A Relationship Between Confucian Discussions and Martyrdom
This study examined the types of suicide martyrdom that existed in the Late Joseon Dynasty and Japanese Colonial Era and its historical origin, and discussed that suicide martyrdom is closely correlated to Confucian discourses.
In the Confucian culture, the will of fight was frequently demonstrated through suicide at the change of dynasty or invasion of other countries, and suicide settled as historical traditional and continued on ceaselessly as praised in later generations. There were approximately 120 suicide martyrs in the Late Joseon Dynasty and Japanese Colonial Era, and their suicides may be related to the tradition in the previous times.
Suicide martyrdom in the Late Joseon Dynasty and Japanese Colonial Era can be categorized into fast, taking poison, self-injury, leaping to death, and other type. With an exception of suicide by poison, which was not common in the previous times, the examples of figures for suicide type and the cases of suicides that Confucian scholars facing national crisis carried out are as follows.
Classic examples of suicide by fast include Baekyi(伯夷) and Sa Bangdeuk(謝枋得), which can be found through the cases of Lee Yangwon(李陽元)·Neungseong Gu clan(綾城具氏) in Imjinwaeran War, and Choi Hyoil(崔孝一) in Byeongjahoran War. Examples of suicide by leaping include Gul Won(屈原) and No Jungryeon(魯仲連), and suicides of Park Jihwa(朴枝華), Kim Cheonil(金千鎰), Ko Jonghu(高從厚), etc. during Imjinwaeran War may be mentioned. Examples of suicide by self-injury include Wang Chok(王蠋) and Jeon Hoeng(田橫), and cases such as Kim Sangyong(金尙容), Song Siyoung(宋時榮) who committed suicide when Qing Dynasty captured Ganghwado, and Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Na, etc. may be presented as evidence.
Suicide martyrdom in the Late Joseon Dynasty and Japanese Colonial Era is in the continuum of historical tradition, and comments and actions of suicide martyrs are closely correlated to the following Confucian discourses. First, they are not irrelevant to the cultural consciousness of Joseon that professed itself as the center of Chinese civilization since Qing Dynasty. Second, they were the manifestation of patriotism to sacrifice their lives in the national crisis. Third, they were the result of consciousness to realize loyalty and preserve Tao(道) of Confucianism.