Sungkyunkwan, also called Taehak (태학, 太學), was the foremost education institution in Korea during the late Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties.
Gukjagam (국자감,國子監), the highest education system during the Goryeo Dynasty was established in November 992 by King Seongjong. Gukjagam was renamed Sungkyunkwan in June 1304, and then relocated to the old site of Seongmun-gwan in 1367 during the reign of King Gongmin near the end of the Goryeo Dynasty. After the founding of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392, King Taejo relocated Sungkyunkwan to Hanseong, current Seoul, and also founded 360 Hyanggyos nationwide in July 1398, establishing a national education system.
Sungkyunkwan was destroyed by fire in 1400 and rebuilt in 1407. Sungkyunkwan was rebuilt again in 1601 after it was destroyed during the Japanese invasions. During the colonial era between 1910–1945, royal Sungkyunkwan was demoted to private institution and renamed to Gyunghakwon, and Korean education was prohibited and Japanese education was forced nationwide. After Korea gained independence in 1945, Gyeonghakwon was renamed to Sungkyunkwan and with the funding from Yurim (confucians) nationwide, Sungkyunkwan University was established.
Sungkyunkwan's teachings were mainly Confucian-related, and was largely aimed at preparing students for government services. The main goal was for the students to pass the civil service examinations, also known as gwageo, which assessed the ability to interpret the Chinese classics in terms of official Neo-Confucian ideology. The set number of students were 150 when Sungkyunkwan was founded, and raised to 200 in 1429.
Entrance examinations for Sungkyunkwan were extremely harsh, and was only allowed for the sons of high-ranking officials or yangbans. There were two ways to be accepted into Sungkyunkwan. Either the students had to pass the two admission exams, Saeng-wonsi (생원시) and Jinsasi (진사시), or take the other two examinations, Seungbo (승보) and Eumseo (음서). If they passed these examinations, they were given the opportunity to be accepted. Once accepted, the students had to complete the curriculum and also fulfill the minimal attendance score of 300 Wonjeom (원점) to qualify for the first test of the civil service exams.