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Ruling Ideology and Marginal Subjects: Ming Loyalism and Foreign Lineages in Late Chosŏn Korea

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Abstract Numerous Ming Chinese took refuge in Chosŏn Korea during the early seventeenth century. Despite the supposed sinocentrism of Chosŏ’s elites, refugees from China were treated as belonging to the category of submitting-foreigner (hyanghwain), a protected but distinctly humble social status that had been used primarily as a tool for settling Japanese and Jurchen from Chosŏn’s frontiers. Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, however, the Chosŏn court considered it incongruous to include Ming Chinese descendants in that category. Chinese lineages were thus distinguished from other submitting-foreigners and reclassified according to the considerably more prestigious category of imperial subjects. This paper explores this change, seeing it as part of a trend in the Qing Empire and indeed in Eurasia as a whole in which identity and subjecthood became increasingly bureaucratized, and loyalties treated as absolute.

Affiliations: 1: Korea University


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