[KS] Translations by Fernand Scherzer: Joseon-ji

Brother Anthony ansonjae at sogang.ac.kr
Sun May 28 23:37:47 EDT 2023

I recently became aware of the two French translations from Chinese texts published by Fernand Scherzer in 1877 and 1886. The first is the record of the journey made by a Chinese ambassador sent by the Emperor of China to authoize the marriage of the young king of Joseon in 1866. The second is far more intriguing. Entitled 朝鮮志 Joseon-ji Record of Joseon, it comprises 8 chapters presenting multiple aspects of Joseon Korea:
1. Historical and Geographical Overview.
2. Description of the Capital.
3. Various Administrations.
4. Customs.
5. The Ancient Capitals.
6. Ancient Remains.
7. Mountains and Rivers.
8. Pavilions and Terraces.
The second chapter is in fact simply a list of the many halls in the palace Gyeongbok-gung. There is no indication of the name of the writer, who is clearly Korean, and the date is a major question, since the text seems to have been composed before the destruction caused by the Imjin War, of which there is no mention. The last 2 chapters offer notes on dozens of places in every Korean province, including details of the various names by which certain rivers are known at different stages, and a host of other information. At times the author comments on the extreme beauty of a particular location, he has obviously been there. He is able to indicate certain rocks in rivers where the water is so clear that the fish can be counted. This text gives a quite amazing spread of knowledge of many aspects of long-lost Joseon, rather like a tour guide. 

I have therefore translated this text into English, adding the Hangeul equivalent of each Chinese-character name and replacing Scherzers odd Chinese-based romanizations by the modern (RR) romanizations of the Hangeul.
I have also made a rough translation of the Ambassador's journey. Since I am old and do not have to publish or perish, I have made all this available through a single web page  http://anthony.sogang.ac.kr/Scherzer.html  where the sad story of Scherzer's short life can also be read. Thise impatient to read the Record in English can simply go to http://anthony.sogang.ac.kr/ScherzerEnglishFullText.pdf  

I am not aware of previous work on these texts and would be interested to know what has been published, esepcially regarding the date and authorship. Now I must return to my main task, translating and annotating the Histoire of the Korean Church by Charles Dallet and the multiple other texts related to Korea's Catholic history prior to his book.

Brother Anthony

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