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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 17(1); 2012 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2012;17(1): 29-65.
The Outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War and the Issue of Suzerain-Vassal as Viewed from the Standpoint of Chosŏn
Mori Mayuko
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Department of Area Studies, The University of Tokyo
모리 마유코
도쿄대학 총합문화연구과 지역문화연구전공 박사과정
ABSTRACT
The Sino-Japanese War was a watershed incident in the history of modern East Asia. Two different orders coexisted in East Asia prior to the Sino-Japanese War. One was the Sinocentric order centering on the Qing dynasty and the other was the treaty-based order rooted in international law. However, the former collapsed after the Sino-Japanese War and was in effect amalgamated into the latter. In this regard, attention should be focused on how the suzerain-vassal relationship between Chosŏn (Joseon) and Qing, which collapsed as a result of the Sino-Japanese War, was discussed during the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. This study analyzes this issue from the standpoint of Chosŏn. The present study focuses only on events within Chosŏn. To be more specific, the present study focuses on the Japanese Legation in Chosŏn and the Chosŏn government. Although the Convention of Tianjin reached in 1885 outwardly expressed the equality of Qing and Japan, Japan experienced a slight lowering of its status. Meanwhile Qing saw its international status within East Asia heightened after 1885. Buoyed by its enhanced standing, Qing proceeded to strengthen its interference in the internal affairs of Chosŏn. Chosŏn responded to this by implementing a foreign policy that was based on the notion of its independence in its capacity as an independent vassal state. For its part, Japan refused to accept the suzerain-vassal relationship between Qing and Chosŏn. However, as its priority was to amend the unequal treaty with Great Britain, it did not want to create a conflict with Qing by openly questioning the suzerain-vassal relationship. As such, Japan could not overtly put an end to the talk about independence that was taking place within Chosŏn. The international order in East Asia after 1885 was one in which a balance was maintained through the interaction of factors such as Qing-Chosŏn relations that were based on the independence of the vassal state, the superficially equal Qing-Japan relations stipulated by the Convention of Tianjin of 1885, and Chosŏn-Japan relations that resulted in the delaying of the independence of Chosŏn, prior to the Sino-Japanese War. However, the assassination of Kim Okkyun and the dispatch of the Qing army to Chosŏn to suppress the Tonghak (Donghak) Peasant Uprising in 1894 had the effect of spurring the Japanese government to lean toward war. Weary of the Western powers, the Japanese government avoided mentioning the suzerainvassal issue during the process that led up to the outbreak of the war, and instead highlighted the fact that its focus was on internal reform within Chosŏn. Meanwhile, the Japanese Legation in Chosŏn sought to induce war by raising the suzerain-vassal issue and highlighting the independence of Chosŏn. However, the disruption of their communication networks ensured that the Japanese government and Japanese Legation could not air out the differences in their respective positions. Eventually, the Japanese Legation fired the proverbial shot that led to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War by proceeding to use the discretionary rights it had been granted by the Japanese government as its cover to occupy the royal palace. This study also analyzes the Chosŏn government’s responses during the same period. The Sino-Japanese War was set off by the Chosŏn government’s request that, in accordance with the suzerain-vassal relationship that existed between the two, Qing dispatch troops in order to quell the Tonghak Peasant Uprising. In accordance with the tenets of the Convention of Tianjin, Japan responded to Qing’s dispatch of troops to Chosŏn by sending in its own troops. The two armies continued to be stationed in Chosŏn even after the Tonghak Peasant Uprising had been suppressed. Desiring to induce the support of Qing based on the suzerainvassal relationship, the Chosŏn government opened a line of communication that ran from the Governor of P yŏngan (Pyeongyang) province to the Ambassador to Qing and the Tianjin Customs (and Li Hongzhang). At the same time, based on the articles pertaining to intervention found in the treaties it had signed with the Western powers, the Chosŏn government implored the representatives of both countries to withdraw their troops from Chosŏn. But, the Chosŏn government's attempts failed to prevent the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. However, the Chosŏn government’s desire to maintain the dual international order composed of suzerain-vassal relations and the treaty-based system right shortly before the outbreak of the war implies that Chosŏn’s foreign policy cannot be understood solely from the standpoint of the modernization of diplomacy.
Keywords: Sino-Japanese War, suzerain-vassal relations, treaty-based system, Chosŏn government, Japanese government, Japanese Legation in Chosŏn

국문초록
청일전쟁은 동아시아 근대사의 분수령이 된 사건이다. 청일전쟁 이전의 동아시아에는 청조를 중심으로 한 중화질서와 국제법을 기반으로 한 조약체제의 두 가지 질서가 공존했는데, 전쟁 이후에는 전자가 붕괴되고 후자로 일원화되었던 것이다. 따라서 청일전쟁의 결과 무너진 朝鮮과 淸朝의 宗屬關係가 개전 과정에서 어떻게 논의되었는지를 밝히는 것은 중요하다. 본고는 이 문제를 조선에 주목하여 분석한 논문이다. 여기서 조선이라 함은 지리적인 관점을 의미하여 구체적으로는 駐朝鮮 日本公使館과 조선정부에 초점을 맞추었다. 1885년의 天律條約에서는 표면적으로는 청과 일본의 평등성이 표명되었지만, 1885년 이후의 동아시아 정세에서 청조가 국제적인 지위를 높여갔던 반면에 일본의 지위는 상대적으로 낮아졌다. 청조는 이러한 국제관계를 배경으로 조선에 대한 간섭을 강화하였는데, 이에 대해 조선은 ‘屬國自主’의 ‘自主’를 바탕으로 대외정책을 전개하였다. 일본은 朝淸의 종속관계를 인정하지 않았지만 영국과의 불평등조약 개정을 우선하였기 때문에 종속문제를 거론함으로써 유발되는 청조와의 대립을 원하지 않았고, 따라서 조선독립에 대한 논의도 끝낼 수 없었다. 이에 1885년 이후의 동아시아 국제질서는 ‘屬國自主’가 括抗하는 朝淸關係와 天律條約에 의해 표면상 대등한 淸日關係, 그리고 독립론을 보류한 朝日關係가 뒤섞여 균형을 이룬 채 청일전쟁 전까지 유지되었다. 그러나 1894년에 김옥균 암살과 동학농민운동에 대한 청조의 출병이 이어지면서 일본정부는 점차 청일개전으로 기울어졌다. 다만 일본정부는 구미열강의 눈을 의식하여 개전 과정에서 종속문제를 거론하는 것을 기피하고, 대신에 조선내정개혁을 그 명분으로 삼았다. 한편 駐朝鮮 日本公使館은 조선의 독립을 명확하게 하기 위해 종속문제를 거론함으로써 개전으로 유도해가고자 하였다. 그러나 일본정부와 공사관은 통신망의 불통으로 이러한 입장 차이에 대해 충분히 상의할 수 없었다. 결국 공사관이 정부에서 부여된 재량권을 바탕으로 왕궁점거를 단행하여 청일 개전의 단서를 열었다. 다음으로 같은 시기의 조선정부의 대응을 살펴보았다. 청일전쟁의 원인은 조선정부가 동학농민운동에 대해 종속관계에 기탁하여 청조에 원병을 요청한 데에 있다. 청병의 출병으로 인해 天津조약에 따라 일본군도 조선에 출병하였고, 동학농민운동이 수습된 후에도 청일 양군은 그대로 조선에 주둔하였다. 이에 대해 조선정부는 일본군을 철병시키고자 종속관계에 의거하여 ‘平安道監司-駐津督理-天律海關道(-李鴻章)’라는 정보 전달 라인을 가동하고 청조의 원조를 이끌어내고자 하였다. 동시에 조선정부는 구미열강과 체결한 조약 중의 居中調整 조문을 활용하여 駐朝鮮 각국 대표에게 청일 양군의 철병을 조정해줄 것을 요청하였다. 조선정부의 이러한 시도는 청일 개전을 막는 데에 큰 영향을 미치지 못했다. 하지만 개전 직전에 조선정부가 종속관계와 조약체제의 두 가지 질서를 유지하고자 한 것은 조선의 대외정책을 외교의 근대화라는 근대성만으로는 이해할 수 없을 것임을 시사한다.
주제어: 청일전쟁, 종속관계, 조약체제, 조선정부, 일본정부, 駐朝鮮 日本公使館
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