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Establishment and Operation of Trade System with Ming in Early Joseon Dynasty

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2013, (109), pp.85-140
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Doyoung Koo 1

1한밭대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Joseon improved the negative conventions of Goryeo dynasty(高麗代) and established the trade system with Ming which complied with Ming’s tributary system in its foundation. As the result, legal trade is limited to the trade through tributary envoy, that is envoy trade, and trans-border trade and seaborne trade were defined as illegal trade. As China adopted different tributary trade systems for each tributary state and the tributary state also had different trade attitudes toward China depending on era, the concept of trade can be accurately understood only after the trade policy and type at that time is understood first. Joseon’s trade with Ming can be divided into tribute-offering trade, public trade and private trade depending on the ‘main agent and type of the trade’. The tribute-offering trade refers to the act in which Ming gave returns to the offerings from Joesen though envoy trade. Public trade refers to the trade controlled by Joseon government. Private trade refers to all other private trades except the government-driven public trade. There was no legal governmental trade between Joseon and Ming. As Ming allowed Joseon to trade necessary goods through Hoedonggwan(會同館) commerce. it was easy to distinguish between public trade and private trade by the orderer of the purchase of Joseon envoy. Although the tribute-offering trade was a ritual in the tribute system, it may be regarded as a commerce in that the returns was a kind of payment for the offerings. The offering items and return items were designated by Ming. In particular, as the offerings are those items that should be offered to Ming, preparing those had a considerable impact on Joseon's entire economy. Hoedonggwan commerce was initiated by the application for commerce by Joseon envoy to Tonggeongsa(通政司) and subsequent public announcement of payment by Jugaeksa(主客司). If the commerce is allowed, Ming’s merchant entered in Hoedonggwan and the trade between two countries began. Joseon was relatively freer to enter Hoedonggwan than other tributary states and able to do other trades than Hoedonggwan commerce. Since the purpose of the public trade is to import the goods required by the state, the state did not mind even smuggling to secure the goods required for state operation such as military supplies. However, there was no intention to gain commercial profits through public trade. The major items in public trade were antlers for bow, medicines and books. Depending on the nature of the item, the methods to import were different. Private trade was not illegal itself. However, the government restricted the number of items that might be carried by the envoy. Thus, private trade was often conducted in an illegal form. Due to strict governmental regulation and distribution systems of both countries in the 15th century, it was limited to a small scale trade. However, the demand for private trade in civilians was gradually increasing.

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