Format & Contents

The Maninso movement had been held seven times in total during the late Joseon dynasty; however, there currently exist only two original copies of Maninso: Maninso to reinstate the status of Crown Prince Sado as a king from 1855 and Maninso to oppose the dress reformation from 1884. The very first Maninso from 1792 was lost during Hyangjeon (鄕戰) between the Southern faction (Nam-in) from Yeongnam, Andong, and the Old Learning (No-ron) from Giho area which was held until the early 1800 after the Maninso movement. There is an article that show Maninso to abolish discrimination against Seo-eol was actually submitted, but there is no specific document about this Maninso. Maninso to object the demolition of Seowon and Cheoksa Maninso were regarded as direct resistance to central state's policies, and the heads of Sangso and the people who prepared them were sent into exile. Sangso disappeared as well during the process. However, the two existing copies explain well enough about the format of Maninso.

Maninso is a large record that consists of the body with the contents of the petition and the names of approximately 10,000 people and their signatures. The length of the record is around 100 meters and there is no other records like this in the world. The petition part follows the general format of Sangso. The names and signatures are the part that creates this record to become gigantic.

The body of Maninso is about the reason why this Maninso is submitted. In other words, it includes the contents of the petition. Maninso to reinstate the status of Crown Prince Sado as a king from 1855 starts as “Yu Hak (幼學), Hui-byeong Lee (李彙炳), and others, the Yusaeng from Gyeongsangdo Province are much obliged and bow down again and again to your Majesty for hundred times, and beg to inform you.” After this, Maninso strongly suggests arguments about what people were trying to express. Maninso from 1855 starts as follows:

As we bowed down and thought, we realized that we are just foolish, low-born people living in a far-away, small village in the mountains in Yeongnam area. However, we are not far away from the minds of being loyal to the king and loving the country with the huge influence of the state ruled by the wise king (聖朝). Also, we are not foolish and low-born in the field of duties and customs as the people of the state because we have followed the right teachings from our ancestors intermittently.

Even though Yeongnam is an area which was considered to be located far away, they started Maninso with confidence that the area was not dark in the field of their duties and customs. Yusaeng from Yeongnam included arguments to clarify Imoeuiri and to reinstate the status of Crown Prince Sado as a king.

The body of Maninso is different according to reasons of Sangso submissions. There are various Sangso including one to reveal the wrongful death of the rightful heir of the crown, Sado, and execute people who were involved in his death and another to put emphasis on resisting to foreign influences coming into the country. Therefore, the contents of Sangso cannot be summarized in one word, but the intention of them in the broader term is clear enough: to criticize inappropriate power and policies based on the Confucian principles and to guide them to the right direction. Thus, some went against the history if each is looked at in details, but all can be defined as the specific practical movements where the Confucian scholars were trying to change reality at the risk of their lives based on their beliefs.

While the contents of the petition are the reasons why Maninso are submitted, the reason why Maninso can be Maninso is the names and signatures of 10,000 people. The title, Maninso, means "Sangso signed by 10,000 people," so this part provides the important reason to define the characteristic of Maninso. Especially the signatures prove the part of "10,000 people (萬人)" that is comprised of each individual, verifying that it was prepared by completely voluntary participation. In other words, the names and signatures add more weights and values to the contents and shows that it is the opinion of the heaven.

For this reason, it was the rule for each individual to write down one's name by hand. Furthermore, one had to sign or stamp under the name as well (Sugyeol, 手決). Sugyeol was the authentication process to prove one's identity, showing clearly that each person voluntarily participated and took reponsibility for the contents. Also, this was to show that the signatures were not forged or the number of signers was not exaggerated by specific power. Maninso could be finally complete with each person's Sugyeol and this process brought the meaning as Maninso to it.

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