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이 본 논문은 능지처참으로 잘 알려진 조선시대 능지처사(Death by a Thousand Cuts) 형벌에 관한 규정, 실제 집행 사례 등을 검토함으로써 중국에서 시행된 능지처사형과 비교사적 고찰을 시도하는 것이 목적이다. 중국 역사 속에서 오랜 세월 지속되었던 능지처사형은 조선왕조 수도 한양에서도 볼 수 있었다. 『조선왕조실록』의 기록에 의하면 1894년 갑오개혁으로 폐지되기 전까지 조선시대 내내 능지처참의 극형이 종종 시행된 사실을 확인할 수 있다. 조선시대에는 명나라의 『대명률(大明律)』을 형법으로 사용하였기 때문에, 중국과 마찬가지로 반역자와 함께 살인을 저지른 패륜아·흉악범들은 능지처참으로 처단하는 것이 원칙이었다. 그런데 조선에서 능지처사형의 집행 방법은 중국의 경우와는 달리 대개 소나 말이 끄는 수레에 죄인의 팔다리와 목을 매달아 찢어 죽이는 거열(車裂)로 대신했다. 그리고 거열 후 절단된 머리는 효시(梟示)라 하여 3일간 매달아 두었으며, 잘라낸 팔과 다리는 팔도의 각 지역에 돌려보이게 하였다. 한편, 역모에 연루된 죄인을 거열할 때에 국왕은 경각심을 불러일으키기 위해 모든 관리들을 군기시(軍器寺) 앞길에 빙 둘러서게 한 다음 싫든 좋든 거열하는 장면을 보도록 했는데, 세조가 사육신(死六臣)을 비롯한 관련 죄수를 처단할 때 이같이 지시한 것이 그 한 예이다. 조선에서 시행된 능지처사형의 기능과 목적이 중국과 유사한 점이 많지만, 시행 방법 등에서는 차이가 존재하였다. 본 논문에서는 동양의 잔혹한 신체절단 형벌의 대명사로 인식되고 있는 능지처사 형벌이 조선에서는 어떻게 시행되었는지 구체적으로 확인함으로써, 한국의 형벌문화가 갖는 특징을 살펴보았다.


In this article, the ‘Neungji Cheosa(凌遲處死)’ penalty practice (“Death by a Thousand cuts”) of the Joseon period is examined in terms of regulations and real examples, so that we could compare the nature of such practice with the same penalty that was executed inside China as well. The penalty nicknamed as “Death by a Thousand cuts” had been in use inside China for a long time, and it was also used by the Joseon people especially in the dynasty’s capital. According to the 『Annals of the Joseon Dynasty』, the penalty continued to be exacted throughout the entire Joseon period, and was discontinued only in 1894 when the Gabo-year reforms proceeded. The Joseon people were using the Chinese Ming dynasty’s 『Dae’Myeong-ryul(大明律)』 code as its primary penal code as well, so they used to punish people who committed the most heinous crimes as a human, or perpetrated seriously treasonous actions that would harm the country, with this particular penalty. Yet unlike China, Joseon rather used the method of tearing the person’s body by fixing the person’s neck, arms and legs to carts instructed to race in all directions after they were firmly tied to the person’s body(“車裂”). Then, after the person’s body was literally torn apart, the head was put on a display for three days, and the person’s severed arms and legs were put on a tour that circulated the local offices throughout the country. And whenever a criminal who was charged with treason was to be executed, the king ordered all governmental officials to stand along the road in front of the Gun’gi-shi(軍器寺) office, and watch the person being torn no matter they would like it or not, in order to arouse the officials’ attention to the price they could pay for disloyalty in the future. For example, King Sejo ordered the officials to do so, when he executed the Six honorary officials(死六臣) who had tried to assassinate Sejo and reinstate the late king Danjong. In short, there were many similarities between Joseon’s said penalty and the Chinese one in terms of its objectives and its functions, yet there was also a distinct difference between them as well, especially in the ways they were actually implemented. By having a correct understanding of how the Joseon people exacted such practice, which has been considered as being one of the prime examples of Asia’s most cruel body-tearing penalties, we could examine the unique nature of Korea’s penalties and the culture that was formed around it.