- Korean War Prisoner Trade after the Second Invasion of the Ch‘ing Army into Korea
In 1637 (the fifteenth year of In-jo 仁祖), after being defeated by Ch’ing China, Korea became a Chinese tributary state. As one of the conditions of surrender, China issued an order that Koreans who wanted to redeem their captured relatives, who had been taken away to China as prisoners of war, should transact the trade at Shên-yang 瀋陽, the then capital of Ch’ing China, under the control of both countries concerned by paying the price asked by their Chinese owners. There were two types of redemption of captured Koreans: one in which the expenses for buying prisoners of war were paid by the national treasury, kung-shu 公贖, and another in which the expenses were borne by private persons, ssŭ-shu 私贖.Just after the surrender, to transact the trade of Korean captives with China, the Korean government dispatched government officials to Shên-yang, and private persons who wanted to redeem their captured relatives by themselves accompanied the officials. A huge number of Korean captives were gathered at Shên-yang and a market to transact the trade was organized. The Korean government resorted to every possible means to help the captives by lending money to private redeemers, by buying back poor captives who did not have any relatives to redeem them, and so on. These arrangements, however, eventually failed because of a sharp rise in the price of captives.The trade in prisoners of war in its later stages, which is the main topic of this article, was handled at the Shên-yang kuan-so 瀋陽館所, which was the residential place of the two Korean royal princes and their families who were taken to China as hostages as well as their retinue. The Shên-yang kuan-so also functioned as the Korean embassy in China. The following four characteristics are evident in the war prisoner trade at this stage: 1. The Korean side gradually stopped providing money to buy back poor Korean captives due to a reduction in the availability of funds from the national treasury. 2. The redeemed Korean captives were not released but retained by the government and put to work as officials and labourers. 3. Chinese notables who owned Korean captives forced the Korean government to buy back them.4. The Shên-yang kuan-so forced the Korean government to pay money for run-away prisoners and to compensate them for any money owing on other redemption transactions demanded by the Chinese government.These characteristics clearly reveal the Korean government’s change of attitudes towards the captives. At that time due to the sharp rise in the price of captives and the limitations added to the Koreans’ entering to Shên-yang, it was almost impossible for them to redeem their captured relatives through due formalities. As a result, they often violated the regulations so as to help their relatives, causing many bad effects on the relations between China and Korea.As it is seen, the redemption of prisoners of war became more and more difficult for the Koreans, and finally in 1644 (the twenty-second year of In-jo), after the southward move of the Chinese capital from Shên-yang to Peking, it was abandoned. The issue of Korean war prisoner trade, nevertheless, had a severely harmful effect on Korean politics, society, and economics at that time and after.
- 東洋学報 = The Toyo Gakuho
東洋学報 = The Toyo Gakuho 65 (1・2), 27-62, 1984-01