Besieged on a frozen mountain top: Opposing records from the Qing invasion of Chosńn, 1636-1637

Thomas Quartermain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


King Injo and his entourage remained on the summit of Mount Namhan for the greater part of the Qing Invasion of Chosŏn. During this time, court officials conducted intense debates as to whether to pursue continued military resistance against the Qing, or to conclude a settlement with them on the best terms possible. These officials have typically been placed into two political factions, the Peace Faction and the Anti-peace Faction. However, such a simple division obscures the complex realities of the political intrigue operative during the invasion. There are a number of records written during the short conflict. They offer glimpses into the actual, and often concealed, context of the political manoeuvres inside the besieged mountain fortress. Two diaries, Kim Sanghŏn's Namhan kiryak (Resource on Namhan [Mountain Fortress]) and Nam Kŭp's Namhan ilgi (The Namhan [Mountain Fortress] Diary), look at the war inside the fortress from two perspectives'the former from the point of view of a literati official who spoke of his own willingness to die, and the latter through the eyes of a military official who actually put his life on the line in defence of the wall. Rather than either protagonist embodying a self-contained political entity or representing the only logical conclusion to the war, the writings afford us clues as to the real and understandable concerns of individuals foreseeing an inevitable outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-167
Number of pages31
JournalActa Koreana
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Academia Koreana, Keimyung University, 2018.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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