[KS] Institue of the Library of Myongji

J.Scott Burgeson jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 6 22:59:51 EST 2002

To the List--
   I wonder if the following statement, the title of
an upcoming lecture at Myongji Uni to be hosted by
Hamel-expert Henny Savenije, is accurate:

The topic of the first lecture is "Hamel the first
> man to write about Korea
> from first hand experiences."

   I assume what is meant above is "the first
'Western' man," but that is not the statement I would
like to call into question here. In his 1930 booklet
"Occidental Literature on Korea," first read before
the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1930,
Dr. Horace H. Underwood makes reference to one Gregory
Cespedes, "who came to Korea as chaplain of the
Japanese Christian soldiers under the Christian
General Konishi" in 1592 (some 60 years before Hamel
arrived in Korea and 75-odd years before his journal
was published in Rotterdam in 1668). Dr. Underwood
refers to "extracts or copies" of letters Cespedes is
known to have written which appeared in the published
letters (Milan, 1597) of Father Pierre Gomez in Japan
to Claude Acquavira, General of the Company of Jesus,
although Underwood admits that he has not seen these
letters first-hand himself. He concludes his
observations by saying, "But what did Cespedes see and
say? Why were his reports so buried that 70 years
later Hamel's account was hailed as the first? Are
these letters the basis of an article recently
published in French on the "Priority due to the
Spanish in the Discovery of Korea"? Possibly, but I
always supposed that Cespedes was a Portuguese and if
so to whom does this article refer"?
   Has this theory been subsequently debunked? Have
the letters of Cespedes been found, or discredited? If
not, then Hamel's title as "the first Westerner to
write about Korea from first-hand experiences" must be
held under closer scrutiny and re-evaluated. Of
course, it is much nicer to think that a sympathetic
guy like Hamel wrote the first Western account of
Korea, as opposed to a friend of those evil invaders
the Japanese. Then again, this wouldn't be the first
time nationalism has colored the interpretation of
Korean history...
   Anyway, if anyone has more information about this,
I would like to know. In any case, I think it is safe
to say that Hamel is "the first Westerner to write a
book about Korea," if not the first to write about it
from first-hand experiences...
   --Scott Bug


--- "Kim, Tschung-Sun" <tskim at hiu.edu> wrote:
> Upon the request of Henny Savenije:
> The Institute of the Library of Myongji University:
> the so-called LG-
> collection, in Seoul is pleased to invite you to
> attend the first Forum on
> Friday January 11, 2002, which will be held at 6:30
> p.m. at Myongji
> University Seoul. 
> The topic of the first lecture is "Hamel the first
> man to write about Korea
> from first hand experiences. Who were these men that
> came to Korea? How was
> the data obtained to research their lives? What
> further information is
> there about them? How to do research about these men
> and their situation?" 
> The speaker and host is Henny Savenije. 
> Myongji University is located in Namkajwa dong. 
> How to get there? 
> Take Subway line 3 (the orange line) to Hongjw and
> take bus 74 or bus 440 
> to Myongji 
> or 
> Take Subway line 2 (the green line) to either Ehwa
> Women's University or 
> Sinchon. 
> From both stations you can take bus 50 or 440. From
> Ehwa Women's 
> University you can also take bus 542. 
> If you come to the University, go to the main
> building and follow the 
> English signs there. 
> People who go to the university by car are requested
> to send a
> confirmation in advance so we can arrange free
> parking tickets. 
> A route description can be found at 
> Henny (Lee Hae Kang) 

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