Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

2022

Abstract

This thesis studies how the piroin, or enslaved Koreans, during the Great East Asian War (1592-1598) remembered and understood their experiences of captivity. It further explores how these findings help us understand Korean society during the late-16th and early 17th centuries as it underwent rapid social change in the aftermath of the devastating war. This is accomplished by exploring the various writings that emerged in the postwar period regarding experiences of the war as well as captivity, and comparing the various normative language and rhetoric within them. A close reading of the Korean royal court’s interpretation of Neo-Confucianism was compared with experiences of the piroin from both elite and popular perspectives. This thesis adds a new understanding of the Great East Asian War by bringing to light the varied social responses to it, and how these stories of captivity fit into the larger landscape of diverse opinions and perspectives within a dynamic postbellum Korea.

Keywords

war captives, war slaves, Korea, Japan, China, Joseon Korea, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Imjin War, Neo-Confucianism, popular war experiences

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Date Posted:29 March 2022