Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inner Caveman

Recently I've been trying to find books that detail early explorations of different parts of the world (other than Africa). A lot of this exploration was obviously done by non-English speaking persons and so it has been a bit tough to find books written in English about these adventurers. Yesterday morning I completed the first such book, The Dutch Come to Korea by Gari Ledyard. It told the story of Hendrick Hamel, a Dutch trader, who along with thirty-five others was shipwrecked off the coast of Korea in 1653 on their way to Japan. They were kept in Korea for thirteen years. While there they lived off the sale of the trade goods in their boat and a stipend given to them by the king. They also worked as soldiers and fisherman. Eventually eight of them escaped to Japan aboard a small boat they had managed to purchase. While in Japan they convinced the Shogun to petition for the release the other survivors (at this point only eight more were living). All eventually returned to Holland. On his way back home Hamel wrote a small book about his experience. Ledyard's account, written in 1971, is the only English book on the subject I was able to find. He did a pretty good job of telling the facts and pointing out the inconsistencies. His research turned up an amazing amount of references to the survivors in the Korean, Japanese and Dutch Colonial archives. The book's notes include the Hamel journal in its entirety. My only wishes are that it used a newer, more modern translation of the journal and that Ledyard took the time to annotate the journal's description of the culture of Korea.

My grandparents and sister's family have had their power restored. My folks are still without it.

Found: 1 dime (at Sovereign Bank)


1800blogger said...

Could you please contact ken@1800blogger.com

PostalGrunt said...

Check out the Peabody Museum in Salem, MA for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese trade goods and history with Salem merchants and sea captains. Wear comfortable shoes.

kestrelia said...

I've been there before, but it definitely sounds like a good idea to check the place out again. I'd also like to see the whaling museum in New Bedford sometime soon. Happy Holidays!