This attitude toward life was consistent with his concern for the improvement of the individual as well as for society as a whole. Yul-Gok's concern for sincerity, loyalty, and the improvement of the individual was manifested in his own actions toward others. His stepmother enjoyed drinking wine, a practice Yul-Gok never approved of. Every morning, year after year, he brought her several cups of wine, never reproaching her for her habit. Finally, she decided on her own to stop drinking without ever having been told of his displeasure. In gratitude for those years of non-judgmental dedication, Yul-Gok's stepmother clad herself in white mourning attire for three years after his death.
Yul-Gok was also deeply involved in government and public affairs. He passed the state examinations at the very young age of 24 and was ultimately appointed to several ministerial positions including that of Minister of Defense. He did more for establishing a mechanism to obtain the opinion of the common people, a national consensus, than any man in Korean history. Popular opinion of the masses, he felt, must arise spontaneously from the total population. He knew that the survival and vitality of a kingdom depended directly upon whether public opinion was obtained from all sections of the population. Yul-Gok felt that public resentment could be directly attributed to misrule. Therefore, rulers should pay closer heed to the voices of their subjects. He was convinced that when impoverished people are deprived of their humanity, morality crumbles, and penal systems are rendered ineffective. Because of his beliefs and his fear for the survival of the kingdom, Yul-Gok initiated many attempts at government reform. In one such effort, he sought to establish local government structures that were based on an education according to the philosophy of Chu-Hsi. He drew up set of village articles (Hyang-Yak) designed to instruct the villagers of Hae-ju in Confucian ethics. This government, however, was run by the elite class (Yang-Ban) and ultimately failed due to corruption.