Item ID: 9632 Ŏje p’yoch’ung yunŭm [or] Oeje pyochung yuneum 御製表忠綸音 [Royally Commissioned Silk Ribbon Sounds on the Expression of Loyalty]. King of Korea CHŎNGJO 正祖, or JEONGJO.

Commemorating the Defeat of a Rebellion

Ŏje p’yoch’ung yunŭm [or] Oeje pyochung yuneum 御製表忠綸音 [Royally Commissioned Silk Ribbon Sounds on the Expression of Loyalty].

Printed with metal movable type. 24 folding leaves. Small folio (345 x 221 mm.), orig. semi-stiff wrappers (wrappers somewhat soiled), later stitching. [Korea]: 1788.

First edition of this rare royal proclamation issued on the 60-year anniversary of the Musin rebellion. “This rebellion arrived on the 15th day of the third month of 1728, when several hundred rebels seized control of the provincial county seat of Ch’ŏngju, over a hundred kilometers to the southeast of the capital” of Seoul. One political faction was targeting another and hoped to place a royal relative on the throne who would be more positively disposed toward them. “Faction members had raised an army, seized territory, and were engaging in armed conflict. Over the next few days, the rebels spread their control to twelve other county seats in northern and southern Ch’ungch’ŏng, and to southern Kyŏngsang and Kyŏnggi Provinces, where popular local support considerably augmented rebel armies. While the loss of provincial territory was devastating to the court, more worrying was the revelation that rebel supporters were occupying senior court positions that put them in close contact with the king.” Yet the rebels were uncoordinated, and forces loyal to King Yŏngjo (or Yeongjo, 1694-1776) were able to suppress the uprising in 17 days (Jackson, The 1728 Musin Rebellion, 2).

Yŏngjo’s son, King Chŏngjo of Chosŏn (1752-1800), published our book when one sexagenary cycle had passed since the rebellion to oust his father. The phrase yunŭm, “silk ribbon sounds,” in the title refers to the words of the monarch (see Couvreur, Li ki, Vol. 2, 518). Chŏngjo writes: “This month, this year are the year and month in which our late great king raised arms and suppressed the rebellion. The events of that time still chill my heart.” King Chŏngjo was a somewhat enlightened monarch, supporting scholars and scholarship and sponsoring numerous editorial projects at court.

In publishing this book, the king drew on the Confucian discourse of loyalty. The book was bestowed on the families of individuals who had acted on the side of the throne during the Musin rebellion. An inscription on the inside front cover says that our book was bestowed on the descendants of Military Commissioner Min Che-jang (or Jejang) 閔濟章 (1671-1729), in May or early June 1788 (Qianlong 53/4). Min had earlier helped to suppress the rebellion.

The first printed leaf has the large seal kyujang chi po 奎章之寶, used in the period on royally commissioned works or books bestowed on subjects by the king. The book contains a sacrificial oration and poetry by the king. There is a colophon by Yi Chae-hyŏp 李在協 (1731-90).

Our copy conforms to the description of the copy held at Columbia University library, which is said to have been printed using the so-called chŏng’yu cha 丁酉字 set of metal movable type cast in 1777 (the chŏng’yu year), when Chŏngjo ascended the throne (Hanguk haeoe chŏnjŏk munhwajae chosa mongnok: Miguk Columbia sojang Han’gukpon mongnok, 37; see also WorldCat 35725134).

A few minor stains but a very nice copy of a rare book; WorldCat lists only the Columbia copy.

References

Couvreur, Séraphin. Li ki: Ou, mémoires sur les bienséances et les cérémonies. Ho Kien Fou: Imprimerie de la Mission catholique, 1913.

Hanguk haeoe chŏnjŏk munhwajae chosa mongnok: Miguk Columbia sojang Han’gukpon mongnok 海外典藉文化財調查目錄: 美國Columbia大學東亞圖書館所藏韓國本目錄. Seoul: Han’guk sŏji kakhoe, 1994.

Jackson, Andrew David. The 1728 Musin Rebellion: Politics and Plotting in Eighteenth-Century Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016.

Price: $6,000.00

Item ID: 9632