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In Session: States and Fugitives: Justice and Diplomacy Across Boundaries, 1600s-1900s
1: Crossing the Yalu for Freedom: Jin Fugitives in Chosŏn Korea, 1619-1637
Friday, March 26, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
University of St. Thomas, United States
This paper approaches the relationship between the Jurchen Jin and Chosŏn states between 1619 and 1637 from the perspective of the fugitives fleeing from Jin to Chosŏn. Previous studies have often limited their consideration to these people’s roles as a source of conflict between the two states instead of analyzing the fugitives’ motives and movements in their own right. By using a variety of sources such as the Old Manchu Chronicles, Chosŏn Veritable Records, and Jin archival records of fugitives, I will show the importance of Chosŏn as a safe harbor for Jin fugitives. The first part of the paper will outline the emergence of a Jin-centered fugitive repatriation regime in 1620s Manchuria by analyzing the oaths of alliance between the Jurchens and various Mongol tribes, which always included the provision of mutual repatriation of fugitives. The second part of the paper will focus on the emergence of Chosŏn as a safe harbor for the fugitives between 1619 and 1636. The lack of a formal relationship between Jin and Chosŏn until 1627, Chosŏn’s status as an unreliable Jin ally between 1627 and 1636, and the presence of a Ming colony on the islands off the coast of northern Korea meant that the fugitives crossing the Yalu River were unlikely to be repatriated. The paper will conclude with the devastating impact on the fugitives of the events of 1637, which saw the new Qing state incorporating Chosŏn as its first tributary state and conquering the Ming maritime colony.