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A study on the foreign relations between Old Joseon and Qin

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2018, (129), pp.197-236
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History
  • Received : February 20, 2018
  • Accepted : March 5, 2018
  • Published : March 30, 2018

WonChin Cho 1

1세종대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article examined the foreign relations between Old Joseon and Qin (秦), focusing on the relations between the two nation, reasons behind the war, and changes in boundary. Old Joseon (古朝鮮=王儉朝鮮) during King Fou’s generation starts its full-scale relations with Qin as Qin unifies China in 221 BC. After unification, Qin crosses Beishui (沛水) and attacks Old Joseon, installing ‘遼東外徼’ (outer Liaodong fortification of Qin). Beishui (沛水), which appears as 西界 (west boundary) of pre-war Old Joseon, is understood as the present-day 渾河 (Hun River), the same river as Beishui (浿水) which became the boundary between Old Joseon and Han later on. Old Joseon, due to the invasion of Yan’s Qin Kai (秦開) in early 3rd century BC, retreated to the east of the Qianshan mountain range, but it shows a possibility of recovering the territory on the east side of the Beishui (浿水) during the collapse of Yan. The reasons for Qin’s invasion of Old Joseon are assumed to be twofold: first, to reclaim the Liaodong region which was Yan’s territory during its glory days; and second, because the wandering people who had lost their state to Qin sought asylum in the Joseon area. Bronze daggers and spears related with Qin were excavated from the area from Liaodong to northwestern Korea. These seem to be the traces of the war between Old Joseon and Qin and brought by the wandering people. In particular, the fact that relics concerned with Zhao (趙) are excavated near the Yalu River seems related with Zhao’s collapse. Following the war, the boundary between Old Joseon and Qin is understood as the Qianshan mountain range considering the circumstances. The outer Liaodong fortification installed by Qin was located in the area from the Hun River to Tian Shan. The Liaodong Commandery seems to have been systematically installed by Qin, at last. There is no resource with the information about the Liaodong Commandery’s specific scope or the number of troops. However, considering the circumstances, it is possible that the Liaodong Commandery installed by Qin was 15 troops in the western part of the Qianshan mountain range. After Qin’s invasion, King Fou of Old Joseon promised to subjugate; however, he eventually did not agree to visit. This shows that Old Joseon’s subjugation was temporary or superficial. The promise King Fou of Old Joseon made to Qin was a means to uphold a diplomatic cause to stop the war and to maintain its appearance as an independent state. Old Joseon seems to have temporarily stopped using the royal title externally; however, the royal title was continued to be used internally and Old Joseon maintained its status as an independent state. Old Joseon carries out diplomatic activities flexibly according to the international situation; as Qin becomes chaotic with the death of Qinshihuang, Old Joseon immediately counterattacks to reclaim its lost territory.

Citation status

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