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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 15(1); 2010 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2010;15(1): 65-92.
Social Background of a Visionary Rebellion and the Image of an Ideal Society : A Review of the Yi Ch’unggyŏng Incident during the 7th year of King Injo (1629)
Woo-cheol Kim
Associate Professor, Hanzhong University
한중대학교 부교수
Yi Ch'unggyŏng's Rebellion of 1629 (7th year of King Injo), was an incident that saw people displaced by the First Manchu Invasion of 1627 (Chŏngmyo horan) attempt to overthrow the existing government. The majority of the participants in this attempted uprising were from the lower classes. As the group involved only a score of people, and they were all arrested before their plot could be actualized, it did not garner any attention at the national level. It was even evaluated as a ‘silly game involving some overgrown children.’ However, leaving aside the success or failure of the incident, much can be gained from delving into the participants’ social background, how they got to the point where they raised a resistance, and their wishes for an ideal society. This incident was hatched in the provinces of P’yŏngan and Hwanghae, both of which had suffered greatly as a result of the First Manchu Invasion of 1627. Most of those who followed Yi had lost their families and found themselves displaced by the war. These individuals perceived the proposed coup as a means to secure a livelihood. On the other hand, they also harbored a strong sense of hostility toward Later Chin. The growing emphasis on the worship of Ch’oe Yŏng and Nam Yi, two generals who had opposed the Chosŏn dynasty, signified that Yi’s group had been transformed from a band of thieves into one that plotted rebellion. However, despite this change in character, every member of the group's support for Yi remained unwavering. The group’s ringleader Yi Ch'unggyŏng gave form to the ideal society that he envisioned in a document called the 〈Kaeguk taejŏn〉. The ideal society was one in which public equality was to be achieved by reigning in abuses in the military service and tax structures and removing privileges. It was a society in which the state’s illegal exploitation of the people was to be brought to a halt. Their pure wishes for an end to the conflicts that pervaded Chosŏn dynasty were ignored by the powers that be, and their uprising was evaluated as a ‘useless farce initiated by a few woodsmen’ or as a 'silly game involving some overgrown children.' As such, the inherent conflicts at the center of this incident were not resolved and a tinderbox that could be lit at another time was left behind to fester.
Keywords: Yi Ch'unggyŏng, King Injo, rebellion, displaced people, Kaeguk taejŏn, An Iksin, First Manchu Invasion of 1627 (Chŏngmyo horan), ch'uno (tracking slaves)

인조 7년(1629) 이충경의 반역 사건은 정묘호란을 계기로 발생한 유민들을 끌어들여 반역을 꾀하다가 적발되어 실패한 사건이었다. 참여 계층이 주로 하층민에 집중되어 있었고 규모도 수십 명에 불과하였으며 실제로 행동에 옮기기 전에 모두 체포되었으므로 크게 주목되지 못했으며, 따라서 ‘실없는 농담’이나 ‘아이들의 장난’이라고 평가되기도 했다. 그러나 이들이 집단을 이루어 저항에 이르게 된 사회적 배경이나, 이들이 추구하고자 했던 이상 사회에 대한 염원은, 그 성공 여부와 별도로 음미할 가치가 있는 것으로 판단된다. 이 사건은 정묘호란이 발발한 지 2년 뒤에 호란으로 큰 피해를 입었던 평안도ㆍ황해도 지역을 중심으로 발생하였다. 전쟁으로 가족을 잃고 떠돌던 유민들은 생계를 유지하기 위한 방편으로 집단에 가담하지만, 한편으로는 후금에 대한 적대 의식도 가담의 배경으로 작용했다. 최영이나 남이와 같이 조선왕조를 부정하는 상징적 인물이 강조되면서 이 집단은 단순한 생계형 도적 집단이 아닌 반역 집단으로 전화하지만, 가담자들은 동요하지 않고 행동을 함께 하였다. 이 사건의 주모자인 이충경은 「개국대전」이라는 문서를 통해, 자신이 추구하는 이상사회의 모습을 소박한 형태로 구현하였다. 그 사회는 군역이나 조세 부담을 누구나 고르게 지며 특권을 부인하는 평등한 사회였다. 또 국가기구의 민인에 대한 붑법적 침해나 착취를 금지하는 정의로운 사회였다. 조선왕조가 지니고 있었던 모순을 진솔하게 표현한 이러한 바람은 ‘실없는 농담’이나 ‘아이들의 장난’이라고 평가되며 무시되었고, 따라서 모순은 해결되지 않았으며, 결국 또 다른 새로운 저항으로 전화될 수 있는 소지를 남겨 놓았다.
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