Joseon maps and East Asia

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Abstract

This paper has examined how the people of Joseon understood East Asia as depicted in its old maps. A great majority of Joseon maps of the world and foreign countries were made from imported source maps. Naturally, the consciousness of the original cartographers was transplanted along with the information in the maps. Once they were copied and used in Joseon, however, East Asia came to be understood from the Joseon perspective. The most important factor seems to have been their Sinocentric worldview. While Gangnido presents an excellent overview of all the continents, Matteo Ricci's World Map gives a panoramic view of the vast world, comprehensive enough to include even the New World. We should pay close attention to this. The sizes of Joseon and Japan give some clues to understanding the stance of fifteenth-century Joseon. Quite a few Joseon intellectuals did not see that the vast world presented in Matteo Ricci's map conflicted with the Sinocentric geographical notion. Inverted maps of Japan were very popular among Koreans from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. And Ryukyu was remembered as a commerce state in the minds of Joseon people. Many Joseon intellectuals believed that the Netherlands was a country in Far Southern Sea and actively engaged in trade with Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-79
Number of pages34
JournalKorea Journal
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Keywords

  • East Asia
  • Gangnido
  • Gyoki-style map
  • Haedong jegukgi
  • Joseon maps
  • Matteo Ricci
  • Ryukyu
  • Shanhaijing
  • Sinocentrism
  • Tsushima island

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