1850 Korean Map of Chungcheong Province, Korea

忠清道 / [Chungcheong Province]. - Main View

1850 Korean Map of Chungcheong Province, Korea


Korea's rural heartland.


忠清道 / [Chungcheong Province].
  1850 (undated)     11.25 x 13.5 in (28.575 x 34.29 cm)     1 : 500000


This is a unique c. 1850 map of Chungcheong Province (忠清道) published in Korea during the late Joseon period (1392 – 1897). It provides substantial geographic and administrative information on Chungcheong, one of the eight traditional provinces of Joseon.
A Closer Look
This map was produced using a combination of engraved woodblock printing and hand-coloring. The names of towns, cities, and other administrative units are either circled or written in a box. Those that are circled include a number (using the traditional Chinese system 一, 二, 三, and so on) followed by a character (府, 守, 監, 令, 營, 官) referring to the presence of government offices and/or garrisons.

The names of mountains, islands, and sub-provincial administrative units are also noted. Text in the margins indicates what features are located in those directions (waterways, mountains, neighboring provinces), including the distances to Gyeonggi and Gangwon, the centermost provinces of Korea that included Seoul (then Hanseong or Hanyang).

Major rivers, especially the Geum River at bottom, are clearly designated in blue while roads appear as black lines connecting major settlements, including the provincial capital at Gongju (公州), Cheongju (清州), and Cheonan (天安). Some cities and towns are circled in red, which may indicate the presence of officials (civil or military) of a certain rank. Large characters meaning 'root' (氐) and 'legs' (奎) appear towards left and bottom, respectively, corresponding to the Twenty-Eight Mansions (二十八宿) zodiac system, though their exact purpose here is unclear.

Chungcheong was historically important primarily as an agricultural region, though it did have significant maritime and coastal defense outposts such as Seosan (瑞山) and Taean (泰安), towards top-left. The area has undergone tremendous changes in the past century, as Japanese colonialism, warfare, and modernization efforts have reshaped the landscape. In recent decades, the South Korean government has relocated many offices to Daejeon and the new planned capital city of Sejong (both east of Gongju) in an effort to relieve property costs in Seoul, secure the government in the case of a war with North Korea, and promote development in the country's rural areas.
Late Joseon Korea
This map most likely dates from the latter period of the Joseon Dynasty (see discussion below), a period when Korea encountered one crisis after another. Famines, uprisings, factional infighting at the court and among officials, and foreign invasions struck in succession or simultaneously. Capable governance and limited reforms allowed Joseon to stave off some of these threats, even defeating back-to-back French and American military expeditions in 1866. But Korea's isolationist policies and lack of more thoroughgoing reform left it vulnerable, and Japan gradually expanded its economic, political, and military influence until Korea became a virtual colony and then was annexed outright in 1910.
Publication History and Census
The exact provenance of this map is unclear. The phrase Yeojido (or in Chinese Yu ditu, 輿地圖), which could be translated as 'atlas,' was common in the title of maps and map collections at least since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th-14th centuries. There are several works published in Korea bearing the title Yeojido dating from the 17th to the late 19th century that contain maps resembling this one. Often these collections contained maps of China, Japan, and other East Asian territories (usually under the title 大東輿地圖 or 天下輿地圖). These collections, very rare themselves, are held by the Library of Congress, Harvard University, the National Library of Korea, and the Nichibunken (International Research Center for Japanese Studies).

This map most closely resembles those in two collections held by Harvard University: the first, titled World Atlas (天下輿地圖, Cheonha Yeojido, OCLC 1252343134) was published in the early 18th century, and the second, titled Atlas of Korea (韓國輿地圖, Hanguk Yeojido, OCLC 37161862), was published in 1893 by Kim Hong-gyu (金鴻圭, 김홍규). However, the present map differs somewhat from the maps of Chungcheong in those works in several respects, including the coloration, the elaboration of mountains and waterways, and other similar details. While it could date to as early as the 17th century, given the relative high level of elaboration, it more likely was produced at some point in the early-mid 19th century. Some writing is evident in the white spaces here, which is not on the verso but has bled through from another page. Unfortunately, this text is illegible, lending no help in identifying the map.


Good. Some wear along centerfold. Faint ink in white spaces has bled through from another page.