Directed by Kim Hong-seon (김홍선)
Screenplay by Yang Hee-seong (양희승)
Jeong Yak-yong, also Jeong Yag-yong or Dasan (1762?1836), was a leading Korean religious philosopher during the Joseon Dynasty. He is commonly regarded as the greatest of the Silhak thinkers, who advocated that the formalist Neo-Confucian religious philosophy of Joseon return to practical concerns. Jeong Yag-yong and his brothers were also among the earliest Korean converts to Roman Catholicism
Jeong served the government in a variety of capacities throughout his life. He supervised the construction of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon in the early 1790s. In 1794, he served as secret royal inspector (암행어사) of Gyeonggi province, investigating misconduct by other officials. This opened his eyes to the scale of official misconduct, and may have inspired much of his later writings.
Jeong is known above all for his work in synthesizing the Neo-Confucian thought of middle Joseon. In the process, he wrote widely in fields including law, political theory, and the Confucian Classics. He sought to return Confucian scholarship to a direct connection with the original thought of Confucius. He called this return to the classics "Susa" (수사/洙泗) learning, a reference to the two rivers that flowed through Confucius' homeland.
In the service of this idea, Jeong criticized the philosophers of his time for engaging in both fruitless etymological scholarship and pursuing philosophical theory for its own sake. He argued that scholarship should be re-focused on more important concerns such as music, ritual, and law. This was not only an intellectual but a political assertion: he argued that the gwageo examinations by which people qualified for royal service should be reformed to focus on these concerns.
At different times in his life, Jeong adopted a wide variety of ho, or pen names. The most well-known of these, Dasan, means "tea mountain." Jeong adopted it while in internal exile near a mountain of the same name, in Gangjin County, on the coast of South Jeolla province. Other pen names of his include Sammi (삼미/三眉), Yeoyudang (여유당/與猶堂), Saam (사암/俟菴), Jahadoin (자하도인/紫霞道人), Tagong (탁옹/?翁), Taesu (태수/苔?), Munamirin (문암일인/門巖逸人), and Cheolmasancho (철마산초/鐵馬山樵).
At birth, his father gave Jeong the courtesy name Gwinong, (귀농/歸農), which means "returning to the land." This reflected his father's decision to leave government service in the wake of King Yeongjo's murder of the crown prince.
As a Roman Catholic, he received the baptismal name John, or 요한 (Yohan), in Korean.
After his death, the King bestowed on Jeong the posthumous name Mundo (문도/文度). Mun refers to writing or literature, and do to law.
He was the uncle of Saint Paul Chong Hasang.
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