1938 Government-General of Chōsen Map of Korea

朝鮮地圖 / [Map of Chōsen]. - Main View

1938 Government-General of Chōsen Map of Korea


Colonial Modernity in Korea...


朝鮮地圖 / [Map of Chōsen].
  1938 (dated)     x in (0 x 0 cm)     1 : 2500000


This is a scarce 1938 Showa 13 Government-General of Chōsen (朝鮮總督府) map of the thirteen provinces of colonial Korea. The map presents essential information, such as the location of important cities, government offices, waterways, existing and planned railways, and air and sea routes.
A Closer Look at the Map
This map includes information that would be important from a military standpoint, such as the placement of ports, lighthouses, airports, and fortifications, and a stamp indicating that the Jinhae Bay Fortress Headquarters (鎭海灣要塞司令部) has reviewed and approved the mapping of fortifications in that region (near Busan at the southeast corner of the Korean Peninsula). However, the map also notes the location of hot springs and famous historical sites. It is likely therefore that this was a map produced by the colonial government for general use in government offices throughout the colony. It is possible that a generic map was later modified to include the symbols and lines in red, which are mostly of a military or strategic nature. The verso lists the names of provinces, prefectures, municipalities, and administratively distinct islands (Jeju 濟州島 and Ulleungdo 鬱陵島).
Colonial Modernity in Korea
This map dates from the peak of the 'colonial modernity' era. Japan's colonial venture in Korea included compulsory public education in Japanese, sanitation and public health, infrastructure, urban planning, changes in manners and mores, and economic development. These policies were aimed at assimilating Koreans and Korea into Japan's empire and were coupled with extremely brutal repression of independence activists and insurgents. Particularly, once a full-scale war with China began in 1937, Japan aimed to rely on Korea to provide food, labor, and other resources for its war effort. The map shows how developed Korea's rail, sea, and air infrastructure had become by 1938, as well as plans for future expansion. Aside from the Japanese war effort, this infrastructure primarily benefitted Japanese conglomerates (zaibatsu) and smaller enterprises along with their investors, as well as a small coterie of urban elite Koreans.
Korea and Manchuria in Japan's Empire
As is evident here, travel between Korea and Japan was readily available by sea and air, but Korea was even more directly connected to Manchuria (Manchukuo at this point) and acted as a linchpin for Japanese expansion into northeast China and beyond. While Korea had been under strong Japanese influence by 1895 and was formally annexed in 1910, Japan had established a sphere of influence in Manchuria as early as 1905 and installed a nominally independent puppet government in 1932. As a vast, sparsely populated region that was tremendously rich in resources, Japan desperately needed laborers in Manchuria, and used both incentives and coercive measures to bring in worker-settlers from Japan and Korea. Due to improved transportation, as well as being dispossessed of their land by mostly Japanese landlords, many peasants from southern Korea migrated to northern Korea and Manchuria during the colonial period seeking economic opportunity. Manchuria became a wild, violent, multiethnic frontier akin to the American Old West, and was the theater where the future leaders of both North and South Korea rose from humble origins: Pak Chung-Hee as an officer in the Japanese Kwantung Army and Kim Il-Sung as a leader of a Communist guerrilla force.
Publication History and Census
This is the only known edition of this map, published on December 1, 1938, in Seoul (Keijo) by the Government-General of Chōsen (朝鮮總督府). The National Diet Library holds several maps bearing the same title and scale produced by the Government-General of Chōsen, including from 1935, 1939, and 1940, but none from 1938, suggesting that this was a regularly updated map published annually by the colonial government. The National Library of Korea holds a map bearing the same title and year, but the publisher is Taihira Shōten (態平商店, Kr. Taepyeong Sangjeom), not the Government-General.


Good. Wear on old fold lines. Notable waterstain.