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In Session: Humanity in Objects: Nurturing Self and the Environment in Late Chosŏn Korea
4: Between Imaginary and Real: Imaginary Travels and the Search for Place Through Maps in Late Chosŏn Korea
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Arizona State University, United States
This paper examines the use and popularity of cartography during the Late Chosŏn and the ways in which it enriched the Korean way of life. Over the past decade, scholars have increasingly emphasized the wide popularity of maps during the period, coining the title, “Chosŏn, a Country of Cartography.” The scholars have uncovered a wealth of information which tells us many riveting stories of how late Chosŏn Koreans perceived and used different maps and geographical texts. Focusing on global atlases, including Ch’ŏnhado (Map of the World Under Heaven) and Kunyu wanguo quantu (Complete Map of Myriad Countries of the Earth), I explore the multifarious functions these maps served in the growth and distribution of knowledge and ideas. By analyzing the differences in content and style among these maps, whose origins varied, I also construct a topographical map that illustrates the geographical imagination and desire felt by late Chosŏn Koreans. I suggest that maps lived for Koreans as a thriving form of storytelling and art, nourishing Koreans’ self-aware efforts to form and discover their own distinctiveness and explore worlds which were meaningful to them.