In considering how the position retained its prestige even after it lost its original military function, the fact that the central aristocrats continued to receive generalships, especially the two "leftover" positions, is noteworthy.
55) Yun's appointment as a general was in line with the 1865 law code's stipulation that one of the two "leftover" Five Guards generalships be reserved for an individual who was neither a civil nor a military examination graduate.
Granting generalships could have been a means for the center to play a role in influencing local elites to its advantage by making them more cooperative with centrally appointed magistrates, and the southern aristocracy wanted none of it.
Such intentions by the state and its aristocratic proprietors is evident in the way the regional elites of disputed aristocratic credentials, such as those of Kaesong and the north, accepted generalships.
Considering the city's history, it seems natural that the wealthy elite of Kaesong often acquired Five Guards generalships.
Socioeconomic assets and cultural accomplishments seem to have helped the northern elite receive generalships.
Since we have already considered technical specialists, let us consider local functionaries many of whom, in the waning years of Choson, attained generalships thanks to their social or economic capital.
The generalship attracted them because it was not only contingent upon merit--good service, financial support, or scholarship at an advanced age--but also could entail actual responsibility in the form of a security function.
The clear social utility of the generalship raises further questions.
Rewards and honors such as a generalship would have been appealing only so long as the recipients were more or less willing to accept the status quo.
Thus an assessment of the efficacy of honors such as the Five Guards generalship in a status-bound society holds great significance for the social history of Korea.
According to the local notable listings in the gazetteer published in 1855, the generalship was held by 2 out of 114 civil examination passers, 49 out of 2,136 military examination passers, and 15 out of 149 protection appointees (having neither a civil nor a military examination degree).