Joseon missions to Imperial China

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Joseon missions to Imperial China were Joseon diplomatic ventures which were intermittently sent in the years 1392-1894. These represent a significant aspect of the international relations of mutual Korean-Chinese contacts and communication.

Joseon diplomacy[edit]

A series diplomatic ventures illustrate the persistence of Joseon's sadae (serving the great) diplomacy in dealings with China. The chronology of one side in a bilateral relationship stands on its own.

This long-term, strategic policy contrasts with the gyorin (kyorin) (neighborly relations) diplomacy in dealings with Jurchen, Japan, Ryukyu Kingdom, Siam and Java.[1] Gyorin was applied to a multi-national foreign policy.[2] The unique nature of these bilateral diplomatic exchanges evolved from a conceptual framework developed by the Chinese. Gradually, the theoretical models would be modified, mirroring the evolution of a unique relationship.[3]

Envoys to the Ming court[edit]

Although the Joseon Dynasty considered 1392 as the foundation of the Joseon kingdom, Imperial China did not immediately acknowledge the new government on the Korean peninsula. In 1401, the Ming court recognized Joseon as a tributary state in its sino-centric schema of foreign relations. In 1403, the Yung-lo emperor conveyed a patent and a gold seal to Taejong of Joseon, thus confirming his status and that of his dynasty.[4]

Despite the label "tributary state", China did not interfere in Joseon domestic affairs and diplomacy.[4] Between 1392 and 1450, the Joseon court sent 351 missions to China.[5]

Year Sender Joseon chief envoy Emperor of China Comments
1592 Seonjo Yi Deok-hyeong[6] Wanli Joseon mission dispatched to Ming China to ask for military support[6]
1597 Seonjo Yi Su-gwang[7] Wanli Yi's encounters with Matteo Ricci provide impetus for the creation of the first Korean language encyclopedia
  • 1592 – Confronting Japanese invasion, Joseon sought aid from China.[6]
  • 1597Yi Su-gwang was the Joseon chief envoy from the Joseon court.[7]

Envoys to the Qing court[edit]

In this period, Joseon merchants of Gaeseong and Hanyang competed for profits; and they even accompanied the envoy missions to China in their search for new opportunities for financial gain.[8]

Year Sender Joseon chief envoy Emperor of China Comments
1795 Jeongjo Qianlong[9] Offering congratulations; celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Qianlong's reign.[10]
1872 Gojong Park Gyu-su[10] Tongzhi .

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chun-gil Kim The History of Korea, pp. 76-77. 7
  2. ^ (in Korean) 사대교린 (조선 외교), Britannica online Korea
  3. ^ Toby, Ronald P. (1991). State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu, p. 87.
  4. ^ a b Kang, Etsuko H. (1997). Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, p. 49.
  5. ^ Twitchett, Denis C. (1998). The Cambridge history of China, Vol. 8, The Ming dynasty, 1368-1644: Part 2, pp. 286-289.
  6. ^ a b c Jinju National Museum: Chronology, June 1592
  7. ^ a b Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch (RASKB): Yi Sugwang in Beijing (1597). May 2009.
  8. ^ Cheongwadae, Office of the President, Republic of Korea: About Korea>History>Goryeo & Joseon Dynasties>Late Joseon Period
  9. ^ a b vanBraam Houckgeest, André Everard. (1798). An Authentic Account of the Embassy of the Dutch East-India Company, to the Court of the Emperor of China, in the Years 1974 and 1795, p. 272.
  10. ^ a b c Kang, Jae-eun, and Suzanne Lee. (2006). The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of Korean Confucianism, p. 445