Essay on Difference Behavior From Ming to Barbarian and Choson

Published: 2021-08-15
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Wesleyan University
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Ming dynasty was a significant power in the pre-modern East Asian and had a distinct approach towards the barbarians and Choson. The barbarians were the people who had a distinct culture from that of the Ming. The Ming perceived themselves to have cultural superiority compared to the barbarians and Choson. However, the barbarians and the people from Choson could become the people of Ming by adopting the cultural practices of the Ming people (Meng, 2015). During the Zhou period, the shared cultural values in the Ming kingdom was the basis of contrast to other foreign tribes who were conceived as barbarians by the people of Ming due to their shared values and cultural practices. Choson and other neighboring countries were viewed as barbarians despite the significant racial similarity between the people of Ming and their neighbors (Yuan-Kang, 2012). The nomadic people in the northern parts of Ming were referred to as barbarians due to their way of living and attacks on the central plain of Ming to steal food supplies from the people in Ming villages who had started to build sedentary houses and cities and also practiced agriculture (Meng, 2015).

In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang branded the Mongols as barbarians due to their lack of respect to Chinese thrones as well as a string of atrocities such as rape and village massacres. The Ming dynasties committed atrocities against the internal tribes that rebelled. For instance, during the Miao rebellions the Ming dynasty forces ruthlessly subdued the Miao people as well as other native ethnic groups in southern China. On the other hand, Choson had significantly adopted Ming writings and other cultural understandings because of the Ming support to ward off barbarians and protect Choson boundaries. When the Ming dynasty was invaded and occupied by the Manchus the people of Choson referred the invaders as the barbarians in secret, and they were afraid of invasion themselves (Roux, 2012).

Border security about the Tributary System between Ming and Choson

The tributary system had a significant negative impact on border security despite its primary aim of providing security and support for the Choson in the face of invasion. The tributary system ensured that as long as the people of Choson remains subject to the Ming dynasty, the Ming dynasty was going to protect the people of Choson from the Japanese invaders. In 1592 and 1597 Japan was united by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and invaded Korea with the aim of conquering China because Choson was in the middle between China Ming dynasty and Japan. As a result, the Ming came to the aid of Choson and due to Choson indebtedness to the Ming dynasty some Choson had to contribute a certain number of men to Ming to strengthen its forces (Larsen, 2013).

The tributary system came to be hated by the people of Choson especially the poor servants whose husbands and sons were to be given to Ming to offer border security. The tension with Choson escalated by the fact that Choson was left vulnerable itself to the Japanese pirates who attacked the mainland from time to time (Zhang & Buzan, 2012). The people of Choson came to view the tributary system as only beneficial to the Ming dynasty which led to Choson seclusion and restricting interaction with Japan and Ming limiting its interactions to few tributaries a year with the aim of strengthening its border security to secure its people (Song, 2012).


Larsen, K. W. (2013). Comforting fictions: The tribute system, the Westphalian order, and Sino-Korean relations. Journal of East Asian Studies, 13(2), 233-257.

Meng, W. (2015). Was There a Consistent Strategy in Ancient China Toward Threats?.


Song, N. (2012). Tributaryfrom a Multilateral and Multilayered Perspective. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5(2), 155-182.

Yuan-Kang, W. (2012). Managing regional hegemony in historical Asia: the case of early Ming China. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5(2), 129-153.

Zhang, Y., & Buzan, B. (2012). The tributary system as the international society in theory and practice. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5(1), 3-36.

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