Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
Past & Present: 12
The Annals of the Chosun Dynasty
By Alan Timblick
President of The Seoul Times
The Chosun Wangjo Sillok — The Annals of the Chosun Dynasty

Our Past & Present episode (11) "Catholic Martyrs of Korea" wrote of the raid on gangwha Island in which French Admiral Pierre-Gustave Roze removed books from the royal library. But the nature of this "booty" and the ramifications of the removal deserve further explanation.

So here, in chapter 12 of our series, is a deeper and fuller account:-

Most of the great empires of the world used their power over the present to re-write the past, giving modern historians ample scope to analyze and revise with the benefit of hindsight.

But the Chosun kings did not have that power, and in fact their own rules of government expressly forbade them to exercise it. Thus it happened that for nearly five hundred years we can today read an accurate, objective account of the events of the reigns of 25 consecutive kings.

The Chosun Wangjo Sillok consists of 888 books divided into 1,893 chapters. It covers the years 1392-1863 and excludes only the reigns of the last two kings, since they died during Japanese rule and so the objectivity of the records of that time is not guaranteed.

The writers were privileged court officials whose sole job was to attend all meetings as observers and scribes. The subjects covered range from politics to the weather, scholarship to foreign relations, music to astronomy.

Inevitably during such a long period some records were destroyed by fire, flood or martial conflict, but each time they were restored, made possible by the use of either wooden or metal moveable printing type.

The King was strictly forbidden to see the records and it was onlyafter his death that a special commission was established to finalise the accounts and preserve them. Copies were kept in different and remote secret locations to ensure their survival.

Equally remarkable has been the survival of the diaries, the Seungjeongwon Ilgi of a large part of the Chosun Dynasty period. These daily records of minute and even mundane happenings cover 288 years, from the 16th King, Injo until the last and 27th King, Sunjong.

It was these records which acted as source documents for the loftier annals of the Wangjo Sillok. They are the equivalent of the former US President Richard Nixon recorded tapes of conversations in the Rose Office of the White House.

The size and scope of the daily diaries is quite amazing, the surviving records containing more than 240 million characters, compared with the 54 milion of the Wangjo Sillok.

The intention of keeping such records probably did not include making them available for universal public scrutiny into posterity, but the National Institute of Korean History has completed a major project to make the complete set available in Hangeul and a CD-ROM version is available to anyone today.

Related Articles
    Joseph J. Day MBE Dies of Cancer in Seoul
    "S. Korea Not Backward But President Is!"
    bRexit: a Denial of History
    An Open Letter to Mayor Park Won-Soon!
    Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon Meets Foreigners
    Town Meetings for Foreign Residents of Seoul
    Protection of Diplomats
    "Valentine's Day"
    The Solution to Learning English
    Hangeul: A Reassessment
    King Sejong and Hangeul
    War Becomes Real in Clint Eastwood's True ...
    An Ode to the People of Korea
    "The Unbroken"
    Strong Won or Weak Dollar?
    Baloons, Drones, Satire, and Free Speech
    "International Market (Ode to My Father)," ...
    Terror as Tool of Censorship
    A Very Happy New Year 2015!
    None of My Business
    The Catholic Martyrs of Korea
    Meaningless Slogans
    Bridges over the Han River: A Tale of Two ...
    Democracy in Action in Seoul
    An Open Letter to Administrator of Cultural ...
    Jeongneung Royal Tomb
    Seo Jai Pil, Founder of “The Independent”
    WTO Head Proud of Bali Agreement
    Korean "Oxbridge" Forum Inaugurated in Seoul
    The Waters of Seoul -- Han River
    "How We Will Remember You"
    Kim Gu, Independence Fighter
    Korean Local Government Has Matured, ...
    Seoul Subway Forces Senior Expats to Subsidize ...
    Syngman Rhee, 1st President of Republic of ...
    Ernest Bethell -- Champion of a Free Press
    Homer Hulbert – A Foreign Korean Patriot
    Korea's Own "Mini Winter Olympics"
    Happy "Valentine's Day"
    Cheongwadae -- A Blue-Hued Power House
    Bangkok Shutdown? Hardly!
    US Vice President Biden Speaks in Seoul
    The Annals of Kings and Presidents
    Cultural Values in Korea
    Of Dukes and Hazard
    State Visit -- Tripping the Light Fantastic
    Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon Awards Honorary ...

Alan Timblick serves as President of The Seoul Times. He grew up in England, graduated from Oxford University, and has lived in Seoul for over three decades. A former banker, he also worked for the Korean government as head of Invest Korea and for Seoul City as head of the Seoul Global Center.






The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange