[KS] Map of Seoul; 경조오부도(京兆五部圖) in Hangul at AGS Library, Milwaukee, WI

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Thu Jul 4 09:25:03 EDT 2013

Yoo Kwang-On wrote:
> Can you kindly post a couple of images of the maps you are talking about?

I am lost here, with this request. … The maps I am talking about??? 

To summarize:

06/30: Gari Ledyard shares his wonderful article with us, entitled "A 
Unique 18th-Century Korean Map," about a map with placenames given in 
Han'gŭl, a map he names "Gabor map" after is present owner. Professor 
Ledyard does a very interesting analysis of the place names in that 
map, looking at name changes in the later Chosŏn period and also at 
orthographic changes; and he also makes notes on stylistic issues 
(crude way of writing Han'gŭl) and the physical state of the map. From 
his solid analysis of the place name changes and the orthographic 
changes, he comes to the clear conclusion that this is a 18th century 
product--and the physical condition does not indicate any objections to 
that either. That makes it the first all-Han'gŭl map in Korea! It is 
therefore a very essential piece of historical evidence.

Now, because of this, we have to tread this as a "collector's item" 
with cultural-historical and historical importance, just like an 
important work of "art"--not just as a map like a geographer would look 
at a map. From that point of view, what Professor Ledyard "left out" in 
his analysis, and I think that was smart and makes sense from his 
expertise in history and linguistics, that is: (a) ownership history 
(who owned the map since it was produced, how did it end up at an 
auction in Europe, and which auction?) And (b) a physical and chemical 
examination of the map … for paper and ink, though, are almost 
impossible to date if they are older than the 1910s. And the "age of 
its paper, based on its coloration" (footnote 10) is really not at all 
acceptable, and I am not sure why the consulted expert,  Prof. Lee 
Seung-chul, would have said so. The coloration of any paper, both 
Western papers and hanji, varies *widely* depending on the archival 
conditions over the centuries. The same is true for ink. In addition to 
the superb analysis given by Professor Ledyard these would be essential 
pieces of evidence when trying look into the issue if such a map is 
original or a forgery. (This should please not be misconstrued as 
criticism. I am just pointing to the second part of an analysis 
necessary to evaluate what we have there, an analysis that should be 

06/30: I pointed out that the OTHER map Professor Ledyard referred to, 
a later map that he said seems to have been known as the first one with 
place names in Han'gŭl, actually had no Han'gŭl names but rendered the 
Korean prounciation of place names in Roman letters. 

07/02: Henny Savenije also pointed to two images of that and a related 
map on his website.
       I noted the book publication and an article by Professor 
Jin-Mieung Li from France, who had discussed at the mentioned 
Roman-letter map by Kim Tae-gŏn and then other early Han'gŭl-only maps, 
all at the Département des Cartes et Plans, Bibliothè que Nationale 
de France. Again, these are maps from 1945 and after -- NOT from the 
18th century like the Gabor map. And I tried to make clear in this 
posting already that there there are various other such maps in Hang'ŭl 
from that mid- and later 19th century.
07/02: Now Yoo Kwang-On says "here is another one" and points to a map 
from 1883-1887, from time of the "opening" of Korea, where the U.S., 
Germany, France, Russia, etc. do establish embassies in Korea, etc.  
Yes sure, that is no surprise, and naturallt there are quite a number 
of these from the late 19th century--but *not* from the 18th century.

What I think are the most essential questions:

1. Is the map an original from the 18th century, or is it a late 19th 
century copy where Hanja has been substituted by Han'gŭl, or is it even 
a forgery? I am not suggesting either one here; these are just the 
usual questions and issues that have to be resolved when buying a used 
car: one needs to check under the hood. Above mentioned ownership 
history and physical examination and possibly chemical analysis would 
be needed. 

2. Given the Gabor map is original, then how does that change our 
knowledge and perception of the use of Han'gŭl in the 18th century? 
Does it mean that commoners were using maps to travel. (I can hardly 
imagine that!) 

Frank Hoffmann 

Frank Hoffmann

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