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Goryo-Ming Relations (麗明關係) and Jang Jaon and Seolsa in the Late Period of King Gongmin’s Rule

KIM NANOK 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The late 14th century was a turbulent period during which the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty. This also led Goryo to inevitably change its foreign policy. In particular, Goryo-Ming relations (麗明關係) were formed during the late period of King Gongmin’s rule, and thus the missions of Jang Jaon and Seolsa were of great importance as the first envoys dispatched by each country during the two countries’ entry into friendly relations (通交). Goryo sent Jang Jaon to Ming in the 17th and 18th years of King Gongmin’s reign, which were similar times to when Ming sent Seolsa to Goryo. When King Gongmin was dethroned (廢位), Jang Jaon stayed in Yuan and secretly delivered the movements of Deokheunggun (德興君) to Goryo, who was invested as the king of Goryo. Moreover, as he returned to Goryo and reported on the restoration of King Gongmin, he gained greater trust from the king. Later, Jang Jaon was sent as an envoy to Koke-Temur (擴廓帖木兒) in Henan (河南), China, and built his experience as a diplomatic mission. His loyalty to King Gongmin and ability to obtain intelligence on China’s situations became an important background for becoming the first envoy to Ming. Though it is difficult to identify the specific activities that Jang Jaon performed as an envoy in Ming, he must have played a highly positive role in establishing the two countries’ diplomatic relations given the unprecedented warm welcome that he received from the Hongwu Emperor of Ming. Though Jang Jaon was underestimated as “a man on the street (市井人)” within Goryo, he was ideally qualified to establish diplomatic relations with Ming. As the first envoy sent from Ming to Goryo, Seolsa performed an important role in establishing the two countries’ diplomatic relations. In Goryo, officials of the family name “Seol” (偰氏), including Seol Son and Seol Jangsu, were playing active parts in politics with King Gongmin’s preferential treatment. In addition, Seolsa had served in government posts in Yuan and Zhang Shicheng’s kingdom of Wu (吳). Therefore, Seolsa had experiences and the ability to collect intelligence with which to accurately identify Northeast Asia’s circumstances, and he was particularly eligible to closely investigate the conditions of Goryo. While Goryo-Ming relations rapidly advanced with Seolsa’s diplomatic visit (使行) as a momentum, Goryo’s relations with the Northern Yuan were gradually severed. This may signify that Seolsa had fully served his role. Jang Jaon and Seolsa directly experienced changes in international circumstances across their national borders, and the latter part of King Gogmin’s reign was in need of “international figures” that were well-informed about the situations of China and the Korean Peninsula regardless of their national origin of Goryo or Ming. In addition, while the two countries’ “typical” relations were not yet established, both countries required envoys who could accurately identify changes in the overseas environment and actively react to them. In this context, Jang Jaon, “the man on the street” could be appointed in Goryo, and in Ming, Seolsa who had recently defected could be sent as an envoy to Goryo.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

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