Hendrick Hamel

Hendrick Hamel

Hendrick Hamel (1630 – 1692), een geboren Gorcumer, was de eerste persoon uit het Westen die een beschrijving heeft gegeven van het Korea van keizer Joseon. Na bijna 13 jaar schreef hij “Hamel’s Journaal en een Beschrijving van het koninkrijk van Korea, 1653-1666,” welke werd gepubliceerd in 1668.

Standbeeld van Hamel in Gorinchem

Hamel Museum in Yeosu 

Hendrick Hamel was born in GorinchemNetherlands. In 1650, he sailed to the Dutch East Indies where he found work as a bookkeeper with the Dutch East India Company (VOC). In 1653, while sailing to Japan on the ship “De Sperwer”, Hamel and thirty-five other crewmates survived a deadly shipwreck on Jeju Island in South Korea. After spending close to a year on Jeju in the custody of the local prefect, the men were taken to Seoul, the capital of Joseon Korea, in June, 1655, where King Hyojong (r. 1649 to 1659) was on the throne. As was customary treatment of foreigners at the time, the government forbade Hamel and his crew from leaving the country. During their stay, however, they were given freedom to live relatively normal lives in Korean society.

In September 1666, after thirteen years in Korea, Hamel and seven of his crewmates managed to escape to Japan where the Dutch operated a small trade mission on an artificial island in the Nagasaki harbor called Dejima. It was during his time in Nagasaki (September 1666 to October 1667) that Hamel wrote his account of his time in Korea. From here, Hamel and his crew left to Batavia (modern day Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies in late 1667. Although Hamel sojourned in Batavia until 1670, experts speculate that his crew, returning to the Netherlands in 1667, brought his manuscript with them, where three versions of it were published in 1668. Hamel himself did not return to the Netherlands until 1670.

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