Sadae[1] is a neutral Korean term. It is used in historical contexts.[2] The term is used as a descriptive label for diplomatic relations between Imperial China and Korea during the Joseon period and earlier.

Revised RomanizationSadae

Sadae describes a foreign policy. It describes the many ways a small country acknowledges the strength of a greater power like that of China.

For example, Sadae is shown in the actions of the weaker state as it conveys goodwill and respect through its envoys.

The term sadae is also used to explain Korean diplomacy before the establishment of the Joseon kingdom.


The historical term is derived from the Chinese shi da (Korean, sadae) as used by the philosopher Mencius. Sadae literally means "dealing with the great" or "serving the great."[3]

Sadae establishes a framework with China as the center of a Confucian moral universe.[4]

Ssadae is contrasted with limited trade relationships with other neighboring countries such as Japan.[5]

The concept of sadae was rejected by Korean nationalists in the 20th century.[6]

Related pagesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Sadae (Korean: 사대; Hanja: 事大)
  2. Armstrong, Charles K. (2007). The Koreas, p. 57-58.
  3. Pratt, Keith L. et al. (1999). Korea: a historical and cultural dictionary, p. 394; note that this ancient term is distinguished from the mdoern "sadaejuui", which was invented by early 20th century Korean nationalists -- see Mitchell, Anthony. "Happier Economy Better Than Larger Economy," Korea Times (Seoul). October 12, 2008.
  4. Mansourov, Alexandre Y. "Will Flowers Bloom without Fragrance? Korean-Chinese Relations," Harvard Asia Quarterly (Spring 2009).
  5. Kang, Etsuko H. (1997). Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, p. 49.
  6. Robinson, Michael. (1984) "National Identity and the Thought of Shin Ch'ae-ho: Sadaejuüi and Chuch'e in History and Politics," Journal of Korean Studies, Vol. 5, pp. 121–142.