Master Eibokken on Korea and the Korean Language:
Supplementary Remarks to Hamel's Narrative  1)

Frits Vos

The Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society is to be commended for its publication of Gari Ledyard's the Dutch Come to Korea as Number 3 of its Monograph Series in 1971. The book gives an excellent and richly annotated description of the sojourn of Hendrick Hamel and his companions-in-distress in Korea (1653 1666/'68). Dr. Ledyards's main contribution to our knowledge of the adventures of the Dutch is his translation and astute interpretation of a large number of Korean and Japanese official and unofficial sources, some of which had already been published and commented upon by Korean and Japanese scholars, but which have been practically unknown in the West until now. In his preface Dr. Ledyard writes that he "was rather surprised to find that [Hoetink's splendid edition of Hamel's Narrative of the Shipwreck and Description of the Kingdom of Corea] consisting of a long and detailed introduction and many documentary appendices, in addition to the previously unpublished text of the manuscript version of Hamel's account has been virtually unmentioned and certainly unused by any Western author writing in English." 

Although Ledyard often refers to Hoetink's text and notes, he has contented himself with appending the so-called Churchill version of Hamel's Narrative to his otherwise admirable study. Dutch publishers of Hamel's Narrative had already changed the order of the original and/or made sensational additions of their own invention; these mutilations of the text have indiscriminately been adopted in the French, German and English translations. The text has usually been divided into two parts: 1. the account of the experiences and adventures of the castaways, and 2. the description of the Kingdom of Corea. The most notable and ridiculous addition is that concerning the existence of crocodiles and the like in Korea: " We never saw any Elephant's there, but Alligators or Crocodiles of several Sizes, which keep in the Rivers. Their Back is Musket proof, but the skin of their Belly is very soft. Some of them are 18 or 20 Ells Long, their Head large, the Snout like a Hog. The Mouth and Throat from Ear to Ear " the Eye sharp but very small, the teeth white and strong, plac'd like the teeth of a comb.... The Coresians often told us, that three Children were once found in the Belly of one of these Crocodils." An annotated English translation of Hamel's original text as edited by Hoetink remains an important desideratum for all Koreanologists unacquainted with [17th century] Dutch. Hamel was not alone in introducing 17th century Korea to Occidental readers. Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717) provides us with much interesting information about that country in his Noord en Oost Tartaryen, the second edition of which is most useful for our purpose. Witsen, whose motto was Labor omnia vincit, was the scion of a prominent and wealthy family in Amsterdam. He studied law, philology, mathematics and astronomy at Leyden University where he took his L.L.D. in 1664. He also applied himself to the study of geography, cartography and hydraulic engineering. He was an able etcher and became a specialist in shipbuilding. In 1697 98 he taught this art to Czar Peter the Great who was then studying in the Netherlands. Between 1682 and 1705 he was thirteen times mayor of Amsterdam; he represented that city nearly continuously in the States of Holland and the States General of the Netherlands. As a young man he had also served his country as a diplomat in Moscow." For his description of Korea Witsen made use of the following sources: Martini , Martino ( * ), Novus atlas sinensis, Amsterdam 1655; Montanus , Arnoldus, Gedenkwaerdige Gezantschappen aen de Kaisaren van Japan (Memorable Envoys to the Emperors, i.e. ShOgun, of Japan), Amsterdam 1669; a report of a court journey (Nagasaki-Edo) made by the Dutch in 1637; a description of Korea by a "certain Slavonic (i.e. Russian) author"; information provided by Anreas Cleyer, chief merchant at Dejima in 1683 and 1686; "a" report from Japan. Eye-witness information was furnished by Benedictus Klerk and Master Mattheus Eibokken , two of Hamel's companions-in-distress. Benedictus Klerk of Rotterdam was a twelve-year-old ship's boy when he arrived in Korea. The larger part of his information concerns whaling; some of his remarks about Korean religion and customs have been translated in the notes accompanying this article. Mattheus Eibokken of Enckhuijsen (= Enkhuizen), between 1500 and the middle of the 17th century one of the most important harbours on the Zuyder Zee, was a junior (third) surgeon on the ill- fated De Sperwer and 18 or 19 years old when he arrived in Korea. Ship's surgeons in that period actually combined the functions of physician and barber, and were especially expert at applying leeches. Among the survivors of the shipwreck he was considered as a man of some importance, for on October 19, 1653, he was together with Hendrick Janse (chief pilot) and Hendrick Hamel (secretary/accountant) invited to visit the Prefect of Cheju -do at his residence. There they met Jan Janse Weltevree who had arrived in Korea in 1627 and who was to act as an interpreter and guide for his fellow countrymen until March 1656. Eibokken is mentioned once more in Hamel's journal; from the passage concerned it becomes clear that he was one of the five Dutchmen living at Sunch'On since February 1663. He was one of the eight captives who escaped from Korea on September 4, 1666, and arrived at Nagasaki nine days later. On July 20, 1668, he and six of his comrades arrived in Amsterdam. On August 13 of the same year the Heeren XVII, i.e. the Directors of the East India Company, decided to pay him a gratuity of 150 (!) guilders in compensation for the hardships suffered in Korea. Further details about his life are unknown, but if we consider the fact that he acted as Witsen's informant, either when he was nearly sixty years old or even later, he must have been a man of remarkable intelligence and blessed with a retentive memory. One might suppose that he had kept a diary or had prepared a list of' words during his stay in Korea, but in that case some grave lapses in his vocabulary would remain unexplained. Witsen's presentation of Eibokken 's information is rather confused and unsystematic; his use of verbal tenses is very curious. In my translation I have 'sliced' his often very lengthy sentences and limited his use of capitals, but have maintained the italics. Witsen's narrative follows: 

* * * *

Mattheus Eibokken , surgeon, likewise one of those who became captives on Korea in the year 1653, has orally reported [the following] to me. It is practically impossible to travel from Korea to Tartarye or Niuche because of the height of the mountains and the wildness of the land. Very few people are living there, and a profusion of tigers, brown bears and wolves renders the passage very dangerous. Snow always covers the mountains there. The root Nisi or Ginseng grows most luxuriantly in that desert. From there it is transported under great danger to the large cities of Korea and also across the sea to Japan and Sina. Those roots which are whitest are considered fresh. They are not found in the southern part of the country. [The plant], has shining leaves. That there exists a passage from Tartary into Korea may be clearly demonstrated by the fact that, during his (= Eibokken's) sojourn, the Emperor of Sina presented the King of Korea with six horses which were sent by land from Niuche to Korea. He himself had seen them arrive; they were speckled like the skin of a tiger with yellow and black dots on a white ground. Their mane and tail were white, hanging down to the ground. The Tartars are called Thartse by the Koreans, or in the Chinese way Tata. The east coast of Korea extends between north and south; more correctly, however, it extends to the north-east. Consequently the people there think that the ocean is located in the north-east where there are always heavy storms and the waves are restless, as in the Spanish Sea. How far Tartary extends to the north is unknown to them, however, since they do not travel far, either by land or by sea - this being forbidden to the inhabitants [of Korea]. Likewise, no foreign vessels arrive on the east coast except Japanese ones, and those only at a place where they have a settlement allotted to them. The passage by land from Tartary is not only difficult, as mentioned before, but also prohibited. As there are a great many whales in the neighbouring north eastern sea, they put out to sea though not far in order to catch these. They know how to kill them with very long harpoons of the same type as those of Japan. Although they rarely sail to Japan, they know in which direction and at what distance it is located. Without this knowledge which the captive Dutchmen obtained from them they would never have been able to steer their course for Japan, to which country they escaped, for they had no map and none of them had ever been there. From this one may conclude that, if the Koreans say that Tartary extends to the north or rather to the north-east, although they do not know how far, this is like their other pronouncement that Jeso is an island separated from the Tartarian coast. The Netherlanders found a Dutch harpoon sticking out of a whale which floated ashore as a carcass. It could be clearly distinguish- cf from a Korean or Japanese harpoon, as the Dutch harpoons are hardly a third of the size of the Korean or Japanese ones. The natives said that they frequently discovered such harpoons in whales which they obtained through their being washed ashore. This one had come floating as a carcass, and [the harpoon] was bent; I was told that it often happens that harpoons become bent when they are shot at the fish. It may, nay, it must be, that this fish, having been harpooned in Greenland, yet swam so far away, was finally washed ashore, and died. The sea there has strong tidal currents and the water is greenish as it is usually coloured in an ocean. The above-mentioned sailor, who has wandered for so many years in Korea and who frequently went whaling near Greenland and around Nova Sembla , is of the opinion that there is a passage from there to Jeso, but he thinks that navigation in that direction is impracticable because of the amount of ice and for other reasons. And as for whales, it seems that they escape from Greenland in wintertime because of the too severe cold to the coasts of Jeso, Korea, Japan and surrounding [regions]. For it is then that they are most present there: when they have disappeared from Greenland, but are being shot in large numbers by the Japanese with their long harpoons. The northern and eastern coasts of Korea are very fine and suitable to be called at: until far above, or north of the Great Wall, so that it would be good to sail there. The above-mentioned person holds the opinion that one could very easily sail between Korea and Japan, both straight up along the Tartarian coast as well as in the direction of the Isles of Jeso. Then it would not be necessary to direct one's course far towards the east of Japan as the Dutch did in the year 1641. To the north of Korea's sea-coast simple fishermen dwell; inland there are few people. The Koreans have no relations with the Northern Tartars and say about them that they are meat-eaters, milk-drinkers and savages. In the north of Korea, by the border with Tartary, one finds dreadful snow-clad mountains; in that region as well as on the sea at the same latitude it is always foggy and tempestuous. Although the countries border upon each other, the Tartars, too, seldom or never come to Korea. The roofs of the houses of persons of high rank consist of both [regular] tiles and tiles baked from porcelain-clay of different colours, hence presenting a pleasant sight. The ordinary houses are straw- thatched. One may come across roof-trusses of twenty feet in length. There is a custom that military men in the service of the King wear small wooden boards on their chest, on which their name and function are inscribed. As the Tartar Emperor has such great authority now, they are less afraid of the Japanese. The soil is everywhere cultivated. From wheat and rice good beverages are made, comparable in taste to Spanish wine. The horsemen carry bow and arrows, but the foot- soldiers use muskets. There are quite a number of islands off the mainland; on some of them tobacco is cultivated, on others horses are raised for breeding. Porcelain is exported in such quantities and so cheaply that much of it is exported to Japan. The silks which are woven there are very beautiful. The technique of drawing up water from a lower place to a high- er one for irrigation is unknown to them. Consequently they are even less able to exploit metal-mines. Diamonds are not found there, but occasionally one comes across them and they are highly valued. [The Koreans] still wear long hair as the Chinese of old were wont to do. The walls of the palaces and the houses of persons of high rank are made of brick. The same applies to the fortresses and the ramparts of the cities, but they are very weakly and miserably constructed, so that they would very easily be smashed by shooting at them. One sees there fields entirely occupied by mulberry-trees for the production of silk. If the master of a house acts against the orders of the King or commits some crime or other, all the members of his household must die together with him. Therefore, when the pilot, the leader of the captive Dutchmen, trying to escape with the Tartar envoy, was beheaded, all the others were threatened with death. Temples of two or three storeys, entirely built with stones, are found there. In Korea junks with two decks and twenty or twenty-four oars are built. Each oar is occupied by five or six men; they are manned with 200 or 300 hands, both soldiers and oarsmen. [The junks are] mounted with countless small pieces of iron, and [armed with] a large number of firearms. The Koreans wear peaked hats. They eat with spoons as well as chopsticks. 

It is remarkable how cold it can be in that country, so that at a latitude of 40 the rivers are solidly frozen every year and it is just as cold there as in our country. The mountains are always covered with snow. Perhaps this cold is brought about by the strongly nitrous character of the soil. Grapes are growing there, but they rarely ripen, and wine is not made from them. Pruning trees is not a custom there, and they do not know how to cultivate fruit. There is a certain fruit called canoen which is very tasty when dried and resembles a fig. Mattheus Eibokken has reported to me that they have a pagan faith in that country, partly corresponding with that of Sina. However, nobody is forced in matters of religion and everybody may believe as he wishes. [The Koreans] tolerated his and the other Dutch captives' mockery of the idols. The priests there do not eat what has received life, and they have no intercourse with women on pain of being beaten heavily on the shins, nay even being punished by death as has happened more than once. When there is a war the monks , too, are obliged to take the field and to do duty. They sacrifice many pigs and other cattle to the devil (although recently the King has ordered the demolition of the majority of the temples dedicated to the devil, for which reason he is not so much worshipped or respected anymore), and [afterwards] they eat the offerings. Sacrifices are in great vogue with them; if somebody is going to travel, sacrifices are made in the hope of a good journey. The same happens when somebody is ill. The priests have their heads shorn bald. The number of monks living in the monasteries is almost countless. Every year the King visits the tomb of his ancestors in order to sacrifice there; and to give a feast in honour of, and for the well-being of those in the other world. [Eibokken was able to tell me about this,] because he had accompanied the King himself as far as the burial-place which is several hundred years old. It is located six or eight miles outside the capital in a hollowed-out mountain which one enters through iron doors. Corpses are placed in coffins of iron or tin. They are embalmed in such a way that they are preserved without decay for some hundreds of years as the dead bodies of the Kings have been preserved in the above-mentioned mountain. When a King or Queen is entombed a beautiful male and female slave are left behind alive in the vault. Before closing the iron doors they leave some provisions for them, but when these are eaten they must die in order to serve their master or mistress in the other life. [On the occasion of the visit to his ancestors] 15.000 soldiers attended the King, among them a Dutchman as a body-guard . As these people are very swift-footed and are able, with shouldered muskets, to keep pace with a horse , our man had great difficulty in following them. Firelocks are unknown to them, for they use only matchlocks They also employ leather guns, on the inside mounted with copper plates of a gauge of half a finger; the leather is two, four or five inches thick and consists of many layers. These guns are put on horses, two on one horse, and are carried in the rear of the army. Their length is about one fathom, and rather large bullets can be fired from them. The sterns of their ships are flat and slant, in the same way as their prows do, somewhat over the water. While they are sailing they also use oars; they are unable to cope with foreign guns. Without special leave they neither dare nor may sail far out of sight from the mainland neither are they suitable [for such undertakings]. They are very lightly built, hardly any iron is used, the timber being dovetailed and the anchors made of wood. Most of their navigation is directed towards Sina. Gunpowder as well as the art of printing have been known to them so they say for more than 1.000 years. The same applies to the compass, although it looks different from the one in our country, for they merely use a small bit of wood, sharp in front and blunt behind. Thrown into a tub with water the sharp tip points to the north; the magnetic force is probably hidden inside it. They distinguish between eight points of the compass. The compass may also consist of two bits of wood joined crosswise; the tip which points to the north protrudes somewhat. Eibokken was of the opinion that Korea extended further to the north than is shown in our maps as is also stated by the Korean people. Up to the northeast there would be an ocean with waves as savage as those of the Spanish Sea. To the north or northeast [of Korea] there must therefore be a sea which is difficult to navigate. The River Jalo, also called Kango, separating Sina from Korea, is full of rocks and, at times, thickly frozen over as was the case when the Tartars crossed it and occupied the country, for that was very difficult by land over the practically impassable mountains. They are not well-acquainted with glass; their windows are covered with oil-paper. When objects made of glass like rummers or small bottles, imported in Japan by the Netherlanders, were brought over from Japan they were highly valued. It was unbelievable to them that in our country window-panes were made of glass. It is a custom there to sing of all kinds of events in ballads and therefore every day one hears songs about the deeds of heroes of ancient and recent times. Their printed books are also full of these. There are idols in Korea nearly as big as whole houses in this country. It is noteworthy that in almost all their idolatrous temples one finds three statues placed side by side. They have the same shape and ornamentation, but the middle one is always the biggest. From this Master Eibokken deduced that some adumbration of the Holy Trinity was hidden here. When there is an eclipse the common people think that the moon is struggling with some kind of snake. They have an artificially made snake at hand and, while the eclipse continues, they make all kinds of sounds and noises with drums, horns and bassoons until the eclipse is over. Then they say that the snake has been subdued and they chop up their own clay snake in revenge and anger against the snake in heaven that had the insolence to fight against the moon. Since they have not reached the same perfection in mathematics as the Europeans, it is, however, marvellous that they are able to calculate the time of an eclipse. There are many kinds of fruit in Korea, most of them known in our country as well as many others, such as nuts, chestnuts, cherries, morelloes, quinces, pomegranates, rice, oats, wheat, beans, salad, and various tuberous plants. It is said that there is much ambergris to be found. [Further there is] a lot of lesser gray mullet in the sea, and there are lots of poultry, pheasants and tortoises on land. 

They do not use coins, but pay in small ingots according to weight. 

These people possess a vague knowledge of the Flood. They estimate the world to be many thousands of years old and [hold the belief] that in due time this world will turn into a renewed or new world just as they assert that there are many worlds to come and [many that] have been. By way of punishment people in Korea were beaten to death on the shins. There is an abundance of cattle, but they hardly partake of butter and cheese, and even less of milk, saying that this is the blood of animals. Dogs with the exception of red ones as well as horses are eaten by them, as they judge these [animals] to have very tasty meat. They know how to prepare excellent salt from sea-water. The Netherlands captives salted herring with it; although it could have been done by them, they were not knowledgeable about [this process]. The salt water is boiled for this purpose, but they do not have saltpans as in Portugal and elsewhere. These people are very good-natured. God so they say is good, but they must remain friends with the devil, that he shall not harm them. When they styled the Dutch they called them 'men from the south, and in the beginning they believed that [the Dutch] could live under water. As their knowledge is limited to Japan, Sina and their neighbour Tartarye, they have trifling thoughts about those who are living farther away, e.g. that there are people without heads and people with eyes in their chests. [They also think] that there are regions occupied only by women who, when they become voluptuous, spread their legs in the direction of the south wind which impregnates them by blowing in between, and more of such things. The King was so rarely seen that some people living somewhat our of the way believed that he was of a superhuman nature such it appeared to us and therefore we queried them. They believe that the less the King goes out and is seen by the people the more fruitful the year will be. No dog may run in the streets where he appears. They believe in the resurrection of the dead and the possession of a soul which will experience good or evil according to this life. All foreigners are refused admittance to this country with the exception of the Japanese who as has been mentioned before have a settlement for their own use in the City of Potisaen. They are very much afraid of sick people; they often bring them out into the fields and leave them alone in hovels, so that there is hardly anybody who tends and treats them. The people there become very old: Eibokken had known many of more than 112 years; they live in a very frugal way. There are rather good surgeons among them. They do not know that the world is round, and think that the sun goes to rest in the sea at night. Very able artisans are to be found there. The women, too, are skilful at embroidery; he (Eibokken) had seen entire battles embroidered on silk. It is a custom there to have rooms, under the floor of which there is a vault of one foot in height. Through this [vault] they apply warmth to the entire room by means of the smoke from the fire in stoves standing outside. The King also has rooms covered with copper plates which are used to torture, nay, even to kill people. They pay much attention to soothsayings, and good and bad omens. He (Eibokken) had seen one of the King's horses killed because it had hesitated when leaving the gate [of the palace] with the King on its back. This was considered to be an ill omen and [the horse was killed] to appease and prevent any evil. He had seen gold- and silver -mines there as well as copper-, tin - and iron -mines. There are lots of silver which special people have been allowed to mine, since the King levies taxes on it. The copper there is very lustrous and has a clear tone. He had seen gold- veins in mines. He says that he even obtained some gold-dust from the bottom of some rivers by diving. Yet the gold-mines were not so much exploited as those of silver and other metals. He was unaware of the reason for this. The Koreans are extremely afraid of the Tartars and the Japanese, because they are very faint-hearted to such an extent that when a battle or fight is going to take place some hundreds hang themselves out of fear on the day before. Christianity has not yet found acceptance there. In their temples he had seen large paintings, on one side of which sensual enjoyments of all sorts were depicted, [while] the other side [represented] tortures of all sorts. In this way they express [their belief] that good and evil people would reap the fruits of their merits in the other life. There is a royal prison there; important persons who are imprisoned there seldom come out again. The reason for this is that there is an executioner living inside who is also not allowed to go out often. He is ordered to dispatch this one or that one at the King's pleasure. Justice is severely administered there, and it is very safe to travel through the country, as the people are modest, gentle, good-natured, compassionate and polite. Those who had sold to the captive Netherlanders the vessel with which they escaped by sea to Japan, were put to death; so severe is the law there. In this country there are emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones which are unknown here. Ladies of distinction wear veils, and conceal themselves from unknown men. The Island of Tussima, also called Teimatte, located between Japan and Korea, belonged formerly to Korea, but by war and treaty it remains under the Japanese. Korea is very populous and perhaps the King could call five times 100,000 men to the colours. The soldiers there receive no pay, as the inhabitants have to do duty gratis and for nothing. The cities are not too well fortified. The capital is easily as large as Amsterdam. The King may not be looked in the face by the common inhabitants. When he comes near everybody must conceal his face or turn around. After their death priests are cremated in a thick coffin [placed] under a wood-stack, but the hermits are buried like other people. The ashes and burnt bones are not collected; they remain lying in the fields unnoticed. These priests may abandon their profession and then marry. The King has the power of life and death over his people. Their customs resemble those of Sina in many respects. He who comes to dine with them must carry the remains of the food home with him. There are beautiful horses in Korea and the people sit astride them as in our country, i.e. not in the manner of the Tartars. They let them run wild on some islands for breeding. The Koreans are good at writing. It is told that a Tartar envoy visiting the Court asked by what means the Kingdom was protected and ruled, and that the King replied: "By the brush." Thereupon the Tartar took an arrow from his quiver and said: "Herewith we protect and rule our country." Saltpetre is produced there in abundance, and they make good gunpowder. This is moulded into big hard lumps. When it is going to be used these are reduced to fine dust like flour, for grains of powder are unknown to them. Quicksilver is also found there. Soy is much used there. It is prepared from horse-beans which are well cooked, dried, kneaded into lumps, and pickled with salt in a pot or tub, layer upon layer. Some water is added to it and then it is left to putrefy and soak for some time, whereupon the heavy parts sink to the bottom. After these thick or turbid parts have been lifted out with little baskets the rest is the Soy. In the same way the beverage sakki is made from coarsely ground wheat mixed with cooked rice, the bulk [of the mixture] consisting of rice. This likewise having been left to ferment for several days and being putrid, the pure and filtered juice is the sakki. The Koreans are very clean and tidy. When they make water they do so squatting. It is generally their habit to marry only once, but when a wife dies they take a concubine; the majority of the women there may be taken as such. For the sake of fortification most of their cities are located on high mountains surrounded by walls. The east coast of Korea is subject to many storms, thunderstorms and fog. At a latitude of 43 degrees it is as cold there as in the Netherlands at 52 degrees. Around the southern [part of the country] are the best seaports. There are many male and female slaves, but they are all of their own nationality. Very much tea is produced there. They drink it in powdered form and mixed with hot water, so that the whole [concoction] is turbid. The bigwigs let some of their slaves (of which some of them keep a few hundreds) learn the healing art, but if the gentleman in question comes to die, the surgeon rarely survives him for long. Along their beaches there are everywhere watch-towers standing in groups of four. If a fire is lighted on the first one, this means small alarm, but in case the danger becomes greater the fires on the second, third and fourth towers are lighted. The villages in that country are countless. Gripping somebody by the hair is [considered] quite dastardly and contemptible. They write with brushes like the Chinese [do]. Porcelain is made very well there, and especially bowls of rugged appearance, having been gilt as per order, are highly valued and in great demand in Japan. As to delicacy [Korean porcelain] surpasses that of Japan. It is mostly made by women. They can make a red beverage, as tasty as wine, which makes one tipsy, with which the King once regaled the Netherlanders at his Court The Emperor [sic!] often trains his soldiers and has them fight against each other pretending that one part are Koreans and the other Japanese. The Japanese, however, are generally inferior and, after a lengthy battle, they feign to flee. During the time he was a body-guard Master Eibokken once saw twice 40,000 men fighting each other in such a manner. The King often takes counsel with his eunuchs. These wear hairnets consisting of golden strings and golden rings; nobody else wears such golden strings. The larger part of the religious service of the Papists in the monasteries consists of sacrifices. A constant stream of citizens as well as countrymen come there with gifts such as cloth, silk, rice, food, etc., to be sacrificed on their behalf. The sounds of the language of Korea have nothing in common with the Chinese. This was Master Eibokken's opinion, because he spoke the Korean language very well, but was not understood by the Chinese at Batavia. Yet they can read each other's writing. They possess more than one system or writing. Their Oonjek is comparable to our running hand: all letters are attached to each other. This [kind of writing] is used by the common man. The other syllables [sic] are the same as those of Sina. The Court of the King is about the size of the Town of Alkmaer. It is surrounded by a wall of stones layed in clay and crowned with indentations resembling cockscombs. The city-walls are weak; they are not accustomed to fortify them with guns. Inside the Court there is a multitude of residences, both big and small, as well as pleasure grounds. Here his consort, and concubines also dwell, for he like all the people possesses only one real wife. This Court is situated inside the capital Tijozian or Sior . At the time of Master Eibokken's [sojourn] the King of Korea was a large-limbed and strong man, so that it was said that he could draw a bow by holding the string under his chin and pushing away the bow itself with one hand. The Koreans of high rank are in the habit of having small pouches of poison attached to their girdles. If in their opinion necessity requires to do so, they can at once do away with themselves. In this country much silk is produced, but no foreigners buy it, for which reason it is very cheap. But by way of Sussima or Tussima there is now some trade with the Japanese, which is annoying to the Netherlands silk-trade in Japan.

This article is copyrighted and published in the "Transactions, Volume L 1975" of the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS), reprinted in "Hamel's Journal" (1998) by Jean Paul Buys, also published by the RAS, and published on the web with their permission.


Previous page Next page
You are visitor

since August 14, 2002