The Chos?n period in Korean history (1392-1910) fits uncomfortably into emerging narratives of world history. While its culture has been granted esteem, its political, social, and economic institutions are generally termed "pre-modern","traditional" or perhaps, "early modern". Alexander Woodside, among others, challenges such characterizations, positing the notion of "lost modernities" to understand the governmental systems of Vietnam, Korea, and China before the twentieth century, finding in their bureaucratic systems patterns of rational selection and organization comprehensible as "modern". This study examines statistically the rosters of 3,857 candidates successful in High State Civil Examination (munkwa) examination between 1545-1720. Using survival analysis and logistic regression, it finds that: (1) the most powerful lineages of the period did not gain privilege through early examination passing; (2) examination rank and age are predictive of future career advancement to tangsang or ministerial position, indicative of a rationally predictive system of selection and promotion; and (3) there was a center-periphery difference in patterns of career advancement, but not one that favored the lineages of the top three quartiles of examination passers. The data thus buttress an interpretation viewing the Chos?n bureaucratic system as substantially rational and in accord with "modern" techniques of selection and promotion to high position.