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An analysis of murder types and murderers in Sejong Age of Joseon

Park, Jinhoon 1

1명지대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

King Sejong himself used to review the murder case and make the final judgment on the murderer. The records related to the murderer reviewed by Sejong not only contain the basic details of the murder case, such as the name of the murderer and the relationship between the murderer and the victim, but also the detailed information related to murder types, such as Gusal(hit to kill) and Mosal(planned murder), so that the motive, intention, and method of the murder can be known. King Sejong’s The murder acts in Sejong Age can be roughly classified into 3 types. First, the murder was classified according to the intentionality such as Mosal(planned murder), Gosal(intentional murder) and Osal(murder by mistake), Heesal(mischievous murder). Second, it was classified according to the method of murder such as Gusal(hit to kill), Tasal(beat to kill), Chuksal(kick to kill), Doksal(poison to kill), Gyosal(choke to kill), burn to kill and curse to kill. Third, it was classified according to its motive such as Tusal(killing while fighting), Tugusal(killing by hit while fighting), robbery or theft murder, and jealousy murder. As such, the murders in Sejong Age were classified and examined according to three criteria: intentionality, method of murder, and motive for murder. In other words, the murder cases were not examined according to the same uniform standards, but diverse standards. A total of 562 murders were examined during the 32 years of King Sejong’s reign. Among them, the cases of 401 murderers were specified in detail, of which 125 were planned murderers; 110 were hit or beat murderers; 40 were murderers while fighting. The murder by plan accounted for approximately 31.2% of the murders for which specific details were available; hit or beat murder accounted for approximately 27.4%; and fight murder and fight-hit murder accounted for approximately 10%. In cases of planned murder, intentional murder, hit murder, and beat murder, the relationship between the murderer and the victim could be analyzed. Among the 28 planned murderers who killed their husbands, the majority had a secret lover, and all of the secret lovers participated in the murder of their mistress’s husband. The second most cases were the murders where a slave or high-rank official killed the master or the master’s relatives. The third type was to kill a family member or relative. In the case of planned murder, relatively weak persons conspired together to overcome their inferiority and commit the planned murder. The intentional murder mainly occurred in kinship relationships. Unlike the planned murder, the persons of the higher position in the kinship relationship committed the murder using their superior power. In the case of hit and beat murders, husbands used to beat their wives to death, and the murder also often occurred between relatives. Hit and beat murders happened between various relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity, and the main cause of conflict was economic issues. In addition, there were many cases where slaves beat to kill their masters or master’s relatives. In other words, the majority of hit or beat murders occurred among family members or relatives, and then within the social relationship between masters and slaves.

Citation status

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