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The kings of Joseon were not only rulers who received a divine calling, but they also studied and strove to become seongin, a man of sanctity or a virtuous man. This is why the academic disciplines pursued by the kings were called seonghak, which literally means the study of a man of sanctity. In Joseon, it was believed that kings should study in order to build an admirable character, like a man of sanctity, rather than learning excellent political skills as those taught by Niccolò Machiavelli. Thus, the creation of 󰡔Hunminjeongeum (lit. Proper Sounds to Instruct the People), a manuscript written to teach the people the new and native script for the Korean language, arose from the virtuous practice of love for the people, and this was no accident. For seonghak, the royal family constantly collected the best books. In other words, the books issued or read by the royal family set the standard for the books distributed across Joseon.



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