Korea introduced in the voyages

Korea National Maritime Museum

Going through the old records written by the people from the West crossing the oceans, their perception of Korea of the time is revealed.

Description of Empire of China
J. B. Du Halde | France, 1735

The book is a collection of letters and reports exchanged between Jesuit missionaries who were dispatched to China and Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, a Jesuit priest approved by the Vatican, in 1735.

The original title of 『Description of Empire of China』 is 『Geographical, Historical, Chronological, Political, and Physical Description of the Empire of China and Chinese Tartary』. The book series consists of 4 folio volumes which was the biggest size among the books published at that time.

The Korea-related references in the 「Description of Empire of China」 are a map titled 「Carte générale de la Tartarie chinoise, a complete map of Chinese Tartary」 at the end of the table of contents of the volume one, and a map and historical and geographical accounts in the volume four. The map on page 423 of the volume four, titled 「Royaume de Corée, the Kingdom of Korea」 depicts the Korean peninsula with the name of provinces, towns and provincial boundaries in detail.

A Voyage Around the World by Lapérouse
Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse | France, 1797

The first edition of Voyage Around the World, by Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse (1741–1788),

who observed, measured, and recorded his voyage, which included the South and the East Sea of Joseon.

La Pérouse was the first Westerner to see Ulleungdo Island, and named it after his crew member Dagelet, an astronomer who was the first on the ship to have sighted the island. Western maps labeled Ulleungdo Island as “Dagelet” for about 150 years, until the 1950s.

La Pérouse recorded his expedition from Jejudo Island to the South and East Seas of Joseon, which was carried out May 19–27, 1787, and surveyed and charted the coastline.

Travel Guide: Hollander Linschoten, His discours of voyages into the East and West Indies
Jan Huyghen van Linschoten | Netherlands, 1638

A “travel guide” published by a Dutch trader and traveler Jan Huyghen van Linschoten (1563–1611). Featuring a number of maps of the Orient and information about the region, it was essential for seafarers exploring the East. His book contains maps of voyages to the East Indies and information about the region, which was largely unknown to Europe, thus contributed to pioneering trade between Europe and Asia.

Among the maps comprising the volumes, a map that includes Korea is Jacob van Langeren’s Map of the East Indies. Since little was known about the Far East, Joseon and Japan are represented as a round island and a prawn-shaped island, respectively.

Also, Joseon is labeled Corea Island (Ilha de Corea), and the sea between Joseon and Japan is labeled as the Korean coast (Costa de Conray or Comray [i.e., Couray]).

Van Langren,H.F., Extra & Accurata Delinerarie World Map
Henricus F. van Langren | 1595


The 『Extra & Accurata Delinerarie World Map」 is a colored map printed from the engraving produced by Henricus Floris van Langren. The engraving was produced based on the nautical charts and maps collected by Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a Dutch merchant, trader and historian. When he came back to the Netherlands after he had stayed in India and Asia for about 7 years, he published the 「Itineraio」 in 1596, which contained the map uncolored. The world map places the eastward of the map on the northward unlike the other general maps. Asian countries are differently colored to show the boundaries and the picture of animals, mountain ranges and vessels sailing the ocean are drawn on the ocean and the land. The ocean between Korea and Japan is marked as “Costa de Conray”, the coast of Korea. Since the Europeans at that time didn’t think Korea is a peninsular country connected to China but an island country round-shaped, the map marks Korea as “Ilha de Corea”, Korea Islands.

Account of Captain Cook’s Voyage
UK, 1773·1777·1784

The first edition of an accounts of Captain Cook’s Voyages. British explorer and navigator James Cook (1728–1779), widely known as “Captain Cook,” made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean and discovered new geographic information.

His first voyage was to New Zealand and Australia; the second voyage in 1772 reached the Antarctic Circle; and the third voyage included passage through the Bering Strait to reach the Arctic Ocean, from a departure point in the North Pacific Ocean.

During his third and final voyage, Cook returned for a period to the Hawaiian Archipelago, where he was killed in a confrontation with villagers. However, the remaining crew completed his final voyage and published an account of it.

Account of the Shipwreck of a Dutch Vessel on the Coast of The Isle of Quelpaert and Description of The Kingdom of Korea(French Translation Edition)
Hendrik Hamel | France, 1670

An Account of the Shipwreck of a Dutch Vessel on the Coast of the Isle of Quelpaert, Together With the Description of the Kingdom of Corea, are the first French-translated editions of The Journal of Hendrick Hamel, an account of Hamel’s drifting and life in Joseon.

Hendrik Hamel (1630–1692) was a crew member of the Dutch East India Company, and in 1653, while sailing to Nagasaki, Japan on the ship “De Sperwer,” he and 36 other crewmates survived a shipwreck on Jejudo Island. He lived in captivity until escaping in 1666, and returned to the Netherlands in 1668. After returning to his homeland, Hamel wrote an account of the events of his travels and his life in captivity, which became the first report received in Europe of Korea and its geography, customs, politics, military, education, trade, etc.

A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean(French Translation Edition)
France, 1807

The original title of the book is 『Voyage de Découvertes Dans La Partie Septentrionale de L’Océan Pacifique, fait par le capitaine W. R. Broughton, commandant la corvette de S.M.B. La Providence et sa conserve, pendant les années 1795, 1796, 1797 et 1798』. The first edition was published in London and the French version was published in 1807.

The title of the vol.1 is 「 Contenant ce qui se passa depuis commencement du voyage jusqu’à notre première arrive à Macao en Chine」 and the vol.2 is 「Contenant le détail de notre second voyage au nord, en passant pour le détroit de sangaar, et de notre retour à Madras, en passent le long de la côte de Corée, et devant la mer jaune」.

And there is a map right after the translator’s preface. The title of the map is 「Carte de la côte N. E. de L’Asie et des Isles du Japon, sur laquelle est trcée la route de la corvette la Providence et de sa conserve sous le commandant du capitaine W. Broughton dans les Anées 1796 et 1797」

East Sea (Donghae), Busan port and Jeju island are marked as ‘Côte de Corée’, ‘Port de Chosan’ and ‘I. Quelpaert’ on the nautical map. It is unclear what ‘Thosang’ indicates, which is marked in the middle of South Sea (Namhae). The illustration, number 55 of the volume 3, is the map of Joseon with the title of 「Carte du Royaume de Kau-Li ou Corée」. On the map, the names of rivers, islands and regions are marked and ‘Mer de Corée’, the sea of Joseon, is shown on the right side of Korean peninsula.

The History of Travel by Prévost
Antoine François Prévost | France, 1745~1789

A 19-volume collection of travelogues comprised of every known account of journeys published in Europe since the 15th century, prepared by French author Antoine François Prévost (1697–1763). Prévost himself wrote the epilogue, and Jean-Baptiste Regis organized and commented on the writings. It also introduced Hamel’s Account of the Shipwreck of a Dutch Vessel on the Coast of the Isle of Quelpaert, Together With the Description of the Kingdom of Corea.

Accounts of Joseon are introduced in the sixth and the seventh volumes, covering two chapters. In France at that time, this amounted to the total sum of knowledge available of Joseon, a country unknown to most Europeans.

Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loo-Choo Island in the Japan Sea
Basil Hall | UK, 1818

Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loochoo Island of 1818, written by British naval officer Basil Hall (1788–1844). On his way back from sailing to Kwangtung in China, he navigated the West Sea of Joseon and wrote an account of the voyage.

Setting foot on Joseon, he was able to meet and communicate with Yi Seung-ryul, the County Magistrate of Biin, and Cho Dae-bok, the garrison commander of Maryangjin, using hand motions. Hall also collected several local products of Joseon and returned.

He published this book based on a chart created by surveying the west coast and the record of his voyage.

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