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    Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m gonna start dividing these long chapters into two parts. They’ve been getting way too long, most of them are over 3k words! Also, if you’re digging my translation, please consider subscribing to this novel’s translation. Hope you enjoy this chapter!

    [ihc-select-level id=39]


    The most damaging season for smallpox was during the spring and early summer. The main routes of smallpox transmission were through respiratory and skin contact among people. Due to this characteristic, the season when smallpox mainly broke out was from autumn to the early summer. This was because the weather became colder, causing people to gather in family units indoors. However, the spread of smallpox was not fast in mid-winter due to people not engaging in outdoor activities because of cold weather.

    Moreover, during the autumn, the harvest was complete and there was plenty of food, so even if someone got infected with smallpox, the survival rate was high. Although they might become a cripple or experience various after-effects.

    However, the early summer was deadly. People searched for food, wandering in and out of the mountains, causing smallpox to spread rapidly over a wide area. When they became malnourished, their resistance decreased, leading to a sharp increase in the death rate.

    For this reason, the government set a goal to complete the smallpox vaccination before the onset of early summer.

    ◈◈◈

    When the court was busy preparing for the aristocracy’s inoculation, messengers who had gone to Ming returned.

    The messengers who returned from Ming reported the results of their mission.

    “…Therefore, starting from the next time, Ming will send only civil officials as envoys to Joseon. Here is the document issued by the Emperor[1].”

    “You’ve worked hard.”

    Sejong, who had checked the contents of the scroll handed by the Chief State Councilor Ryu Jeong-hyeon, looked back at his officials.

    “It would be best to hang this as a display at the banquet hall of Mohwagwan.”

    “Your Majesty is wise.”

    The officials all expressed their agreement with Sejong’s words. No matter how arrogant an envoy might be, they couldn’t act recklessly in front of the Emperor’s handwritten document. If they dared to do so, it would be equivalent to slitting their own throats.

    “What about the major issue of creating a trading post?”

    “Indeed, reaching an agreement on that matter was not easy. To put it briefly, we decided to establish a trading post in Shandong province.”

    “Is that so?”

    According to the Chief State Councilor’s explanation, Joseon wanted the area near Shanhai Pass[2] as a strong candidate, while Ming preferred the area near the Amnok (or Yalu) River.

    The problem was the security in the Liaodong region. Although Ming claimed to maintain defense and security based on the Wèi Suǒ System[3], the Liaodong region was where Jurchens and even bandits were located. Therefore, a certain number of troops always escorted the merchants.

    If a permanent trading post was established and many merchants gathered there, it was certain that a considerable number of troops would be stationed at the trading post, responsible for the protection of the post and escorting the merchants. This was where the issue arose.

    Joseon did not want Ming troops to be permanently stationed near the Amnok River, and Ming did not want a large number of Joseon troops stationed right at Shanhai Pass.[4]

    As a result, the officials from Ming and the ambassadors from Joseon had to engage in an intense war of words.

    The Chief State Councilor, who was reporting to King Sejong, recounted a short anecdote that occurred during the heated debate.

    “Amid the stagnant situation, one of Ming’s officials came up with a new proposal.”

    “A new proposal?”

    “To establish a market exactly halfway between Ming and our Joseon.”

    “Oh, and then? What happened?”

    “He disappeared from sight the next day.”

    “Hahaha!”

    After the brief anecdote, Ming and Joseon ended up in a deadlock, continually going in circles. When both sides were exhausted from the war of words, the Chief State Councilor put forth a new suggestion.

    “How about opening a port instead?”

    “A port, you say?”

    “Yes.”

    The Ming officials pondered over his proposal. After some time, they nodded their heads.

    “That’s a good idea.”

    “It’s worth considering.”

    After reaching an agreement among themselves, the Ming officials asked the Joseon envoys.

    “Do you have a suitable candidate location in mind? We will submit the petition to His Majesty the Emperor.”

    In response to the Ming officials’ favorable reaction, the Chief State Councilor suggested a suitable candidate location.

    “How about Shandong?”

    “Shandong?”

    “Shandong, indeed…”

    When the Chief State Councilor mentioned Shandong, Ming officials stepped back and whispered amongst themselves. The Ming officials who had been whispering for a while finally stepped back.

    “We will report this to His Majesty the Emperor.”

    “We hope there is a good answer.”

    Three days later, officials from Ming and Joseon gathered again in one place.

    “His Majesty has decided. He permits the establishment of a Joseon consulate in Shandong.”

    Upon the Ming official’s words, the Joseon envoys, including the Chief State Councilor, politely responded.

    “We appreciate His Majesty the Emperor’s grace.”

    With the decision made by Emperor Yongle[5], the matter proceeded swiftly.

    “How about naming the consulate ‘Joseon Emporium[6]’ and setting its location at the old Silla-district (neighborhood located in Gyeongju) site?”

    “If it’s the Silla-district site…”

    The Ming official pointed at the location of Silla-district on the map. After confirming the location on the map, the Chief State Councilor nodded.

    “That place seems to be suitable.”

    Once the location was decided, the next issue that came up was maintenance. To be precise, it was the construction and maintenance cost of the consulate.

    “How about charging an entry fee?”

    “We have to cross the sea by boat. You should also consider the risk burden.”

    Ming tried to get more, while Joseon tried to give less, continuing a push and pull.

    Eventually, after tedious pushing and pulling, Ming and Joseon agreed to collect 1% of the transaction amount as customs duties from Ming and Joseon merchants trading at the Joseon Emporium. In return, Ming agreed to construct all buildings entering the Joseon Emporium.

    “That’s acceptable…”

    Listening to the report from the Chief State Councilor, Sejong assessed the profit and loss and nodded. As Sejong showed a positive response, not only the Chief State Councilor but also all the envoys who went and returned sighed in relief.

    “So, when can the Joseon Emporium open its doors?”

    “We expect it to be next summer.”

    “Is that so? Hmm…”

    After a moment of organizing his thoughts, King Sejong spoke, “Let’s move on from that… Did the accompanying merchants do well in their business?”

    At King Sejong’s question, the Chief State Councilor looked back at the Minister of Taxation, who promptly answered under the Chief State Councilor’s glare.

    “Everyone has made a great profit. The least successful ones have made a profit three times, and those who made the most have made twenty times more.”

    “Twenty times? What did they sell?”


    Footnotes

    [1] Emperor of Ming

    [2] One of the passes in the Great Wall of China was one of the easternmost strongholds along the Ming Great Wall. It is located in Hebei province.

    [3] Wèi Suǒ System (衛所制): A system in Ming China for maintaining defense and security in the border areas. Wei (guards) and Suo (battalions).

    [4] Shanhaiguan (山海關): A pass located in Hebei Province, China, which is the eastern starting point of the Great Wall of China.

    [5] Emperor of Ming

    [6] I’m taking liberty with this, the original just a state office or building, but since I wanted to differentiate it from other building’s purposes, I translate it as Emporium instead. A place where trading takes place.


    [su_note note_color=”#eeecee” text_color=”#000000″ radius=”5″]Extra Notes[/su_note]

    • Map of Ming

     

    • Whereabouts of Amnok (or Yalu) River

     

    • Whereabouts of Shanhai Pass

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