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1811 Envoy to Qing China and the Perception of Foreign World of Lee Jeong - soo

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2016, (123), pp.133-175
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Lee, Myung-jae 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

After the Ming-Qing transition, Chosun’s intellects made efforts to elevate Chosun as the only successor of Chinese civilization. Their efforts were made in a way to acquire the status of being China in racial, geographical, and cultural aspects, and among them, the utmost effort was made culturally. Meanwhile, they also discussed how to deem Qing continuously. Although the matter of internalizing Chinese culture proceeded rather smoothly, their awareness of Qing differed further. In other words, as the reign of Qing became stabilized, the way of deeming Qing between ideology and reality began to be divided. In Seoul during the beginning of the 19th century when Lee Jeong-soo (李鼎受: 1783~1834) worked actively, a variety of ideas conflicted. Even though Bukhak School insisting the acceptance of Qing’s civilization in the late 18th century was still influential, new ideas were suppressed through Sinyusaok (辛酉邪獄) or such and the powerful centered around the families of maternal relatives were obtaining the political lead. Lee Jeong-soo accepted diverse opinions from Chosun intellects in the 18th century and presented his own unique view to Qing. First of all, he emphasized Chosun’s history and cultural tradition, and then, he tried setting boundary from Qing which was sharing territory with Gochosun geographically. Through this, Qing was assigned with its identity as ‘ijeok’. Qing’s status as ijeok was once again verified by Osamgyeron. Lee Jeong-soo did severely criticize the affirmation of Osamgye practiced by Song Siyeol and Kim Changeop and some of the Bukhak School members and reconsideration on understanding of Qing. However, Lee Jeong-soo’s understanding of world order was not very different from the traditional viewpoint. Lee Jeong-soo did stress the relations of jogong․installation towards China and foreign empires according to the tradition of political affairs to China in Oegukjobingjo. Also, Lee Jeong-soo revealed his severe hostility against the West. Insisting that Western sciences are the teachings of birds and beasts, he developed Seoyanggeumsuron (西洋禽獸論). In brief, Lee Jeong-soo’s awareness of foreign countries was still significantly grounded on the traditional structure of China and igeok, and when this is extended to the scope of the world, it is converted to the new criteria of Confucianism (儒學), Seohak (西學), and anti-Confucianism (反儒學). This can be understood as the result of Lee Jeong-soo’s cultural Hwaigwan closely associated with the political and social situations of the early 19th century and becoming extended.

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.