Songgye is self-governing organization of the people in each village to protect the environment and use forest resources wisely, by assigning the amount of timbering and creation of forest annually and collecting labors and fund autonomously in order to continuously use forest around them who solely depended on wood for fuel and the remaining materials are the code of it.
The oldest material about Songgye is Geumsonggye, e.g. Geuman-dong, Noan-myon, Naju-gun, Jeollanam-do. We can find out the prototype of 1715 established Geuman-dong, Geumsonggye which is 50 years earlier that 1763 Songmyeong-dong Geumsonggye in 1681 Hyangyak sent to Geuman-dong. Songgye's background of establishment has close relationship with forest ownership in Joseon era. In the early Joseon period, all territory belonged to the king, however, in the later Joseon, public concept of land ownership that had sustained feudal dynasty started to be shaken by Royal family or powers. Especially passing Byeongjahoran andImjinwaeran, land economy collapsed and privatization of land processed rapidly during 18th century.
Consequently, in late 17th and early 18th centuries, the size of forest that common people can use was reduced. So, Songgye was the design of powerless folks who purposed to secure the exclusive use right of the forest in each village. Songgye, like this, can be said to be a derivative product in the process of privatization of public land, that is, social change in the use of forest in the late Joseon era.
An organization that has been formed autonomously to utilize continuously forest resources of pine grove around the village The members of Songgye were all village members. Songgye was a system to use fully the forest by sharing the possession of its conomic functions for poor people when getting fuel was as important as getting food like the example Yonghwa-ri Songgye saying to die frozen and to die starved are the same.
Not depending on the government, the members of the villages established and operated autonomously the organization. They operated by themselves collecting public opinions to use effectively fuel resources which are most essential for the community life.
They made forest preservation organization and received commission from magistrate. The code for forest preservation was repared in order not to spoil the sustainability by mass timbering. If a member violates the code, he or she was subjected to fine or hipping and if person other than members committed, they informed magistrate against the person and to be punished. And, the embers did shift work for watching mountain in person and protected the pine grove. This system means they used enough the complex features of forest resources, both economic function and environmental one.
They ran Songgye without any external supports by community funds. The operation of Songgye was recorded that it was done by raising goods like rice or a certain amount of funds and the funds were also used for the marriages or funerals.