external image Old_Korean_Map.jpg
Click on the map to go to the web page, where an enlarged detail view is available.

by Prof. Gari Keith Ledyard
"From the late Koryo dynasty to the last years of the Chosŏn dynasty, Korea had a rich cartographic history, producing thousands of beautiful national maps using a wide range of cartographic methods and styles. For their abundant notes and the indication of place-names, the mapmakers used only Classical Chinese (Hanmun). That was the cultural standard of those times.
But sometime during the 18th century, an anonymous and probably self-trained cartographer decided to produce a map on which all the notes and place-names would be written exclusively in Hangul.
As far as this author can determine, the anonymous mapmaker's map of Korea is the only example from the Chosŏn dynasty on which notes and district names appear only in Hangul.
In this article the author examines his style and methods.

The map measures 1030 x 630 mm., height to width. It is of about the same proportions as the much larger and untitled "Naikau map" (1515 x 909 mm) of Korea held by the Japanese government's Cabinet Library (Naikaku Bunko), which is considered the oldest known map in the Chong Ch'ok style, dating to the last quarter of the 15th century or copied from a map of that period.

Unfortunately, the map bears neither title nor date , nor is there any indication of the identity of its maker. But its cartographic type is well known and research ed, being of the so - calle Chong Ch’ŏk style, named after an official of many talents, Chong Ch’ok (1390- 1475), who during the 15th century was a favorite of five kings, all of whom promoted geographical research and mapmaking.
The defining feature of maps in this style is the problematic depiction of Korea ’s northern border with north eastern China.
The Korean orthography displayed in the placenames on the map is typical of the 18th century, in general agreement with the evidence of the place-name changes and the physical state of the map. Since the cartographic merits of the map are limited compared to earlier and well-known examples of the Chong Ch’ok genre, which are all in Chinese, the chief and unique feature of the Gabor map, that is, its exclusive use of Korean for district names and marginal comments, deserves analysis and comment.
Until the middle of the 15th century, there was no system for writing the spoken Korean language, which is linguistically unrelated to Chinese.

However, as mentioned earlier, classical written Chinese was widely known and used among the educated classes of Korea. It was not a spoken language, even in China itself. There were Korean methods for parsing a written Chinese text using special symbols for grammatical elements in such a way that a subject could be distinguished from an object, or verbal distinctions could be made that would clarify whether a clause was conditional or causative, or a statement, question, or command, etc.

As far as this author can determine, the anonymous mapmaker's map of Korea is the only example from the Chosŏn dynasty on which notes and district names appear only in Hangul.
Read the full article in 2013 The East Asia Institute Special Report.
http://www.swaen.com/Korea-antique-map.php