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    “Everyone gather!”

    At Jeong-cho’s order, officials of the research facility promptly gathered in the front courtyard.  

    “Everyone has gathered.”  

    “Good work.”

    Hearing Jeong-cho’s report, Hyang standing on the pavilion platform got straight to the main point.

    “Work at the research facility will be suspended for a while.”

    Exchanging glances with each other at Hyang’s statement, the research facility officials made a commotion.  

    When the bustling died down a bit, Hyang explained his reason.  

    “A lot of manpower is needed for the selection process regarding those involved in the revolt. So cooperation requests have come in from the Office of Taxation and the Office of Law and Punishment.”  

    “But doesn’t the Ministry of Taxation already have enough personnel?”

    At Hyang’s explanation, Jinpyeong raised objections. To Jinpyeong’s objections, Hyang replied.

    “The Ministry of Taxation needs to collect taxes and circulate currency in time for the autumn harvest this year. The harvest this year stopped all across Joseon because of this rebellion. If the timing is missed, all farming for this year could turn to naught.”  

    At those words, Jinpyeong and other officials who were complaining fell quiet.  

    “But the railroad research….”

    Ahem!”  

    As Jinpyeong started to say something about lingering attachment to locomotives, Hyang’s glare turned fierce so he immediately shut his mouth.  

    After suppressing the palace invasion last time, Jinpyeong simultaneously feared yet respected Hyang. So when Hyang’s expression turned severe, he quickly closed his mouth.  

    With Jinpyeong ceasing to speak, the bustling completely disappeared.  

    “Then bring in the carts!”

    At Hyang’s order, the magistrates and gold troops brought in about 20 carts filled to the brim with books.  In front of the carts, Hyang continued speaking.  

    “The lists of rebels surrendered by the ministries of Taxation and Law and Punishments, registry records of the regions involved, and confiscated genealogies of the rebels’ clans. Checking these will determine who is included in collective punishment.”  

    “…Yes.”   

    *** 

    With the investigation into the rebels and their clans proceeding according to Hyang’s order, the research facility officials heaved sighs.  

    “The noblemen of Hasamdo will have their family lines cut off for sure.”  

    Though people often say when one is caught planning revolt ‘his three clans will be exterminated, his nine clans will be exterminated’, genuinely exterminating three and nine clans have been rare in the past.  

    To give the most recent example, even those implicated in ‘Gang Sang-in’s Conspiracy’ just had Gang Sang-in and his brother Shim On executed while their families were reduced to government slaves. Most others came out unscathed.

    But this time, those who fall under exceptions were very few. Because the rebels gathered under the pretext of ancestral rites for their clans before rising up, almost all members of the clans were involved.  

    It was the same for the wives of the instigators. While normally even the wives would be reduced to commoners and the wife’s clans left alone, clans whose wives also joined the rebellion were not small in number.  

    “What the heck!”  

    While organizing the register of names, Yi Soonji threw down his writing brush and shouted in frustration.  

    “No matter how disconnected from the world they lived, are they idiots! How can anyone be so stupid!”

    The order Sejong passed down through Hyang was simple.  

    —Though applying the Great Ming Code may be customary, we have our own laws in Joseon. Follow those laws to handle matters fairly and accurately.  

    While issuing this order, Sejong added the following.

    “I feel like following the Ming Emperor’s example and exterminating beyond nine clans to ten clans. However, as laws exist, we ought to follow them.”

    However, the scope of collective punishment for rebels according to Joseon laws or the Ming Code were mostly identical. 

    Additionally, most of these revolt cases consisted of members of a clan gathering together on the pretext of ancestral memorial rites before taking up arms. So those who could be excluded by applying collective punishment were extremely few.  

    This was exactly why Yi Soonji was so angry.  

    “Would you look at this! For crying out loud!”

    “Calm down! Stay calm!”

    The colleagues around hik tried to restrain Yi Soonji, but he could not hold down his anger.  

    “Look at this! This!!” 

    At Yi Soonji’s words, his colleagues glanced over the report he had been examining and unconsciously let out sighs as well.

    Sigh…

    At his colleagues’ reactions, Yi Soonji raised his voice.  

    “Even frogs stuck at the bottom of a well are smarter than this! Since when did 11 year olds participating in revolt make sense!”

    Sigh… There were that many idiots.”

    “Concur.” 

    Hearing Yi Soonji’s words, even the colleagues who were restraining him had to heave sighs.  

    According to the overall trend that one is treated as an adult once married even if they have yet to formally come of age at 15 years old, clans with boys still in early teens participating in the revolt were not rare.  

    In the end, there were many clans where all males of the clan joined the revolt and as a result, the whole clan was obliterated.  

    ***

    Having produced the results after a whole month of overtime, Hyang looked at the thick scrolls and sighed.  

    Phew… Dammit! Why is the summary report so freaking thick….”

    Seeing the scrolls and thick books situated in front of him, Hyang stood up with a helpless expression.   

    “Still need to report though…. Magistrate! Load all of these into carts!”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”  

    ***

    “Your Majesty, Crown Prince Hyang requests an audience.”

    “Let him in.”  

    Entering the closed quarters, Hyang offered respectful greetings to Sejong before looking around at the ministers. Seeing the previously glowing ministers’ complexions now rough and coarse, Hyang had a sorrowful expression.  

    ‘Their skin were shining just a few days ago… The elders must have suffered.’  

    “Is the organizing done?” 

    Tearing his sorrowful gaze from the ministers at Sejong’s question, Hyang promptly replied.

    “Yes, Father. Magistrate.”  

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    The magistrate following behind Hyang handed three thick scrolls to the high official.

    Receiving the scrolls from the high official, Sejong undid the knots and examined the contents.  

    “Sigh….”

    Seeing what the scrolls Hyang submitted contained, Sejong let out a sigh before he knew it.  

    “To think so many committed such foolish acts….”

    At Sejong’s sigh, Hyang immediately responded.  

    “It means there were that many who were completely ignorant of worldly matters among those who held the highest positions in those regions.”  

    “It must be so….”

    Answering in a bitter tone at Hyang’s words, Sejong looked over the numbers written at the very front of each scroll.  

    The three scrolls respectively summarized the situations in Chungcheong, Gyeongsang, and Jeolla where rebellions occurred this time.

    “As you can see from the scrolls….”

    Hyang gave a verbal explanation summarizing the contents.  

    The scale of involvement in each region was as follows:

    *Chungcheong  

    23 clans – 1218 people

    Private forces – 654  

    Slaves – 7,855

     

    *Gyeongsang  

    32 clans – 2,198 people

    Private forces – 3,421

    Slaves – 24,328

     

    *Jeolla  

    26 clans – 1,887 people  

    Private forces – 10,578

    Slaves – 21,894

     

    “A great many. Especially in Yeongnam and Honam….”

     

    Listening to Hyang’s explanation, Sejong looked around at the ministers.

    “Hold on. As I recall, we prohibited possessing and cultivating private armies long ago.”

    At Sejong’s words, Jo Mal-saeng stepped forward to answer.

    “That is correct. However, it seems powerful clans in the three southern provinces just changed the names and raised them. Passing them off as personal guards and merchants and so on.”  

    Sejong quietly nodded at Jo Mal-saeng’s answer. After all, even his own older brother, Grand Prince Yangnyeong, called up private forces on the pretext of ‘merchants skilled at hunting’.   

    “We will have to strictly crack down so that no more private armies can be cultivated because of this incident.”  

    While planning a policy to newly implement and examining the report, Sejong questioned the ministers again. 

    “What is the reason there are so many private forces and slaves in Yeongnam and Honam?”

    At Sejong’s question, Kim Jeom immediately answered. 

    “Yeongnam and Honam have been famous granaries since long ago so there were frequent raids by Japanese pirates. So most clans raised private forces. The reason for the large slave numbers is because sharecropping is common, but there is also a lot of land directly farmed using slave labor.”  

    “And all those vast lands were tax-exempt?”  

    At Sejong’s question, Kim Jeom promptly answered.

    “That is correct.”  

    “Hmm….”  

    Hearing Kim Jeom’s answer, Sejong looked over the scrolls again, brooding in thought. After a long period thinking alone, Sejong turned to the ministers.  

    “Though later generations may see this as cruel measures, I will have to make a resolute decision. Let us purge them.”

    At Sejong’s decision, the ministers shut their eyes tight. ‘Purge’ meant merciless mass cleansing.

    ‘But we have no grounds to stop this!’  

    ‘They dared armed rebellion…. There are no grounds!’

    And so in the end, the ministers could only bow their heads and give the same answer.

    “We shall heed your orders!”

    The scribe who recorded all these events appended the following at the end:  

    —Thus, when the King decided to purge those who instigated revolt, not a single minister opposed his will.  

     

    The scribe comments.  

    When the choice of a moment caused one’s own clan to perish, whom can they blame?   

    ***

    Though the decision was made to inflict extreme penalties on all officials related to the revolt, that did not end matters.  

    “What is this book?”

    From among the books that came with the scrolls, Sejong picked up the thickest tome and looked at the title.  

    “Record of a Loyalty-Oriented Individual with Contrary Views.?”

    Seeing Sejong expressing puzzlement at the title, Hyang immediately answered.  

    “It is the list of those, though from rebel clans, who did not participate in treason and kept their loyalty until the end.”

    “Is that so?”

    Eyes shining, Sejong looked over the names of those recorded in the list. However, in not long, he was full of regret.  

    “There are quite a lot of dead.”

    “Many were killed for refusing to join the revolt.”

    At Hyang’s reply, Sejong’s voice turned severe.  

    “By this, the rebels’ guilt grows heavier. No matter how you disagree, harming your own kin! Can such people still call themselves officials! Minister of Law and Punishments, listen!”

    “Yes, Your Majesty!”  

    “Those from clans who killed their own kinsmen will all be executed through dismemberment! They should not die easily!”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    Discussion regarding how to handle those involved with the rebellion continued after that. As the punishments for the rebels had already been decided, the discussion was mainly centered around meritorious subjects. 

    After quite a lengthy debate, the reward criteria for those who achieved merit in suppressing this uprising was formulated.  

    1st class meritorious subject

    Commanders who suppressed the palace invasion. Commanders who suppressed the uprising. Various commanders who died suppressing the palace invasion.

     

    2nd class meritorious subject. 

    Intermediate and low rank commanders who suppressed the palace invasion. Intermediate and low rank commanders who suppressed the uprising. Soldiers killed suppressing the palace invasion. The heads of clans who opposed those who started the uprising. 

     

    3rd class meritorious subject

    Various commanders killed suppressing the uprising. The heads of families who opposed those who started the uprising.

     

    4th class meritorious subject

    Those killed or injured in suppressing the uprising.

     

    Through these determined standards, rewards were conferred on related parties. 

    Through the newly implemented honors system devised at Hyang’s suggestion, many received military orders and rewards.

    However, in the process of giving rewards, Sejong gave them a choice.

    “I will either give land or an annuity – choose.”

    At Sejong’s proposal, those received rewards fell into thought. 

    If they chose the annuity, in addition to payments at set rates over a designated period, their children gained the benefit of admittance to military academy or exemption from corvee labor.  

    For country noblemen, Sejong additionally granted plaques personally inscribed with ‘Clan of Loyalty and Righteousness’.

    In contrast, if they chose land, all the additional benefits like mentioned above were completely gone. Moreover, the rewarded lands were given a 5 year complete tax exemption, with taxes halved for the next 5 years – that was it.

    Most meritorious subjects had no choice but to pick annuities.  

    It was Hyang who formulated this policy. While first coming up with the idea, Hyang muttered,  

    “I didn’t know you could apply policies like this…”   

    ***

    While rewards for the meritorious subjects ended like so, the suffering of rebel participants’ families had only just begun.  

    With the youngest rebel participant only 11 years old, male descendants had withered away from the clans involved with the rebellion.

    Additionally, with slave laws changing and the tax system transforming, there were no meritorious subjects who wanted to take on slaves. 

    “Should we send them north?”

    “If it was just a few, sending them north wouldn’t be an issue, but the numbers are too great. We can’t make the entire northern region into rebel sympathizers, right?”

    After all kinds of discussions, the settled punishment was sentenced to labor in mines.  

    All family members of rebel participants were dragged off to work 30 years of forced labor in iron and coal mines.

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