Histories in stone: Stelae commemorating the suppression of the Musin rebellion and contested factional histories

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The 1728 Musin Rebellion was a failed attempt by factional members to overthrow militarily King Yǒngjo's government. Between 1736 and 1837, six stelae, dedicated to loyal subjects who resisted the rebels, were erected in three different provinces. These stelae contain historical descriptions of the rebellion, its suppression, and the political aftermath. Previous research centred on one stele, represented as evidence of worsening discrimination against Kyǒngsang province elites. This article considers the six stelae in relation to the wider political context of 1728-1837 and analyses consistencies in the text, political connections, location, and the target audience. The stelae reveal complex political struggles in post-rebellion Chosǒn, including a struggle for court recognition by loyalists in areas of rebel strength. Most significantly, the stelae reveal a struggle amongst the victors of the rebellion. The authors attempted to set the record straight over the loyalty of their officials - especially those who had been involved in some form of controversy during the Musin Rebellion - thereby proving their loyalty to Yǒngjo and their right to administer government. To show they were trustworthy court officials, moderate Disciple's faction supporters were also distancing themselves from Disciple's faction extremists that had led the Musin Rebellion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-75
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Asian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chosǒn
  • factionalism
  • Musin Rebellion
  • stele
  • Yi Injwa's Rebellion

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