Sadaejuui - Overview

Overview

Sadaejuui conflates an attitude of subservience with the political realism which accompanies the prudent recognition of greater power. Sadae describes a foreign policy characterized by the various ways a small country acknowledges the strength of a greater power like that of China. Sadae is made manifest in the actions of the weaker state as it conveys goodwill and respect through its envoys.

The utility of the sadae concept in Korea was recognized from the period of Three Kingdoms of Korea to 1897; and it is demonstrated in the relationship of mid-Joseon Korea towards the Ming Dynasty of China. The Joseon kingdom made every effort to maintain a friendly relationship with Beijing for reasons having to do with both realpolitik and an idealized Confucian worldview in which China is perceived as the center of a Confucian moral universe.

The kingdom of Joseon accepted its place in a Sino-centristic world order. The Joseon foreign policy was organized around maintaining stable Joseon-Chinese relations in the period from 1392 through 1910. It contrasts with limited trade relationships or kyorin diplomacy (교린정책; lit. "neighborly relations") in regard to Joseon-Japanese relations in this period.

The concept of sadaejuui was central in the writings of polemicist Shin Chaeho. His ideas and voice became prominent features of Korean nationalism. Sin is known for having argued that the sadaejuui inherent in Confucian historiography served

  • to devalue the ethnic origins of the Korean people and state
  • to subjugate Korean history within a Confucian interpretive framework

His revisionist writings sought to deny the relevance of sadae as an important element of Korean history.

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