Yan Yu (diplomat)

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Yan Yu was a Korean diplomat and ambassador, representing Joseon interests in a diplomatic mission to the Ashikaga shogunate (Muromachi bafuku) in Japan.

1409-1410 mission to Japan[edit]

King Taejong dispatched a diplomatic mission to Japan in 1409-1410.

  • 1409 (Ōei 16, 3rd month): In the 10th year of King Taejong's reign, an ambassador from the Joseon court was received in Kyoto.[1]

This delegation to court of Ashikaga Yoshimochi was led by Yan Yu. The purpose of this diplomatic embassy was to respond to a message sent to the Joseon court by the Japanese shogun.[2] The Joseon envoy conveyed a letter of condolences on the death of the shogun's father; and he also brought gifts, including cotton cloth, tiger skins, leopard skins and ginseng.[3] Yan Yu was empowered to offer to send a copy of a rare Buddhist text to Japan.[1]

The Japanese hosts may have construed this mission as tending to confirm a Japanocentric world order.[4] Yan Yu's actions were more narrowly focused in negotiating protocols for Joseon-Japan diplomatic relations.[2]

Recognition in the West[edit]

Yan Yu's historical significance was confirmed when his mission was specifically mentioned in a widely distributed history published by the Oriental Translation Fund in 1834.[1]

In the West, early published accounts of the Joseon kingdom are not extensive, but they are found in Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu (published in Paris in 1832),[5] and in Nihon ōdai ichiran (published in Paris in 1834). Joseon foreign relations and diplomacy are explicitly referenced in the 1834 work.

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