or the literary class, and muban or the martial class. The yangban were the ones responsible for maintaining Confucian standards and elevating the morality of the society.2
According to sources, the yangban tradition of a close network based on education, teachers, family background, and city of origin, had been a major part of the Korean ruling class of both the North and the South Korea. Contrary to the way things used to be, at present, the yangban no longer enjoy nor possess the same advantage and privilege in the government. However, until the present time many Koreans still boast of having a yangban ancestor.3 Being associated with this class brings a sense of pride and belongingness that seems to elevate one’s self-image amid the devastating effects of current trends and practices.
This ancestry can be traced through the Chokbo, the Korean equivalent of a family tree which is passed down in each family through the eldest son. This is passed on from generation to generation. Yangban connotes a high and dignified class status, even in the