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Hangul 사대주의
Revised Romanization Sadaejuui
McCune–Reischauer Sataechuŭi

Sadaejuui (lit. "serving-the-Great-ism," Hangul: 사대주의, Chinese: 事大主義, Chinese: 事大主义) is a largely pejorative Korean term which evolved in the mid-20th century from a more widely used historical concept.[1]

The contemporary term sadaejuui was derived from the Chinese shi da (Korean, sadae) as used by the philosopher, Mencius.

  • Sadae literally means "dealing with the great" or "serving the great"[2] and interpreted as "Loving and admiring the great and powerful".[3]
  • Juui means "ideology" and it is conventionally translated as "-ism."[4]

In other words, sadaejuui is a compound-word composed of sadae + juui.


The term "sadaejuui" was invented by early 20th century Korean nationalists.[5] The antecedents of this modern term is the historic term "sadae" (事大), which comes from the word 以小事大 in Mencius's (孟子) book, which means "service to the great by the small" or "a small kingdom accommodates a large."[1]

  • 梁惠王下
  • Mencius - Liang Hui Wang II


Sadaejuui conflates an attitude of subservience with the political realism which accompanies the prudent recognition of greater power.[1] Sadae describes a foreign policy characterized by the various ways a small country acknowledges the strength of a greater power like that of China. Sadae is made manifest in the actions of the weaker state as it conveys goodwill and respect through its envoys.

The utility of the sadae concept in Korea was recognized from the period of Three Kingdoms of Korea to 1897;[2] and it is demonstrated in the relationship of mid-Joseon Korea towards the Ming Dynasty of China.[7] The Joseon kingdom made every effort to maintain a friendly relationship with Beijing for reasons having to do with both realpolitik and an idealized Confucian worldview in which China is perceived as the center of a Confucian moral universe.[8]

The kingdom of Joseon accepted its place in a Sino-centristic world order. The Joseon foreign policy was organized around maintaining stable Joseon-Chinese relations in the period from 1392 through 1910. It contrasts with limited trade relationships or kyorin diplomacy (교린정책; lit. "neighborly relations") in regard to Joseon-Japanese relations in this period.[9]

The concept of sadaejuui was central in the writings of polemicist Shin Chaeho. His ideas and voice became prominent features of Korean nationalism.[10] Sin is known for having argued that the sadaejuui inherent in Confucian historiography served

  • to devalue the ethnic origins of the Korean people and state [11]
  • to subjugate Korean history within a Confucian interpretive framework [11]

His revisionist writings sought to deny the relevance of sadae as an important element of Korean history.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Armstrong, Charles K. (2007). The Koreas, p. 57-58., p. 57, at Google Books
  2. ^ a b Pratt, Kieth L. et al. (1999). Korea: a historical and cultural dictionary, p. 384.
  3. ^ Alford, C. Fred. (1999). Think no evil: Korean values in the age of globalization, p. 150., p. 150, at Google Books
  4. ^ Duchatel, Mathieu. Nationalisme et sentiment nationaliste en Corée (Nationalism and Nationalist Sentiment in Korea). IEP Paris, DEAA comparative des Aires Politiques, p. 4 n1.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Anthony. "Happier Economy Better Than Larger Economy," Korea Times (Seoul). October 12, 2008.
  6. ^ Liang Hui Wang II, Chinese Text Project
  7. ^ 구도영 (Koo Do-young). 중종대(中宗代) 사대인식(事大認識)의 변화 - 대례의(大禮議)에 대한 별행(別行) 파견 논의를 중심으로 ("Changes regarding ‘Perception of Sadae’(事大認識) that became apparent during the reign of King Jungjong - Examination of Discussions over the issue of dispatching a special envoy(別行) about the Grand ceremony(大禮議) in Ming(明) dynasty’s court"),] 역사와 현실 제62호, 2006.12 (History and Reality, No. 62, December 2006). pp. 3-405.
  8. ^ Mansourov, Alexandre Y. "Will Flowers Bloom without Fragrance? Korean-Chinese Relations," Archived 2008-01-08 at the Wayback Machine. Harvard Asia Quarterly (Spring 2009).
  9. ^ Kang, Etsuko H. (1997). Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, p. 49.
  10. ^ Robinson, Michael. (1984) "National Identity and the Thought of Shin Ch'ae-ho: Sadaejuüi and Chuch'e in History and Politics," Journal of Korean Studies, Vol. 5, pp. 121–142.
  11. ^ a b Robinson, p. 129.
  12. ^ Robinson, pp. 131-132.