Hendrick Hamel (1630 – 1692) was a Dutch sailor, who would be the first Westerner to provide a first hand account of Joseon Korea. In 1650 he sailed to the Dutch East Indies to gain employ as a bookkeeper with the Dutch East India Company. In 1653, en route to Japan aboard the ship 'De Sperwer' (Sparrowhawk) he and thirty-five other crewmates survived a deadly shipwreck on Jeju Island in South Korea: nearly half the complement of the ship's crew were killed, including the Captain. The survivors remained in custody on Jeju for a year before they were taken to Seoul, the capital. There they were received by King Hyojong (r. 1649 to 1659). Although Hamel and his crewmates were forbidden from ever leaving Korea (as per custom) they were allowed relative freedom of movement within Korea. In September 1666, after thirteen years in Korea, Hamel and seven of his crewmates managed to escape to Japan and the Dutch trade mission at Dejima. During Hamel's time in Dejima he wrote his account of his captivity - not properly a travel diary, so much as a report to the company. Hamel would continue to travel in the East Indies until 1670, but his report appears to have been sent back to the Netherlands with returning crewmates, since several versions of it were published there in 1668, two years before Hamel's return.

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