Route of the Korean envoys of Chosun Dynasty and their cultural legacy in Japan

Kwangsik, Kim (2005) Route of the Korean envoys of Chosun Dynasty and their cultural legacy in Japan. In: 15th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Monuments and sites in their setting - conserving cultural heritage in changing townscapes and landscapes’, 17 – 21 oct 2005, Xi'an, China. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910) of Korea, which maintained closed-door policy except with Qing, China, has maintained a diplomatic relations with Edo Bakufu of Japan from early 17th century till the Meiji restoration (of emperor) in 1868. It was interesting in that Japan, which was also in the period of national isolation, had formal relations with Korean Kingdom. Two states exchanged diplomatic envoys on a fairly routine basis. Korean side allowed a Japanese legation to station in Busan port. Records show that during two and half century Korean Kingdom dispatched 12 missions to Japan. The mission comprised of 300 to 500 members took minimum of 6 months to one year to complete the journey. The route the mission took was the same. They would travel by land from Hanyang (now Seoul) to Dongrae (now Busan) and met by Japanese escort to start sea route to Osaka via Korea Strait to Tsushima, Shimoneseki and Seto inner islets corridor. At the Osaka estuary, the envoys land and took the Japanese Tokaido route to Edo (now Tokyo). This diplomatic mission was a big event in Japan. When the envoys arrive in Japan, local feudal rulers along the route were obliged to entertain and to escort them to Edo. Korean envoys played the role of transmitter of Korean culture and material objects to Japan. When the envoys pass through a town, to common people, it provided unusual occasion to watch foreign military honor guard in full uniform parade through their street. At the guesthouse, envoys and the local hosts have exchanged poems and views in handwriting in Chinese characters. Sending and receiving of this mission produced unusual cultural event, very unique kind of cultural exchange. This exchange of mission discontinued because both countries found too expensive to pay the huge expenses to send and receive the mission. Although the route is no longer used for any similar purpose, there are abundant archeological and documentary evidences that speak of its magnitude and impacts of this exchange. There are number of accounts and diaries by Korean envoys most of which were collected and published as Hae Heng Chong Jae (Collections of Sea Fares). In Japan, there are plenty of documentation of these trips, paintings of the envoys, calligraphies and related materials. In number of local sites where the envoys stayed, numeral monuments are still to be found. During the past two decades, there have been number of attempts to shed spotlight this unique cultural exchange in the form of museum exhibitions, symposia and publications in both countries. A Korean media company staged the reenactment of the past voyage a few years ago. This paper will attempt to explore the significance of the Korean diplomatic envoys to Japan in 17-19C, together with some examples of exchange of value, impact on cultural life in both countries. This would identify a unique cultural route in the northeast Asia.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Kwangsik, Kim
Languages: English
Keywords: cultural route; cultural values; historical survey
Subjects: H. HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 07. Cultural routes
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 04. Asia and Pacific islands
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2005, 15th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2010 12:53
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2011 19:15

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