Duncan’s interpretation of events in regards to the transition from the Korean empire from Koryo to Choson is murky at best. Granted the article is interesting, but it appears he would like to draw more parallels to Chinese history than truly discussing Korea. Understandably, the two themes do intertwine, as they should. China was the one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen and would certainly have an impact on neighboring cultures. That is a given. Duncan, however, attempts to strengthen this tie rather than make an impact by stating exactly what transpired in Korea and supporting it with his own thoughts. From reviewing his work, it appears Choson became the capital of Korea due to a shift in social thinking. That did have its roots in Confucianism, but there was no revolution. Simply an alteration in thinking and how society approached issues.
Duncan’s article discusses many of the circumstances of religion, society and government in detail, but his main focus is the religion. In his opinion, it was not necessarily a revolution that placed Choson on the center of the map, but more a diversion between Buddhism and Confucianism. It was a time of change from Buddhism, which was the major influence at that time. So what Duncan’s point is yes, it was a result of Confucianism, but there were also other forces at work that enabled Choson to become the location of the new dynasty. What Duncan
does not discuss, is how civilizations go through natural cycles throughout their existence. This instance is an example of that. Under these circumstances, religion was a catalyst for transition but this is not unique to any great empire.