[KS] Kanghwa Treaty diplomatic protocol

Christine Kim cjk25 at georgetown.edu
Tue Nov 13 20:39:50 EST 2007

Dear All,

On behalf of a colleague, I am posting a question pertaining to  
diplomatic protocol surrounding the 1876 Treaty of Kanghwa and the  
social history of chairs in East Asia:

> I am trying to find out what setting and furniture were used when  
> Japanese and Korean officials met to sign the Kanghwa Treaty.  I  
> have been looking curiously at the Japanese woodblock print  
> depicting the scene that is reproduced in wikipedia.   
> Unfortunately, this reproduction is clipped, so I cannot read the  
> full title or date of the print.  Of course, it is quite possible  
> that the artist invented the scene without having been present or  
> seen a photograph.  In any event, my interest is primarily in  
> whether both parties sat on chairs, and if so, whether this was a  
> break with past protocol.  Tokugawa officials made quite a fuss  
> trying to insist that Westerners should sit on the floor with them  
> when the negotiated treaties in 1853-4.  If the Meiji leaders met  
> their Choson counterparts on chairs, were they following a Chinese  
> precedent of some kind that had been applied in earlier Japanese- 
> Korean encounters, or was this done at the insistence of the  
> westernized Japanese?  Was there any dispute between the two sides  
> about how they were to sit?  I would appreciate any information  
> people may have.
> Jordan Sand

The woodblock print in question:

My own hasty perusal of writings on the Kanghwa Treaty has failed to  
turn up anything relating to protocol, and I have not yet consulted  
any studies on Choson t'ongsinsa. Might someone illuminate us all?

Christine Kim
Georgetown University

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