Peasant Violence and Rural Disturbances in Chŏlla Province: An Alternative View of Peasant Resistance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper examines outbreaks of popular rebellion and rural disorder in Chŏlla Province (the Honam 湖南 area), Korea, between 1674 and 1800. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the causes of popular protest and provide a more comprehensive picture of Korean rural life. It offers a “picture” of popular unrest in the Honam area that differs radically from the nationwide picture offered by recent scholarship. Reliant on teleological methodologies, scholars characterize this as a period of increasingly violent popular resistance that is described as nationwide, constant, inevitable, and characterized by classes who were developing a clear political consciousness. My analysis of reports about the Honam region from official records of the Chosŏn kingdom shows three very distinct periods. An initial period of instability, in Chŏlla province, followed by the 1728 Musillan uprising. After 1728, there were few reports about attacks on officials or accounts of the vicious cycle of famine-refugee-bandit-corruption that had afflicted the previous fifty years. There are two reasons for this period of calm. The Musillan uprising served as a safety-valve, releasing some of the mounting tension in the Honam area. Worried that the successes of the uprising might encourage imitators, the government implemented a policy of localized reforms and repressive measures, which helped stabilize the Honam region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121–144
Number of pages24
JournalArchiv Orientalni: quarterly journal of African and Asian studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Rebellion
  • Chŏson history
  • Chŏlla Province
  • Jeolla Province
  • Joseon history

Cite this