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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Whose Law to Apply?: Kwon I-jin’s Official Report of a 1707 Waegwan Legal Dispute

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.2, pp.126-149
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.2.126

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Abstract

What was the actual status and sovereignty of the Tsushima state under its “ritual subjection” and what seems an “(almost) tributary relationship” to Joseon? What were the implications of Joseon being unable to apply its own criminal code on its vassals, that is, Tsushima residents in the waegwan? This article examines the dispute over judicial sovereignty between Joseon and the Tsushima state—something insufficiently explained by the conventional Joseon-Tokugawa Japan neighborly relations model—by focusing on the illegal prostitution issue that regularly provoked political feuds between the two countries. This article uses the report of the incident of Magistrate Kwon I-jin to focus on the issue of disparities in sentencing for the same crime between Joseon and the Tsushima state. This case exemplifies the complex relations between a suzerain and its vassal and an analysis of it promises a better understanding of the realities of international relationships in traditional East Asia.

keywords
waegwan (Japanese enclave) serving the great and neighborly relations (sadae and gyorin) double subjection illegal prostitution issue suzerain state

Korea Journal