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Choso˘n Korea in the Ryukoku Kangnido: Dating the Oldest Extant Korean Map of the World (15th Century)

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Abstract:

The date of the earliest extant Korean world map, entitled Honil kangni yo˘ktae kukto chi to (Map of Integrated Lands and Regions of Historical Countries and Capitals) and now in the Omiya Library, Ryukoku University Academic Information Center, Kyoto, Japan, is unknown. The Ryukoku Kangnido (as the map is commonly referred to), along with three other Korean world maps believed to have been made in Choso˘n Korea in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, is thought to have been derived from a now-lost world map made in Choso˘n Korea in 1402. Opinions on possible dates for the Ryukoku Kangnido have varied widely. In this paper, a revised date of between early 1479 and late 1485 is proposed on the basis of a study of the Korean place-names in the map and changes in the Korean civil and military administration they reflect. It is also suggested that, despite showing most of the rest of the world, the Korean officials who produced the Ryukoku Kangnido were less interested in portraying current images of neighbouring Asian countries than in presenting an up-to-date image of Choso˘n Korea.
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