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Karlsson, Anders (2013) 'Law and the Body in Joseon Korea: Statecraft and the Negotiation of Ideology.' The Review of Korean Studies, 16 (1). pp. 7-45.

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Once considered almost exclusively to be the domain of legal scholars, Joseon dynasty criminal law is recently attracting increasing attention from social, political and intellectual historians of Korea. Despite often reaching opposing conclusions on the characteristics of Joseon legal culture, historians and legal scholars share a strong focus on the dominating role of Confucian ideology. While acknowledging the importance of Confucianism for Joseon statecraft, this paper argues that in actual statecraft and the application of the law, this ideology was negotiated with the perceived needs of the state. The focus of analysis is the relationship between the judicial process—investigation, interrogation and punishment—and cosmological, ideological and cultural notions related to the body. The purpose is to show the tension between the state need to maintain the system and uphold social order (as defined by the state) and the need for the state itself to adhere to the basic principles of the ideology that underpinned this system. Addressing the role of law and punishment in statecraft, the analysis is based on a theoretical framework that combines a conflict-based understanding of society with one that is consensus-based. While on the one hand the violation of notions related to the body was the purport of punishment when dealing with the most severe crimes against the state and its ideology, we can also see how such notions influenced the discourses on penal benevolence, torture and exhumation, whilst partly constituting the reason why some forms of torture were prohibited.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
ISSN: 12290076
Copyright Statement: ©2013 NRF
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 07:41
Funders: Other

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