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The Study on Characteristics of the Military Law[軍法] observed by the Hun’ryeon Dogam(訓鍊都監) office and the Futures of Executions by Decapitation(梟示刑) in the second half of Joseon period’s

Sim Jae-woo 1

1한국학중앙연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

What I examined in this article are the contents and nature of the Military Law observed and implemented by the Hun’ryeon Dogam office, in order to have a better understanding of how the office itself, which was the most characteristic Joseon military installation established in the second half of the Joseon dynasty period, having been operated. And to do that, this article attempted a more detailed look into Hun’guk Deung’rok, which was a compilation of operational documents generated by this office but for some reasons was not previously analyzed that much carefully. Also, certain relevant cases are presented here in this article. The general structure of the Joseon period Military Law reveals that the most prominent forms of punishment were either by decapitating one’s head and hanging it up(梟示刑), or flogging(棍杖刑). It was especially so in the latter half period, as dictated by military regulations. In the dynasty’s early half, the flogging stick(棍杖) was yet to be devised, and decapitation was not followed by hanging the person’s severed head up. But after the 1590s’ war with the Japanese, new practices were employed, hence the practice of ‘hanging the decapitated head,’ or ‘flogging a person.’ Examined next are military regulations observed inside Hun’ryeon Dogam, through punishments meant for deserters and rules used for capital execution. In case of deserters, first time offender was simply flogged, but multiple offenses were punished by decapitation, followed by the practice of hanging the head up, so we can see desertion was never tolerated. Instruction that were to be kept in mind, in case of using the flogging stick, was also carefully drafted so that the officers would refrain from using excessive force in implementing the flogging practice. To be examined lastly were the actual examples of decapitating someone and hanging the severed head up. Cases could be categorized into three groups: punishment of a soldier or officer who murdered a colleague or breached military discipline, punishment of a deserter, and punishment of the riot leaders who staged an insurrection in the Mushin/戊申 year. Murdering a colleague or staging an insurrection were met with the most deadliest punishments. On the other hand, during the reigns of kings Sukjong or Yeongjo, when the war was long past and peace was being maintained, deserters were treated with mild punishments comparatively other than decapitation with their heads to be hung up. In other words, they were flogged instead. We can see that the authorities were trying to implement law, not so strictly to the letter but rather flexibly according to circumstances.

Citation status

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