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    Samin School, started by Sejong’s strong will and urging of the court, also received a positive response from the people.

    On the opening day of Samin School, it was not only children who flocked to the schools. The children’s parents also gathered in front of Samin School, chatting and gossiping.

    “They say they’ll feed the kids?”

    “That’s right. They say they’ll definitely provide one meal a day.”

    The man who asked the question sighed in relief at the answer from the neighboring man beside him.

    “Phew, that’s one less worry.”

    “Why? Worried the kids might starve?”

    “That’s not it. Those little brats, with bodies the size of puppies, eat like oxen, so I was worried. But if they eat one less meal, that’s fortunate.”

    “Hey! Talking about people!”

    Shortly after, the doors of Samin School opened, and the teachers who would instruct the children came out.

    As the teachers emerged, the clamor that had been bustling immediately died down. People’s attitudes toward the teachers were very cautious.

    Their cautious attitude was partly due to showing respect in front of the teachers, but the teachers’ attire also played a role.

    The male teachers were all wearing black Confucian robes (note 1) and Confucian hats (note 2). On the forehead part of the Confucian hats, there was a circular gold ornament with the Chinese character “教” (teach) engraved on it.

    The female teachers were wearing black skirts and jackets, and they were also wearing black short-sleeved tops called “dansam” (note 3).

    One distinctive feature was that they did not wear the “gache” (wig), which was an essential item for royal and noble family women. Instead, they wore a black “jokduri” (a type of traditional Korean hat), and in the center of the jokduri, there was also a gold ornament with the character “教” engraved on it.

    Lastly, both the Confucian robes and dansam had gold lines on the sleeves, and in the center of the gold lines, there was a gold-leaf peony flower pattern.

    ***

    All of this was also Hyang’s idea.

    “They say you shouldn’t even step on a teacher’s shadow, but there are women too, right? Problems could arise. We need something to prove authority. What would be good?”

    As Hyang pondered a good item, a 21st-century university graduation ceremony came to his mind. He remembered the professors and students all wearing black gowns and square academic caps.

    “That’s it!”

    The black uniforms the teachers were wearing now were a suitable adaptation based on that memory.

    When Sejong first saw the uniforms Hyang had made, he shared his impression.

    “Isn’t the ink-black color too intimidating?”

    In response to Sejong’s point, Hyang explained the reason.

    “It’s not solely for the authority of the teachers. Ink-black is the heaviest color. This serves as a constant reminder of the gravity of the teachers’ duties. What is Samin School? A place that simply teaches letters and numbers? No! It is a place that teaches children who do not yet properly know right from wrong, nurturing the pillars who will support this Joseon. How is this task not important?”

    “Those words are correct!”

    At Hyang’s explanation, Sejong loudly exclaimed his agreement. The ministers also had the same expression as Sejong.

    Because even when compared to the teachings of the sages, Hyang’s words were not wrong.

    Thanks to this, Hyang’s words were printed and distributed to Samin School schools nationwide after undergoing a mounting process. The place where these mounted frames were hung was the teachers’ office.

    The black teacher uniforms created in this way became the common uniform worn by teachers not only in Samin School but also in Middle School (middle schools).

    These teacher uniforms became the pride and tradition of those who dedicated themselves to the teaching profession in Joseon.

    As time passed and changes in attire occurred, the black Confucian robes, dansam, Confucian hats, and jokduri remained unchanged as the teachers’ uniforms.

    Of course, there were those who cried out for a “new era” and rejected such teacher uniforms, but most teachers did not abandon the uniforms, even if they made minor improvements.

    “Abandoning these teacher uniforms means abandoning the sacred intentions of our great ancestors!”

    In the end, there was a clash between the “old fogeys” and the “foolish dreamers” over the teacher uniforms.

    ***

    Regardless of what happened in the future, with the opening of Samin School, many parents in Joseon gained hope.

    “Our children must be in a better position than us!”

    Perhaps because that hope was overheated, laughable incidents occurred in a few places.

    In a village near Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

    “Were there always this many children in our village?”

    As one man tilted his head while looking at the children filling the area in front of the doors of Samin School, a neighboring man beside him scolded him.

    “Dol Soe’s father, haven’t you heard the story?”

    “What story?”

    “You know Madam Kang from the neighboring village is among the teachers at our village’s school, right?”

    “Who is Madam Kang?”

    As the man named Dol Soe’s father stood on tiptoe to look at the teachers, the neighboring man raised his hand and pointed.

    “Over there, the third one from the right.”

    Dol Soe’s father, who found the female teacher in question at the neighbor’s words, nodded his head.

    “She looks a bit feisty. You’re saying the number of children at Samin School increased because of that teacher? Why?”

    “That teacher has three sons, and while raising her in-laws alone, she made all three of them pass the civil service examination.”

    “Oh my!”

    “And she taught them herself and made them pass without even a writing teacher.”

    “Oh my!”

    At the neighbor’s words, Dol Soe’s father’s eyes grew as wide as they could. As Dol Soe’s father couldn’t hide his surprise, the neighbor continued excitedly.

    “Although they didn’t come in first place, all three sons passed the higher civil service examination in the first and second divisions at the age of weak capping (20 years old)! And without even going through Seonggyungwan (Confucian academy)!”

    “Oh! Impressive!”

    As the story continued, Dol Soe’s father couldn’t conceal his astonishment. Seeing Dol Soe’s father’s reaction, the neighbor continued the story with excitement.

    “So, when His Majesty heard the rumor… He told her to teach at Middle School, but she declined.”

    “Why?”

    The moment Dol Soe’s father expressed his question, those nearby also showed the same expression. Before they knew it, those around them had also become immersed in the story.

    In response to Dol Soe’s father’s question, the neighbor swallowed his saliva to wet his throat and continued.

    “That teacher replied, ‘It was only because the children were intelligent that such results were achieved, and she did nothing special.'”

    “How humble!”

    “Right? In response to that answer, His Majesty spoke again, saying, ‘Even if the children’s talents are bright, if there is no one to properly teach them, those talents cannot blossom.'”

    “As expected of His Majesty! His insight is different!”

    “So, even when he ordered again, she declined? The reason was… ‘Those who have reached Middle School aim for the civil service examination, so they must figure it out on their own. However, Samin School is for children who are just starting to learn, so they must be taught the joy of learning.’ And she remained as a teacher at Samin School.”

    “Oh my…”

    Dol Soe’s father, who had been expressing admiration at the neighbor’s words, tilted his head again.

    “I understand that the teacher is amazing, but why did the children flock here? If it’s for the civil service examination, they should go to Middle School, right?”

    In response to Dol Soe’s father’s words, the neighbor gave a simple answer.

    “You fool! You need to look further! What did you hear earlier? She said those who have reached Middle School must figure it out on their own, right? What’s the most important thing to figure it out on your own? You need to know how to study. But that teacher said, ‘They must be taught the joy of learning’…”

    “Ah!”

    Before the neighbor could finish his words, Dol Soe’s father and those nearby who were listening to the story all exclaimed in admiration.

    ***

    Three months before the opening of Samin School.

    “My lord, what do you think about us moving?”

    “Moving?”

    Kim Saengwon asked back with a puzzled face at his wife’s sudden suggestion to move.

    In response to Kim Saengwon’s question, his wife, Madam Han, answered with more emphasis.

    “Yes. I’d like us to move to the neighboring village.”

    “Why?”

    “I heard that among the teachers at the Samin School being established in the neighboring hyeon (district), there is Madam Kang.”

    “Who is Madam Kang that you say that?”

    In response to Kim Saengwon’s question, Madam Han explained in detail about Madam Kang.

    After hearing the story, Kim Saengwon still couldn’t hide his puzzlement.

    “Although she is an impressive woman, I don’t quite understand why we should move because of that…”

    “Husband!”

    Madam Han raised her voice.

    “Look around you! The people in the village call you Saengwon and call our house the Saengwon’s house, but according to the law, we are also just commoners, right?”

    At Madam Han’s point, Kim Saengwon’s head drooped. As Sejong changed the law, Kim Saengwon lost his Saengwon (student) qualification by a narrow margin. Therefore, Madam Han’s words were like rubbing salt on Kim Saengwon’s painful wound.

    Seeing Kim Saengwon’s reaction, Madam Han gently consoled him.

    “Of course, there’s no need to worry since you are preparing for the civil service examination again, but we need to think about our children’s future too. If we lay a good foundation from now on, won’t it be easier for our children to pass the civil service examination in the future?”

    To study well, one needed not only a good mind but also to persist and cling to books.

    The best way to have this persistence was to enjoy studying.

    Therefore, after hearing Madam Han’s words, Kim Saengwon had no choice but to nod.

    “All right… Let’s do it, let’s move.”

    This incident didn’t only happen in Kim Saengwon’s household.

    ***

    Seeing Dol Soe’s father’s expression, the neighbor concluded.

    “That’s why the noble families nearby sent all their children who are just starting to learn to read and write here.”

    “Is that possible?”

    “Didn’t you see the tile-roofed houses that were built in large numbers around our village recently? If it were Jeolla or Gyeongsang Province, it would be a problem, but if it’s nearby, they just gloss over it and come in.”

    At the neighbor’s words, Dol Soe’s father couldn’t close his gaping mouth.

    “Oh my…”

    It was the first case in the history of the Korean Peninsula of fake moving to pursue a good school district.

    This wasn’t just happening here. Similar incidents occurred near Samin School schools where there were rumors of a female teacher who was known for providing excellent education to her children or a teacher who had outstanding scores on the teacher appointment exam.

    In the end, a report was submitted to Sejong.

    After reading the report, Sejong looked at Hyang and the ministers.

    “How should we handle this correctly?”

    In response to Sejong’s question, the ministers answered with a nonchalant expression.

    “There is a saying, ‘Mencius’ mother moved three times for his education,’ so how about just letting it slide? Isn’t it for the purpose of educating their children well?”

    “Is that so? That could be the case.”

    As Sejong nodded at the ministers’ words, Hyang stepped forward.

    “We must thoroughly prevent it, Your Majesty!”

    “Why?”

    “Firstly, if they keep moving like that, it will cause problems with the household registers. If the household registers become a mess, everything from taxes to everything else will be disrupted, so we must stop it!

    Secondly, if they move to follow famous teachers, it will create discord among the teachers! This will also have a negative impact on the learning children, so it must be prevented!

    Lastly, in the case of teachers, they are rotated every 3 years! If this happens every time, it will be a nightmare!”

    As the ministers listened to the Crown Prince’s points and tried to make predictions, their faces, especially Kim Jeom’s, gradually turned pale.

    In the end, the ministers instantly reversed their opinions.

    “The Crown Prince’s words are truly reasonable!”

    Eventually, by Sejong’s strict order, a thorough investigation into fake moving was carried out.

    As a result of the investigation, children confirmed to have fake moved had to transfer to the Samin School they were originally supposed to attend, and the households that had fake moved had to pay a hefty fine.

    ***

    Note 1) Image of Confucian robes.

    http://dh.aks.ac.kr/Encyves/wiki/index.php/%EB%B0%95%EC%84%B8%EC%B1%84_%EC%B4%88%EC%83%81(%EC%9C%A0%EB%B3%B5%EB%B3%B8)

    Note 2) Image of Confucian hat.

    https://folkency.nfm.go.kr/kr/topic/detail/7137

    Note 3) Image of dansam.

    https://theqoo.net/square/759337965

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