ISSN : 1229-0076
Cotton manufacturing in Korea is known to have started with Mun Ik-jeom (1329-1398), who brought cottonseeds from China during the last days of the Goryeo dynasty. Despite the great achievement of Mun’s introduction of cottonseeds, by focusing exclusively on Mun or a few historic figures, we tend to disregard the more crucial agencies to have made this great social transformation possible. To complement existing scholarship, the paper address the agency of Hoseung Hongwon 胡僧弘願in social transformation of medieval Korea. Starting with the introduction contextualizing the spread of cotton in a wider perspective, it consists of three main sections: firstly, which identifies the presence and role of the foreign monk in the official narratives of Goryeo and Joseon; secondly, which examines the actual significance of his contribution—ginning and carding (also known as bucking or batting)—to the distribution of cotton cloth making; and lastly to suggest his presumed Tibetan or Inner Asian origin in connection to its long cotton culture tradition and to Buddhist trade network on the Silk Road and to scrutinize the trajectory of how his story was treated and forgotten over the course of the time. The research shows that the Korean cotton manufacturing process was not an isolated event made by a heroic effort of a single person, but an outcome of the connected world of the period.