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1850 Korean Map of Gyeongsang Province

[Gyeongsang]. - Main View

1850 Korean Map of Gyeongsang Province


Korea's southeast, including Busan.


  1850 (undated)     8.75 x 11 in (22.225 x 27.94 cm)     1 : 1200000


This is a unique c. 1850 map of Gyeongsang Province (慶尙道) published in Korea during the late Joseon period (1392 - 1897). It provides substantial geographic and administrative information on Gyeongsang, 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. Due to the area's strategic location and proximity to Japan (Gyeongsang was ground zero for Japanese samurai invasions in the 1590s), land (兵營) and naval (水營) forces are well represented here. 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). The Nakdong River and its tributaries are clearly indicated in blue while major roads appear as yellow lines connecting major settlements, including Daegu (大邱, the provincial capital), Ulsan (蔚山), Changwon (昌原), and Gimhae (金海). Busan (釜山) is written in a box off the southeastern coast of the Korean mainland, reflecting its maritime character. One curious feature of the map is a blank circle at center towards top-right near Andong (安東), Uiseong (義城), and Gunwi (軍威), which may have been the result of a town losing importance since an earlier edition of the map.
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.
Gyeongsang and Korea's Modernization
Being the closest port on the Korean Peninsula to Japan (it maintained a Japantown throughout the Joseon period), Busan was designated Korea's first open port in the Treaty of Ganghwa in 1876 and Japanese influence quickly became paramount there. Typical of Japan's role in Korea more broadly, intense political repression, dispossession of land, and cultural assimilation were combined with rapid modernization programs. Gyeongsang also was the last holdout of the Republic of Korea during the opening phase of the Korean War, the only region to never be captured by the Communists. Perhaps as a result, politicians from the region have dominated South Korean politics and Gyeongsang has been the recipient of significant investment from the central government in infrastructure and industrial projects, including the Gyeongbu Expressway linking Busan and Daegu with Seoul (later paralleled by a high-speed train) and the massive Hyundai automobile plants and shipyards in Ulsan.
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 Gyeongsang 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.


Very good. Some toning and imperfections in the margins, especially at bottom.