A Dutch-Korean Encounter in the Seventeenth Century
In 1653 the VOC ship Sperwer smashed to pieces on the rocks off a remote Korean island. There were thirty-six survivors. The king of Korea decided that the foreigners should spend the rest of their lives in his hermit kingdom. The Dutchmen were provided with food and housing and a certain amount of freedom of movement, but had no choice but to accept their fate.
After 13 years eight of them managed to reach Japan in a small, barely seaworthy boat. Hendrik Hamel¹s report on their adventures soon became available to a wider public. For two centuries it was the most important source of information about the mysterious kingdom of Korea. It continues to fascinate as a report of a meeting between two completely different cultures. In 2003, 350 years after the event, the stranding of the Dutchmen is widely commemorated in Korea.
The present book includes Jean-Paul Buys’ modern English translation of a complete version of Hamel’s Journael. Additional chapters by Leonard Blussé, W.J. Boot, Vibeke Roeper and Boudewijn Walraven describe the world familiar to VOC employees and the strange world of the Far East which, much against their will, Hamel and his compatriots came to know so well.