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The Struggle of “Sevring the Great” and “Guarding the Land” in Late Choson under the regin between Prince Kwanghae and King Hyojong(1608-1659)
serving the great
As per current research, the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) found it difficult to move on from Ming dynastic rule (1368-1644) after the Ming-Qing transition and was hesitant to change the object of sadae (i.e. “serving the great”) diplomacy from the Ming to the Qing. Though outwardly, the Chosun Dynasty served the Qing, in practice, they continued using the former Ming dynastic system. Sadae diplomacy was originally practiced by kings of the Chosun Dynasty, and even kings of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392), as a defensive tactic in foreign affairs. This thesis endeavors to investigate the Chosun Dynasty’s inability to objectively use sadae diplomacy after the Ming-Qing transition. The thesis will first explore the Chosun Dynasty’s reasons for practicing sadae diplomacy and the changes effected therein. The thesis also delves into the pre-Chosun period to see how kings from past dynasties utilized sadae diplomacy to gain and strengthen their foothold. The thesis will then examine three kings of the late Chosun period—Kwanghae, Injo and Hyojong—and how they coped with the transition from the Ming to the Qing in sadae diplomacy. This thesis argues that the Chosun Dynasty utilized sadae diplomacy differently from past dynasties which viewed it as merely a way of interacting with neighboring countries. Conceptually, sadae diplomacy integrates the Zuo Tradition, Mencius and Zhu Xi schools of thought and draws heavily from Confucianism. However, the fact that the Chosun Dynasty received aid from the Ming Dynasty during the Japanese invasion of Korea (1592-11598) made it difficult for the Chosun Dynasty to view the Ming-Qing power dynamics in an objective manner. For this reason, the three kings from the late Chosun Period—Kwanghae, Injo and Hyojong—and the scholars began a great debate on issues pertaining to sadae, “serving the great”, and “guarding the land”. This thesis examines the changes in sadae diplomacy by looking at the debate between these three kings and the scholars of that time. Moreover, this thesis argues that changes in sadae diplomacy occurred during the Ming-Qing transition due to the protracted and complicated deliberations amongst the Chosun kings and the scholars in matters regarding national security and interests, domestic politics and foreign affairs.
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