Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Journal of Hendrick Hamel
Jan Janse Weltevree

In the introduction Jan Janse Weltevree is called a mysterious person. Comparison of the texts in which he is mentioned gives us some contradictions, which are difficult to explain. For instance Hamel mentions in his Journael that he and his mates saw Weltevree for the last time in 1656 at the ferry over the river Han near Seoul and that they never heard anything of him again.
The same is claimed at the interrogation in Nagasaki. To the question of the Japanese if Weltevree is still alive, the Hollanders reply that they don't know, because they didn't see him for ten years. This sounds very implausible. Is it plausible that Weltevree, who seemed to be able to travel freely throughout the country, in all those ten years never traveled to the south, to see how his country men were doing?
On top of that there was according to the Journael a certain kind of mail traffic. It was possible to send messages. After all it was Hamel who mentions that the three mates who were lured from Seoul under the pretense that they had to function as an interpreter, informed them by letter that they were captured in the south.
One and the other raises the suspicion that there have been contacts between Weltevree and the other Hollanders, also in the period after 1656. This suspicion is enforced by the fact that according to the daily records of the chief of the factory in Deshima, Hamel has said on or during the same day that the interrogation took place, to this chief, that Weltevree at their departure was still alive and was about 70 years old. Did Hamel lie to the Japanese or to the chief?

Also regarding the circumstances under which Weltevree was captured in 1627 by the Koreans, the several sources are contradicting themselves. In the Journael is written that Weltevree was on board of the jaght the Ouwerkerck , when it stranded off the coast of Korea. With a number of mates he rowed to the shore to fetch water. While doing this they were surprised by the Koreans who captured Weltevree and two of his mates, while the rest managed to escape. But what do we read in the above-mentioned daily record of the chief in Deshima ? Here is written that Weltevree was not at all on board of the Ouwerkerck. One day the crew of this ship had privatized a Chinese junk. Weltevree was put on this ship together with some other Hollanders to take this ship to Taiwan. Because of a storm, this ship ended up on the coast of a Korean island. Here the three Hollanders were overwhelmed by the Chinese and handed over to the Koreans. This version is confirmed in a letter from the governor of Formosa to the governor-general in Batavia , dated July 22, 1627. In which the governor of Formosa announced that the Ouwerkerck on July 16 had privatized a Chinese junk, which was on his way to Amoy. 70 of the 150 Chinese were brought from the junk to the Ouwerkerck , while 16 men moved over to the junk to bring them with the rest of the Chinese crew to Taiwan. The junk however had drifted away by a storm in northeastern direction and is since then without any trace, so it maybe feared that the ship is perished. The Ouwerkerck itself was privatized some months later by a Portuguese ship and burned in Macao. The jaght has never been in Korean waters. From the above mentioned it is clear that Weltevree belonged to a group of Hollandse privateers, who were captured by their victims and were handed over to the Koreans. And Hamel knew this. It is understandable that he didn't mention these less honorable events in the Journael. And also that he didn't speak about it during the interrogation by the Japanese. It is less clear however, why he, both in the Journael and during the interrogation, claims that he hadn't heard from Weltevree during ten years.

There is more by the way, which Hamel doesn't mention concerning Weltevree. In a Korean edition of the Journael, the interpreter Yi Pyong Do cites in a supplement a document of about 1700, in which Weltevree is described as follows:

Yon was tall from stature and rather heavily build. He had blue eyes, a pale face and a blond beard which hangs until his belly. He was married to a Korean woman who gave him two children; a boy and a girl.
The father and the uncle of the writer of the document were both connected as high officials to the court of king of Korea in the time that Weltevree was there too. One may assume that the document is a reliable source. If Weltevree had a wife and children, it was most unlikely that Hamel didn't know that. It speaks for itself to assume that he and the other Hollanders visited him during their stay in Seoul. In the Journael however Hamel leaves this interesting fact unnoticed. Possibly he considered that mentioning of the marital state of Weltevree would raise some questions by the readers about the marital state of the other Hollanders, questions who might be painful since most of them had a wife and children after all in Holland as well. In another Korean document, also cited by Yi Pyong Do, the following is mentioned about Weltevree:
Yon was working at the staff of general Ku In Hu. His sons are mentioned in the military register of the training office.
What is noticeable in this quotation is the word 'sons'. Maybe Jan Janse had more than one son. The in this quote mentioned training office was a government institution which was established to the end of the 16th century for the production of firearms and for the practice of the use of them. The military register contained the names of the technicians skillful in professions like the manufacturing of canons. Such professions where hereditary in Korea and from another source we know that Weltevree was in charge of making firearms in Seoul and that he was considered to be an expert in this field. We read this in the Korean document from which the previous quotation is derived. It says the following:

Yon was an expert in the field of the knowledge of arms. He was very skillful in casting canons of which the finishing touch was very beautiful.
Also the shipwreck of the Sperwer is mentioned in this document.

In the fourth year of Hyo Jong (1653) a strange ship was wrecked in the coastal waters of the Chindo-district. On board were 36 men. They were remarkably dressed, and also their stature was remarkable. Their noses were high in their face and their eyes sunk deep. They didn't understand our language, nor orally nor in writing. The court requested Park Yon to figure out what kind of people they are.
When Yon saw these people he was very moved. His beard was wet of tears. He said they were his countrymen and that they spoke his language. That's why the king decided to use him as an interpreter.
Many years these people lived in our country. They were incorporated in the garrisons which were camped in or around our capital, because they had much knowledge about arms and were also skilled in manufacturing arms.
When they had been with us for fourteen years, eight of them escaped in a fisherman's boat from a place in the south where they were accommodated. They reached Nagasaki. The governor of that city wrote in a letter to the king that they were people from Haranda (Holland), which is a vassal state of Japan. That's why he requested the king to send the remaining Haranda's who still remained in our country, also to Nagasaki. And so it happened.
That Hamel and his mates had much knowledge about arms and had many skills in manufacturing them, doesn't match with what Hamel tells in his Journael about the way he and his mates had to make a living, begging and all kind of petty jobs.
There was, on board of a VOC-ship usually a man, a blacksmith or an instrument maker, who could do some simple repairs on the arms, like muskets and pistols and 25 to 30 pieces of artillery with which the ships were armed. But in case of dire need, everyone on board had to be able to do anything. Then the blacksmith baked bread. Everybody on board probably knew how to handle arms and knew how they were put together. Maybe Weltevree had more special knowledge in this field. But he might have been the one-eyed man in the country of the blind. Because the Koreans didn't have a highly-developed arms industry. It seems that they imported canons from China.

Nicolaes Witsen writes in his Noord en Oost Tartarije:

Snaphaunces are unknown to them; they use rifles with a fuse. Furthermore they use leather pieces of artillery which is fitted on the inside with copper plates, half a finger thick. The leather is 2 till 5 thumbs thick and consists of several layers on top of each other. These pieces of artillery are transported at the back of an army , on horseback, two on one horse. It is possible to fire relative big cannonballs with these canons.
The Korean author Song Haeng, who lived from 1760 till 1839, describes the Hollanders in a historical essay as follows:

Amongst the survivors of the shipwreck there were some artillery experts. On board their ship there was around 30 canons. These were on wheels, so they were easily maneuverable. When a shot was fired, the canon rolled a distance to the back. Thus the power of the recoiling was taken and prevented the barrel from splitting open. Their muskets also showed an ingenious design. At firing the powder is ignited by a spark, which origins by hitting a piece of flint against an iron point. This takes place by means of a spring mechanism, which can be latched and unlatched.
According to experts this description points out that the Hollanders used muskets of the type which is known as the miquelet lock. In The age of fire arms, a Pictorial Study , written by Robert Held and published in 1957 at Harper, New York, one can read the following about this firearm:

The miquelet, in simplest terms, was a snapping lock like a snaphaunce, but refined by the revolutionary feature of having the battery combined with the flashpan cover in one L-shaped piece hinged at the toe, the upright section being struck by the flint and the horizontal forming the flashpan cover. To shoot a miquelet lock, the shooter first cocked it in the half-cock position, and no amount of pressure could release the cock to snap. To fire it nothing remained but to cock it in full-cock and pull the trigger. But at times a worn or defective gun-lock did snap out of half-lock while being carried about, an always unexpected as usually disastrous occurrence commemorated in the saying 'to go half-cocked'.
This type of musket was developed by the Spaniards, at the end of the 16th century, and the Hollanders got to know it when they were shot with it. But in 1600 during the Battle of Nieuwpoort, the soldiers of Prince Maurits already shot back with it.
From the above mentioned it seemed that the Koreans were way behind compared to the Hollanders when it comes to the manufacturing and plying of guns. Gratefully they would have used the knowledge of the Hollanders. It will be for that reason that they were assigned to the bodyguard of the king. Song Haeung writes that all the guns from the wreck of the Sperwer have been taken to Seoul . There they would have been investigated by the people from the 'training office'. After that the Hollanders transferred their knowledge. When the incident occurred with the Tartarian envoy, several Koreans proposed to kill the Hollanders.
Instead of that they were exiled to a province in the south of the country. And since that time they had to make a living with all kind of futile jobs and even with begging. They were lucky that some of the governors were kindly disposed to them and let them go us much as possible.
Hamel probably didn't think it wise to mention during the interrogation the fact that they taught the Koreans in Seoul about the use of modern guns. He also tells that only some of the guns were salvaged from the water, and that these were heavily affected by the water.
That is of course strange, because they have been in the water only for a short time. From the Korean sources we know that 'all weapons from the wreck' were transported to Seoul.
In the light of what is known now about Weltevree, is the question of the Japanese if the crew of the Sperwer also had the assignment to privatize Chinese junks, intriguing. The answer of Hamel was to be expected: They didn't get that assignment.
Nevertheless there was an order from the Heeren XII, applicable to all skippers that the trade between the different nations had to be obstructed as much as possible, by privatizing their ships and confiscate their cargo. For each confiscated ship skipper and crew received a reward.

There are some other orders which can't bear the daylight. There is for instance an order concerning the fetching of water. For this the skippers were to choose preferably an uninhabited island. There were fixed points where regularly water was taken. But by storm and headwind people sailed often in unknown waters. The orders prescribed that the ship had to anchor at a safe distance from the coast and that the crew of the sloop had to be armed sufficiently. Then follows this hair-raising sentence: "When savages show up, they have to be killed immediately".
The general states of the Seven Provinces had granted the VOC a patent, which gave her the right to declare war and to commit war-actions, like hijacking ships and shooting of savages. They were however only allowed to do so in the area east of Cape of Good Hope.

Because of the thorough work of Wim Hamel who made the following critical remarks we might ask the following questions:

Where was he born was it really in De Rijp?

1. When Hendrick Hamel met Jan Janse Weltevree, Jan had problems speaking Dutch, since he didn't speak it for more then 26 years. A ship called "De Rijp" was sailing in Asian waters. For instance Nicolaes Coeckebakker was asked to help the shôgun to suppress a revolt on the peninsula Shimibara. He requested for the use of the guns of "De Rijp" to bombard the fort from the shore. The shôgun withdrew at the last minute his request to avoid the loss of face. Maybe Jan Janse meant that he had been on that ship?

2. In those days surnames were pretty exceptional and the custom was to name someone, with his father's name, the profession he had or the place he came from e.g. Jan Janszoon (Jan son of Jan), Jan de Boer (Jan the farmer), Jan van der Bilt (coming from de Bilt).
Janszoon was very often abbreviated to Jansz or Janse, depending on the region where one lived.

3. In the ship's rolls of the "Hollandia" there is no mentioning of Weltevree, but on the other hand a Jan Jansz from Vlaardingen is mentioned.

4. In the same year 1626 two ships named "Hollandia" sailed off, on which one was our Jan Janse?

5. Since he had reasons to keep his existence in Korea secret, he might have mentioned the name De Rijp, the village where one of his mates was born, instead of Vlaardingen.

6. Because of the big fire in De Rijp in 1654 all archives are lost. In the baptism books since 1655 the name Weltevree is not mentioned.

7. His wife, with or without his children, was probably according the custom in those days, remarried, when Jan did not return. This however was not confirmed. It would be interesting to find out if there are still any descendants left in Holland.

The answers to some of these questions are recently known. (As of January 6, 2000)

A document showed up that Jan Janse Weltevree was from Vlaardingen.

Another link with the following data:

Married (2) Rijsoord 29-06-1755 (pre-married Rijsoord 13-06-1755) with Lijsbet Janse Weltevreen jd, from Pernis, buried Ridderkerk 02-09-1791, daughter of Jan Janse Weltevreen (?) and Lijdia Cornelisse Block (?). Which is close to Vlaardingen, Lijsbeth's father might be the great-grandson of Jan Janse Weltevree.

On January 14, 1609 a property at Vlaardingen.was conveyed by Joris Janszn Weltevreen to Jan Janzn.Weltevreen

On July 27, 1632 a property with a house at Vlaardingen was conveyed by the heirs of Jan Janszn Weltevreen to Aalbrecht Joosten Peesof.

In the document is written:
We, Dirck Corneliszn. de Lange en Arije Pieterszn. diocese aldermen of the city Vlaerdingen's documents (and) make known, that before us have come and appeared Gerrit Janszn. man [=probably husband] and guardian of Soetge Jansdochter [=Jan's daughter], sister of Jan Janszn Weltevreen, for one party and Heijnderick Henderickszn., having married Huybretge Leenaertsdr., being garrisoned at Willemstad, nomine uxoris [=called as spouse] for the other party and together heirs of the previously mentioned Weltevreen [who] died within this city.

And confessed, in the previously mentioned quality, lawfully to sell and convey in free ownership to Aelbrecht Joosten Peessof, rope maker, a house and property, standing and lying to the north side of the Rietdiek here in this town, bordering to the west [to] Arijen Corneliszn. Corter and to the east [to] Pieter Leendertszn. Corter, stretching at the front from the street to the back to the property of Pieter Aelbrechtszn, Peesof. In all ways as the previously mentioned house and property are fenced, boarded, as well as masonry as staked out, keeps each his good right of thereupon light boarding and similar drainage and similar free without any taxation other than the lord his right.

Promising to be competent and the previously mentioned sold [property] for such previously mentioned [meaning the condition of the property] is not exempted, subject only rights and judges [??] all without fraud. They confess also to be competent of this purchase and to settle and order everything being paid, the last penning [=penny] with the first one.

Thus to this document we, aldermen mentioned before, hung each our seal underneath, signed July 27, 1632.

A Pieter Janse Weltevreen was a shopkeeper in Strijen in 1641 while in 1643 a Pieter Jansz was a warder in s'Gravendeel
Gerrit Weltevreen born in Pernis in 1660 and died in 1692, son of Jan Janszn Weltevreen and Lijsbeth Hendriks Hans, he married with Elizabeth Pieters Donkers.
Hendrick Hamel

Hendrick Hamel was born in 1630 in Gorkum. He was baptized on August 22 (*). His parents were mentioned in a genealogical record as Dirck Frericks Hamel and Margaretha Verhaar, dochter van Hendrik Verhaar en Cunera van Wevelinckhoven. In his baptismal record we read that his mother was Margrietgen Heyndricks. His father has been married three times, which was not uncommon in those days. In the 17th century people were not always mentioned in the same way. Sometimes with their surname, sometimes with their patronymic, sometimes even not with a last name at all. Most likely are Margaretha Verhaar and Margrietgen Heyndricks one and the same person

On November 6, 1650 he left on board of the jaght the Vogel Struijs (Ostrich) from the Landdiep at Texel (an Island in the north of Holland) to the Indies. On July 4, 1651 he arrived in the port of Batavia.

On the ship's rolls of the Vogel Struijs Hamel was enlisted as Bosschieter, which means gunman. Obviously a mentioning like that, didn't mean much. We read for instance that the later governor-general Wiese on his journey to the Indies was mentioned on the ship's rolls as hooploper, which means ordinary seaman. If we also know that Wiese had to call Van der Parre at that time governor, granduncle, one has to draw the conclusion that his name was only put on the ships rolls to give him free passage

Maybe Hamel came with good recommendations to the Indies and owes his promotion as "soldier on the pen" to this. First as assistant and later as bookkeeper. Therefore was his starting salary increased to f 30 per month. The salary of his fellow passenger of the "Vogel Struijs", the bosschieter Jan Pieters van Hoogeveen was in 1653 f 11 per month. In rank this bookkeeper equaled the coxswain.

On June 18, Hamel left Batavia on board of the Sperwer on his way to Taiwan in this function. Without experiencing any bad luck it arrived here on July 16, 1653. The jaght left Batavia somewhat late because initially it waited for a number of militaries who had to come from Holland to be stationed in Taiwan. After waiting in vain for some time for the arrival of the ship from Holland on which the militaries were, it was decided to let the jaght the Sperwer go to Taiwan without the militaries. In the meantime the favorable season for such a journey was almost at its end.

On the route from Batavia to Taiwan, the weather didn't cause any problems yet. It was fine and the journey prosperous. From the Journael it is known that the second part of the journey, from Taiwan to Nagasaki was less favorable. At hindsight we might conclude that the adventure of Hamel and his mates was a consequence of the late departure from Batavia.

After the Sperwer had been declared lost officially, an order from governor Joan Maetsuyker was issued in which it was explicitly forbidden to send ships to the waters north of Taiwan after July 1, in connection with the hurricanes which use to rage after that date in the seas between China and Japan.

What happened with Hamel and his mates after their departure from Taiwan is extensively described in the Journael. Whether or not Hendrick Hamel is the author of the Journael is not proven without doubt. But it is very likely. The writing of such a report was the task of a bookkeeper.

Hamel speaks about himself in the Journael as the third person. That was not uncommon in those days. Hamel didn't sign the Journael, which was also common in those days. Reports were rarely signed by their author. All his contemporaries by the way, considered Hamel always as the author. There is also little reason to doubt this.
The question remains however when he wrote it. It lies at hand that it happened during his forced stay at Deshima. After their fortunate escape from Korea, Hamel and his mates hoped already to leave with the flyship [a narrow type of ship also called a flute] Espérance on October 23, 1666 to Batavia. They received no permission to do so however and had to stay another year on Deshima.

Two days later, on October 25, the interrogation took place. This interrogation is dated on September 14, 1666. That was the day on which Hamel and his mates arrived with the little Korean fishermen's boat at Nagasaki. Obviously then the interrogation already took place. There were two interpreters present: a Hollander and a Japanese, who both spoke Portuguese. That's why the interrogation took the biggest part of that day and Hamel and his mates only crossed the bridge to Deshima towards the evening, where they were welcomed heartily by the chief and the other employees of the VOC. The notorious 'precisiteyt' (preciseness) of the Japanese required that the questions and answers were copied in Japanese and subsequently read out loud on October 25, to Hamel and his mates, with which again two interpreters had to assist. On one of those occasions, so on September 14, or on October 25, Hamel had probably the opportunity to copy the questions and answers or to make notes. Another, maybe more obvious possibility, was that the interpreter of the VOC made those notes.

An official report of the chief, dated October 18, 1666, when Mr. Volger had already embarked and was already on board of the Espérance, he wrote to the governor general that the adventures of the person from the shipwreck of the Sperwer had to be written down. It may be assumed that Hamel had the assignment to write this report before his departure. Whether Hamel, while writing the Journael, had notes at his disposal, is unsure. He mentions so many places and so many dates that one is tempted to assume that he kept a diary in Korea. On the other hand he never mentions exact dates, which he would have done if he would have written the Journael by means of a diary. So if he had notes at his disposal, these must have been very brief.

He must have relied on his memory and that of his mates, while writing the Journael. When on October 22 of the next year finally the permission to leave arrives, Hamel will have finished the Journael for a long time. On the same day Hendrick Hamel and his mates embark on the Spreeuw, which was ready to sail out. The journey back to Batavia didn't go via Formosa, because this island was lost in 1662. In that year fort Zeelandia was conquered by a descendant of the Ming dynasty. The Spreeuw chooses the deep blue sea on October 23 and arrives on November 28 at Batavia. Here was, according to the daily reports of Joan Maetsuyker, the Journael handed over to the last-mentioned.
The mates of Hendrick Hamel traveled through to their fatherland, with the same ship with which they arrived at Batavia. They arrived there on July 20, 1668. Hamel himself however stayed behind in the Indies.

It was told that he was a bachelor and because of that was less homesick for Holland. The manuscript which is in the archives of the State in the Hague is considered to be an original document as written by Hamel, on the basis of a careful text analysis. It was sent to Holland by the governor general, after a handwritten copy was made for the archives in Batavia. This copy however is lost.

Striking is that Hamel, at the end of the Journael did write down the date on which he and his mates did leave for Batavia, but that the date on which the Spreeuw arrived at Batavia isn't filled in. It is assumed that Hamel in 1669 returned back to Holland, at the same time with the second group of rescued persons who survived the shipwrecking. When that exactly happened and with which ship is not to be retrieved anymore. In August 1670 he appeared with two members of the second group, in front of the Heeren XVII, to ask for the payment of their wages over the period of their imprisonment in Korea.

The same request was already done by the first group. The Heeren XVII had already turned away this request. And also in 1670 they rejected the request. Servants of the VOC only had the right to wages for the time during which they were on board of one of the ships of the VOC or if they were in one of the factories.

This was a hard and strict rule, from which the Heeren XVII, under no condition, wanted to deviate. Out of humanitarian considerations, they decided however to give to all the surviving members of the Sperwer an amount of money. This amount will be in no proportion to the amount of the total of their wages during their thirteen years long stay in Korea. It was clear that the VOC was a trade company and not a charitable institution.

Of the further life of Hamel is as little known as of his life before the Korean adventure. In a handwritten document, which is kept in Gorkum, of around 1734 is written that Hamel settled himself in Gorkum in 1670. Some years later, it is not known when exactly, he left again to the Indies. About his stay there, one can't find any data. But in 1690, or a little bit earlier, he's back in Gorkum. Here he dies, "vrijer zijnde" (still being a bachelor), on February 12, 1692. He is then 62 years old.

Additional investigation shows:

In the meantime there are in memory of Hamel the following landmarks found:

Gorkum : Hendrik Hamel straat.
In the Linge district since July 7, 1930.
Gorkum: a statue has been erected as well as in Kangjin (Korea) where Hamel and his mates lived.
As an homage to Hendrick Hamel who was born in the Kortedijk next to the premises of number 65.
Heusden: Hamel Park
In Heusden there have been several mayors who were called Hamel at around 1500; they were the ancestors of Hendrick.
The Hague: Hendrik Hamel straat (=Street)
Hendrik Hamel plantsoen. (=Park)
1st Western expert on Korea 1630-1692.

The name Hendrick and Hendrik are used in the same way, Hendrick being the 17th century spelling, Hendrik the modern one, therefor the original Journael uses Hendrick

This part is translated and revised into English from the book by H.J. van Hove

On the 30th of July the jaght (nowadays the word yacht is derived from the word jaght, we will continue to use the Dutch word here, since yacht has gotten a different meaning) the Sperwer (Sparrowhawk) of the VOC (The United East Indian Company) sailed from Taiwan to Nagasaki. Under normal circumstances the jaght would have arrived at least at the end of November in Nagasaki, However it never arrived there and it never returned to Taiwan either. It disappeared without trace. As months went by, the governors of the VOC, gave up all hopes and in October the ship, its crew and its precious cargo were officially declared to be lost: "..... to all our regret, neither the flyship [ a narrow type of ship also called a flute] the Smient nor the beautiful Jacht the Sperwer didn't appear there [Japan], which was sent to Jappan on last 29th of July with a cargo of f 388819: 14: 15, that is certainly for the Company two big blows, mainly the missing of so many faithful servants as two such precious ships ..." ( Missive to the Governor Nov. 17, 1653)

Almost thirteen years later the chief of the VOC-factory in Nagasaki received the peculiar message that a number of eight Dutchmen, exotically dressed and floating in a primitive barge, was picked up by the Japanese at one of the islands of the Goto-archipelago. They would be brought to Nagasaki by the Japanese authorities as soon as possible. On the 14th of September 1666 they arrived at the docks of Nagasaki. It appeared to be a part of the crew of the lost ship the Sperwer. In a fragile Korean fishermen's boat they started off ten days before, with a risky journey to freedom, from a place at the south coast from Korea.

They told an unbelievable story. Their ship was shipwrecked thirteen years earlier off the coast of a Korean island. From the 64 persons on board, 36 survived. They were however not allowed to leave Korea, because the government wanted to keep the existence of Korea secret for the rest of the world.
The fate of the survivors had been unsteady. Sometimes they had a relative good time, but there has also been times that they had to survive by begging. Twenty of them had died in the course of years. Eventually 16 of them survived, of which these eight, after some failed attempts, succeeded to flee from the country.

The travels of Hendrick Hamel and his companions lasted from the 30th of July 1653 until the 14th of September 1666. Click on the map to see the precise location.

This is an old Map of Asia (1622). Korea is shown as an island. For more old and new maps of Tartary and Korea , click on the picture, it will take a long time to download

The crew from the Sperwer were not the first ones to set foot on Korean soil. An unknown man a Spanish priest and three Dutchmen already preceded them. The three Dutchmen stayed there. One of them was still alive during their stay in Korea, a certain Jan Janse Weltevree said to have come from De Rijp, a rather mysterious man. He claimed to be caught on the coast of Korea. But the circumstances under which this capture took place were unclear.

It was a Dutchman who wrote the first book about Korea in a European language from within the country: Hendrick Hamel, he was one of the crew members of the Sperwer. It was published in 1668 in Rotterdam and bore the title; Journal van de Ongeluckige Voyage van 't Jacht de Sperwer ( The journal of the unfortunate voyage of the jaght the Sperwer). Before him Joan Nieuhof had written about Korea, but written from the Chinese point of view.

The journal has been reprinted several times and has been translated in the beginning of the eighteenth century into English, German and French. In 1920 Hoetink took care of a scientific edition of the original text. He used the manuscript that is now in the States Archives of The Hague. Henny Savenije made a transcription in 1998 which you can find here

In the 17th century a lot of Ship journals were published. A well-known example is the Journal of Willem IJsbrandsz. Bontekoe, which was published in 1646 in Hoorn. Also Abel Tasman published such a Journal. He discovered Australia and New Zealand eleven years before Hamel and his companions landed in Korea. And though a lot of people have heard about Tasman and certainly most Dutchmen about Bontekoe, practically nobody knows the names of the explorers of Korea.

On September 11, 1998 a statue is unveiled, due to, among others this site, and efforts of a lot of other people. A replica is handed over to the city of Kangjin, near Pyongyong, where Hamel and his men lived for eight years. In the village of De Rijp, which is situated north of Amsterdam you can find a small statue of Jan Janse Weltevree next to the church, a replica can be found in Children's park at Seoul. Picture one, two, three
The Journal of Hendrick Hamel

This is the journal, which describes the fate of the officers and crew of the VOC-jaght the Sperwer in the period from August 16th, when the jaght shipwrecked off the coast of the island Quelpaert, which is subject to the king of Coree, and lies south of the coast of this country, till September 1666, when eight of the survivors arrived in Nangasackij in Iapan, with also a description of the nation and the country of Coree.
The shipwreck

After we were sent, by order of the Governor-general and the Counsel of the Indies, we went with the jaght the Sperwer and hoisted sail at June 18th, 1653 from Batavia, with destination Taijoan (Tainan). One of the passengers aboard was Mr. Cornelis Caesar who would relieve Mr. Nicolaes Verburgh as governor of Taijoan,. Formosa (Taiwan) .After a prosperous journey the jaght arrived on July 16th in the roadstead of Taiwan, where Mr. Caesar disembarked and the cargo was unloaded. At July 30th, the jaght left by order from the governor and the Council from Taijoan to Iapan, to continue our journey in the name of God. To avoid confusion between the modern word "yacht", which is derived from the word the "jaght", we continue to use the word "jaght."
On the last day of July, the weather was beautiful, but in the evening there was a storm coming up from the coast of Formosa, which increased in the course of the night. On the first of August we were at dawn break in the neighborhood of a small island. We tried our best to drop our anchor behind this island to find a little bit of shelter. Eventually we succeeded with a lot of danger to do so. But we could only pay out the anchor rope a little, because behind us was a big reef, on which the surf ranted and raved heavily. The skipper discovered this island purely by chance. Luckily he was looking out of the window from the back of the ship or we would have stranded on the island and would have lost the ship. Because it was very dark we saw later that we were scarcely musket shot away from it.

When it brightened up, we saw that we were close to the coast of China. We could see troops of fully armed Chinese parade on the beach, they were hoping our ship would strand. With the help of the Almighty this was not to happen. On that day the storm didn't decrease but increased and we stayed anchored that day as well as the following night. At August 2nd the weather was very calm. The Chinese still showed up in big numbers. It appeared as they were waiting for us like hungry wolves.

We also had quite some problems with our anchor and the ropes, so we decided, in order to prevent more problems to raise the anchor and set sail. In that way we wouldn't see them anymore and we could get away from the coast. That day and the following one we had very little wind. At the third of August we discovered that the current [of the sea] drifted us back for another 20 miles (the German geographical mile, which is 7420 meter) and we saw the coast of Formosa again. We set course between both [China and Formosa]. From the fourth till the eleventh we had a lot of quiet and calm weather and we drifted between the coast of China and Formosa. At August 11th we were faced again with a fierce wind coming from the southeast, so we set course in the direction east-northeast-east. From the twelfth till the fourteenth the weather became worse and worse with a lot of wind and rain so we could sometimes hoist the sails but also sometimes we couldn't. The sea became so turbulent and since we couldn't take our bearings, we were forced to drift around without sail to prevent that we wouldn't shipwreck on one or the other coast.

On the fifteenth the wind was so fierce that we couldn't speak with each other above the roaring of the sea. We couldn't hoist more than a handful of sail and the ship started to leak more and more. We were busy pumping to keep us dry. Because the sea was so turbulent, at times we got high seas rolling over and we though that we would sink.

At dusk a high wave almost swept the galleon and the transom away. This made also the bowsprit loose, so we were in dangerous loosing it from the bow. With all our strength we tried to tighten it a bit, but all our efforts were in vain, because of the heavy swaying of the ship and the high waves rolling over us. We saw no other solution to avoid the high seas and thought it advisable to hoist the jib a little. In this way we thought to save our skin, the ship and the goods of the company as much as possible and also to be saved a bit from the high waves. We thought that this, besides the help of God, would be the best. Suddenly a huge wave came rolling over from the behind, in such a way that the mates who were hoisting the jib, almost washed from the yard and the ship was filled with water.
The galleon was the light, usually decorated extension of the bow, and served as a support of the bowsprit; it ran from both sides of the front-part and stuck out, higher then the sprit with a peak or a figure head. The flat part of the back-end of the ship was often called a Spiegel (mirror) [in English: the transom]. This was often decorated with the heraldic arm of the city to which the ship belonged or an image in relief, which represented the name of the ship

Here upon the skipper shouted: "Men, keep God in mind." The waves hit us twice in such a way that we thought that we would die for sure. We couldn't stop it any longer.

It had just stricken two glasses of the middle watch, when the lookout shouted: "land ashore". We were just one musket shot away from it. But because of the darkness and the heavy rain we didn't notice it earlier. We dropped anchors immediately because the rudder had turned around. But because of the waves, the depth of the sea and the fierce wind, the anchors didn't catch. In a short while we hit the coast with three jolts so that the ship was completely smashed to smithereens.

Of the ones who were below decks in their bunks, several had no chance to come up to save their skin, the last thing they could do. Some of the ones on deck jumped overboard, others were swept hither and thither by the waves. When we reached the coast we were with fifteen men, most of us naked [could also be translated as: almost naked] and heavily wounded. Initially we though that no more were able to salvage their lives but sitting on the rocks we still heard the moaning of the people still in the wreckage, but we couldn't find anyone in the dark, nor help them.

Stay on the island of Quelpaert

On the 16th at the crack of dawn, the ones who could still move reasonably, walked along the beach and shouted to see if more had come ashore. Here and there a few of them appeared. It seemed that there were only 36 men left, of which most of them, as said before, were considerably wounded. We looked in the wreck. We found a man there, who was jammed between two big beams. We freed him immediately. After three hours he died since his body was very seriously flattened out.

The manuscript speaks about leggers which also in English, on ships, means: big barrels, in Dutch however also beams. It seems unlikely that during a shipwreck, someone gets caught between two, round objects, which were in general in the hold, as opposed to leggers, beams which were placed over the keel, hence the translation as beams (Nelson was brought back to England, after he died, in a legger of rum)

We looked at each other sadly. Seeing that in less than 15 minutes a beautiful ship smashed to smithereens and that we were reduced from 64 souls to 36 in less than 15 minutes. We searched immediately to see if any corpses had been washed ashore. We found skipper Reijnier Egberse from Amsterdam at around 10 or 12 fathoms (A fathom is 1,698 meters, so about 18 meters) from the waterline, with his one arm under his head. We buried him immediately, as well as the seven sailors we found dead hither and thither. We also looked for food, which possibly had washed ashore.

Since the last two or three days we had only eaten little, because the cook couldn't cook, as a result of the bad weather. We only found a bag with flour, a barrel which was filled with meat and also a barrel with some bacon, further a small casket with sweet Spanish wine. The last thing coming in useful for the wounded.

What we needed most, was fire. Because we saw no living soul, we thought we were on a deserted island. At around noon, when the rain and wind calmed down, we brought so many things ashore, that we made a tent from some pieces of sail. At the 17th being together in misery, we looked around us to see if there were no people who could help us, hoping they were Japanders. In this way we could get back in our country, There was no other solution, since the boat was splintered and beyond repair. It was before noon, when we saw in the distance a human being at around a canon shot's distance away [500 mtr] from our tent. We beckoned him, but as soon as he saw us, he took to his heels.

Shortly after noon another three people came at a musket shot's distance from our tent, but they didn't want to understand what we signaled and did. At the end one of us was so brave to walk to them to present him his gun en eventually received fire which we needed so dearly. They were dressed like Chinese, but had hats made of horsehair. We were very afraid about that, because we thought we had ended up in a nest of pirates or amongst banned Chinese.

At dusk about 100 armed people arrived at the tent. They counted us and kept watch during the night around the tent. In the morning of the 18th, they were putting up a big tent, at noon 1000 or 2000 men appeared, partly horsemen, partly foot-soldiers. They made up their camp around our our and once they were lined up they took hold of the bookkeeper, the head coxswain, the petty officer and the cabin boy and they were brought to the chief at a musket shot's distance. They each got an iron chain around their neck, which had a bell attached to it, like we do in Holland with the sheep. They were forced to crawl on hands and knees onto the commander, where they were pushed with their faces against the ground. With that the warriors shouted so deafening, that the shivers ran us on our body. Our companions, who remained in or near the tent, when they heard and saw this, said to each other: "Our officers will be killed first we will follow suit."

After a we had lain in this way for a while, they made our mates clear that they were allowed to sit on their knees. The commander asked us some questions, but they couldn't understand him. Our people pointed and motioned to them that we wanted to go to Nangasakij in Iapan. But it was all in vain, because they didn't understand each other. They didn't know the word 'Iapan' since they call the country Ieenare or IiIpon. The lieutenant-colonel had pored them a cup of arrack (probably Hamel means soju, since arrack is an Indonesian drink) and had them send back to the tent. Immediately they came and looked in the tent to see if we had some food and they found nothing more than the two, previously mentioned half full barrels with meat and bacon, which they showed immediately to the lieutenant-colonel.

After about an hour they brought us small portions in water boiled rice. They thought that we were starved, so that bigger portions might do us harm.

After noon a number of men approached us with ropes, which frightened us tremendously, because we thought they would tie is and kill us. But with a lot of noise they went to the wreck to bring the things, which were still alright, on the land. At night they gave us a little bit of rice to eat. At noon our coxswain had taken the latitude and found that we were at Quelpaert's island, at 33 degrees and 32 minutes latitude.

On the 19th, they were still busy to bring things on the land and dry it. Wood in which there was any iron, was burned. Our officers went to the lieutenant-colonel and an admiral of the island who had come there as well. They offered both a binocular and also brought them also a jar of wine and a silver plate from the Company which we had found between the rocks. It seemed they liked the wine, because they drank that much that they became very cheerful and send our people back to the tent after they had shown and proved all friendship. They also gave the plate back.

On the 20th, they set the ship on fire and the rest of the wood, to get the ironwork out of it. While it burned the two canons, which were loaded with powder, went off. Both the officers and the soldiers fled away, but they came back soon. With gestures they asked us of more would go off but we made them clear that such wouldn't happen. They continued immediately to work and brought us some food twice a day.

On the 21st, the commander had some of us come and made us clear to bring him the goods we still had in our tent so they could be sealed. When did this and it was sealed in our presence. While our people were still sitting there, some thieves, who had stolen during the salvage of the wreck, some furs, iron and the like, which were tied on their back, were taken before him. They were punished in our presence as indication that they didn't want to separate from the goods. They hit them under the balls of their feet with sticks of about a fathom's length and as thick as an average boy's arm. They did that so hard that with some of them their toes fell off their feet. Each received 30 to 40 blows.

That afternoon they motioned us that we were to leave. Those, who were still able to ride, received a horse and those ,who could not ride because of the injuries, were transported in hammocks. After the noon we left, well guarded by horsemen and foot-soldiers. At night we stayed at a little place called Tadjang (TaejOng). After we had eaten something, they brought us to a house to sleep but it looked more like a stable for horses then like an inn or a place to sleep. We had traveled for around four miles. At the morning of the 22nd time at the break of dawn, we mounted our horses again and we used a meal on our way at a small fortress, near which two junks were moored (at Aewôl, the old harbor is still there). In the afternoon we reached the city Moggan (Cheju city), where the residence of the governor of the island was. They call the governor Mocxo (probably Hamel mixed up the name for the governor and the city name). Having arrived there, we were brought on a field straight in front a city hall or government building and we got to drink a mug of rice water. We thought that this would be our last drink and that we would die a certain death. It was terrible to see, like they stood there with around 3000 armed men with their guns. They were dressed in the way of the Chineesen or Iapanders. We had never seen or heard something like this.

Immediately the bookkeeper and the three previously mentioned persons were taken in the previously mentioned manner in front of the governor and were thrown down. After they had lain there for a while, did he shout and motioned that they had to come on a big platform in the city hall. There he was, like a king, and seated along his side, he motioned and asked where we came from and whereto we wanted to go. We repeated and motioned as well as we could, that we wanted to go to Nangasackij in Iapan. Hereupon he nodded the head and it appeared that he could understand something of it. In the same way the rest of our people were brought to his excellency, in groups of four and questioned in the same way. We did our best to indicate what our answers were. Like before, we couldn't understand each other.

He had us bring to the house where an uncle of the king had lived his life long as an exile and where he had died as well. The reason why he was banished was that he had tried to dethrone the king and banish him from the country. He made our house strictly guarded with a big force and gave us as provisions 3/4 catty of rice and daily just as much wheat flour. They gave us however few side dishes, and we couldn't eat those well, so we had to eat our meal with salt and a little bit of water instead of side dishes.
In modern English and Dutch, side dishes means all kinds of extras, Hamel meant meat or fish, so actually the main-dish. A catty is around 625 gram.

As it seemed later, the governor was a good and wise man. He was about 70 years old and came from the kings city and at the court they held him in high esteem. He motioned us that he would write a letter to the king to await orders what he should do with us. Since the answer of the King could not be expected soon, because the letter had to for twelve to thirteen miles by sea and another 70 by land, we asked the governor to give us every now and then some meat or some other side dishes Because from rice with water and salt, we couldn't stay alive. We also asked permission to stroll around a little bit and to wash our bodies and clothes, which we didn't have very much anymore and that we were allowed to go out at turns of six men, which was granted immediately.

He had us come often, to ask us, both in their as in our language, questions therefore we could gradually communicate with each other, though in a crooked and broken way. He sometimes had parties or other entertainment organized, so that we wouldn't be too sad, and tried to encourage us daily by suggesting we could leave for Nangasackij as soon as the answer of the king came in. He also had the wounded cure, so we received a treatment from a heathen which would have ashamed many a Christian.

On October 29th in the afternoon, the bookkeeper, the head coxswain and the petty barber were summoned before the governor. When they came to him they found a man there with a long red beard. The governor asked them what kind of man that was, whereupon they answered: a Hollander like us. Hereupon the the governor started to laugh and motioned or said that this was a Coreese man. After a lot of talking and motioning on both sides, the man, who had been silent thus far, asked, in very crooked Dutch, what kind of people we were and where we came from. We answered him "Hollanders (Dutch, coming from the province of Holland, which is a part of the Seven United Netherlands) from Amsterdam." Furthermore he asked us where we came from and where we were going to. Our people answered hereupon that they came from Taijoan with the intention to go to Nangasackij. This however, was prevented by the Almighty. Because of a storm which had lasted for five days, we stranded on this island and expected now a lenient solution.

Our people asked him for his name, from what country he came and how he had come there. He answered thus: "My name is Jan Janse Weltevree from De Rijp. I came in 1626 with the ship Hollandia from the fatherland and in 1626, while going to Iapan with the jaght Ouwerkerck, due to the unfavorable wind, we stranded at the coast of Coree. We needed water and we went with the boat ashore, where three of us we captured by the inhabitants. The boat with the remaining companions got away and the ship left immediately." He said furthermore that his two companions were killed after 17 or 18 year, when the Tartar came into the country, were killed. They were (called) Dirk Gijsbertsz from De Rijp and Jan Pieterse Verbaest from Amsterdam.

They asked him also where he lived, how he made a living and why he came to the island. He said that he stayed in the kings city (Seoul). He received from the king a royal maintenance and that he was sent there to find out what kind of people we were and how we got there. He told us further that he had asked the king and other high administrators to be sent to Iapan. This, however was him forbidden all the time.

He said that if we were birds, we could fly to there. They don't send foreigners from this country. They will provide you with a living and for clothes and in this way you will have to end your life in this country. He tried to comfort us in this way. Even if we came in front of the king, we couldn't expect anything else, so that our joy of having found an interpreter, almost changed into sadness. It was remarkable that this man, of 57 or 58 years old, almost had forgotten his mother tongue, so that we hardly could understand him and had learned it again within a month.

All the previously mentioned was pertinently written down by order of the governor, after which it was read aloud and translated by the previously mentioned Jan Janszoon, so that this could be sent to the court with the first favorable wind. The governor gave us daily a fresh heart by saying that he expected an answer with the first boat and that this answer, according to him, would contain the answer that we could leave for Iapan on short notice, we had to resign with our fate. He showed us nothing but friendship, as long as his time lasted. He had us visited daily by the previously mentioned Weltevree and one of his officers or Opper (=head) Benjoesen (pronounced as Benyusen), to let him know what happened.

In the beginning of December the new governor arrived, because the last one's term of three years had expired. We were extremely sad about this, because we were worried that new lords would mean new laws and so it happened. Since it became cold and we had only a few clothes, the old governor had made us a long lined robe, with a pair of leather socks and a pair of shoes, so we could protect our selves against the cold. He also gave us the salvaged books as well as a big tankard of oil, so we could pass the winter.

On his farewell meal he treated us very well, and had us told through the previously mentioned Weltevree that he regretted it very much that he wasn't['t allowed to sent us go to Iapan or could take us with him to the mainland. We shouldn't be too sad about his departure, since as soon as he arrived at the court he would do all his efforts to bring us from the island to the court. We thanked the governor very friendly for all the mentioned friendliness.

As soon as the new governor took office, he didn't receive any additional food, so that most of our meals consisted only of some rice and salt and a sip of water. We complained to the other governor, who was still on the island because of onshore wind, but he replied that his term as governor was finished and he couldn't do anything. But he would write to the new governor, so that, as long as he was there, we got from the new one, to prevent complaints, some side dishes

1654 In the beginning of January the old governor left and that worsened the situation. Now one gave us wheat, millet and barley flour instead of rice without any side dishes So if we wanted to have some side dishes we sold our millet. Daily we had to be satisfied with portion of 3/4 of barley flour. We could however continue to go out daily with six men at the same time. So very disheartened we sought for all kinds of means (of existence) because the harvest time and the monsoon were also due.

Because it took a long time before the answer of the king arrived, we were afraid to stay forever at the island and to end our lives in prison, so we looked out for possibilities to escape, maybe there was at night a boat which would be on the shore with all the necessary things, so we could take that so we could take to our heels. This happened at the end of April, when a few of our people, among them the chief navigator and three other of the salvaged mates, made their first attempt. As we have understood it, one of our companions would climb over the wall to look the ship and the tide of the water. The guard became aware of this because either a dog started to bark, or in another way. They kept guard very strictly, so that even before our mates could get going, they were pushed back.

In the beginning of the month of May, the coxswain, who was on leave with five other companions (among them three of the previous attempt), saw in a village not far from the city a ship with all the necessities on board. Immediately they sent a man back home to fetch two pieces of bread for each and a plaiting (a piece of rope which is twined in a flat way). When they were together again, each took a sip of water of water and went, without taking anything else in the boat. They pulled this over a sandbank, in the presence of some villagers, who watched very surprised, not knowing what to do. Eventually one of the villagers entered his house and took a musket and followed those in the boat, wading through the water. They came offshore, except the one who couldn't get into the boat, since he loosened the hawsers and therefore he chose the shore. The ones in the boat hoisted sail, but because they couldn't handle the rigging very well the the mast with the sail fell overboard. With a lot of effort they managed to erect the mast again. When they had tied the sail with the plaiting to the mast and the thwart (the rowing bench), the pin with which the mast is fixed broke, so the mast with the sail fell again overboard. They couldn't erect it anymore and drifted therefore back ashore. Some villagers, who saw this, went immediately after them with another boat.

Having arrived there, our mates jumped unexpectedly into the other ship, and even though the villagers were armed, they were of the opinion that they could throw them over board. This ship however was almost full with water and wasn't seaworthy so they sailed altogether back ashore. They were taken before the governor. He had them tied up really tight with a heavy plank with a chain around their neck, one hand was nailed by means of a clamp against the plank.

They were thrown in front of him. The others were also fetched from the house in which they were imprisoned. They were also tied very well, and were also brought before the governor. There we saw our mates lying in a deplorable situation.

The governor had them questioned whether they did this without the knowledge of the others. They answered that this happened without the knowledge if the others to advance that the others would not be burdened and their mates would not be punished. To that the governor asked what they had planned.They answered that they wanted to go to Iapan whereupon the governor asked if they thought this could be done with such a small boat and without water and so little bread. They answered that they it was better to die fast than to die a lingering dead. He had them untied and had each given 25 blows on the bare buttocks with a stick which is about one fathom long and a finger thick at the bottom and round on the top. As a result they had to stay in bed for about a month, additionally we were not allowed to go out and were strictly guarded day and night. This island which is called Schelue (Cheju ) by them and Quelpaert by us. It lies as previously mentioned on 33 degrees 32 minutes latitude, twelve to thirteen miles south from the south point of the mainland or Coree. It has at the inside or the north side a bay, in which the ships come. From there they sail to the mainland. It is dangerous to come in for those who don't know it. It can't be sailed by those who don't know it, because of the invisible cliffs. Many who sail there and miss the bay, eventually drift to Iapan. There is, besides that bay, no roadstead or port of refuge. The island has a lot of visible and invisible cliffs and reefs on all sides. The country is very populated and is fertile for the life stock: there is an abundance of horses and cattle. Yearly they give a lot of income to the king. The inhabitants are poor people and considered to be simple by those of the mainland, they aren't esteemed very high. There is a high mountain, full with trees and further there are mainly bare mountains without any trees and many valleys where they cultivate rice.

At the end of May the long expected message from the king arrived. To our sadness we had to come to the court, that changed into joy, because we were to be released from our prison. Six or seven days later we were divided over four junks and with both our legs and a hand locked in a block because they worried that we run off one or the other ship. We would have certainly done this if we would have been unlocked, because the soldiers who had to guard us were seasick during the biggest part of the crossing. After we had sat two days like that, and couldn't make any progress as a result of the head wind, we were unlocked again and brought back to our house of detention. Four or five days later the wind came from the right angle and we were taken aboard of the junks at daybreak, where we were locked in the same way as before. The anchors were weighed and the sails hoisted. Already at the evening of the same day we found ourselves close to the mainland where we anchored.

The next day we were freed from the junks and brought ashore. There we were strictly guarded by the soldiers. The other day we got horses and rode to a city called Heijnam (Haenam, near Kangjin, an important big city in Cholla-do during the Chosôn period), where we joined at night all 36 together, and to prevent difficulties and punishment from those who were in charge, the junks moored at different places. The next day after we had eaten something, we were on horseback again, and came at night in a city called Ieham (Yôngam). At night gunman Paulus Janse Cool from Purmerent died there. He had never been healthy since the loss of the ship. By order of the city governor he was buried in our presence. From the grave we moved onto a city called Naedjoo (Naju). The next day we moved on again and stayed the night in a city called Sansiangh (Changsông), from where we left in the morning and stayed in the city Tiongop (Chôngûp), passed that day a high fortress, where lay a big reinforcement which was called Iipam sansiang (Ipamsansông). After we had stayed in the city left in the morning and arrived on the same day in the city Teijn (Tae'in).The next day we sat on horseback again and came in the afternoon in a small city called Kumge(Kûmku), after we had taken a lunch we left again and arrived in the evening in a big city called Chentio (Chônju), where the king in ancient times had his court and the stadholder of Thiollado (Chôllado) lives there. [This city] is considered throughout the country as a big commercial center, which couldn't be reached by water, and therefore a city surrounded by land. The next morning we left again and arrived at night in a city called Iesaen (Yôsan), this was the last city from the province of Thiollado from where we left in the morning on horseback again, and stayed in a small city called Gunjiu (Ûnjin), which laid in the province Tiongsiangdo (Chungchôndo), left the next day to a city called Iensaen (Yonsan): where we stayed the night and were on horseback again the next morning. And arrived at night in a city called Congtio (Kongju), where the Stadholder of the before mentioned province has his court, the next day we passed a big river, and came into the province of Senggado (Kyonggido) where the Kings city lies. (Click for map)

At Seoul

After we had traveled like this for several days and stayed the night at several cities and villages, we finally reached a river as wide as the Meuse near Dordrecht (having traveled 70 to 75 miles north, but also a bit west). We crossed this river after which we arrived one mile further at a big walled city. This is Sior (Seoul ), the residence of the king. All of us were accommodated in a house where we stayed two or three days. Then we were accommodated with two, three or four men at Chinese fugitives, who lived in Seoul. This was hardly done or we were summoned before the king who asked us through the before mentioned Jan Janse Weltevree , all kind of questions.

We answered these questions in the best way we could and accordingly requested passionately to let us leave to Japan. We reminded him that we lost our ship because of a storm, with which we almost lost half of our companions. That we found ourselves in a foreign country, faraway from hearth and home and we longed heavily to be reunited with our parents, wives, children, friends and next of kin.

Upon this the king answered, again through Weltevree, that this was not the custom of the country. Foreigners never received permission to leave the country. So we had to reconcile ourselves to staying in this country for the rest of our lives. To the custom of the country he invited us accordingly to amuse him with dancing, singing and clownish behavior. Though we fulfilled this obligation with little talent and as little enthusiasm, our performance was to the liking of the king and his court.

After we had been treated in the way of the country, each of us received two pieces of linen, so we could dress ourselves according to the customs of the country. Then we were brought back to the houses in which we were accommodated. The next day we were summoned at the commander-in-chief, who told us through Weltevree, that it had pleased the king to draft us as his bodyguards. We would receive a monthly allowance of about 70 ounces of rice each.

Each of us received a round wooden disc, on which were engraved in Korean letters our names, age, country of origin and our functions in service of the king. On top of that the stamps of the king and the commander-in-chief were burned in it. Then each of us received a musket, gunpowder and lead and the assignment to pay our respect to the king each new and full moon.

It is namely the custom in Korea that inferior servants of the king twice a month paid their respect to their superior. The male population is, until a certain age, being enlisted six months a year as a warrior. Hence three months in spring and three months in fall. During both periods they are drilled three times a month, and are practiced in shooting three times a month as well. Weltevree was assigned as a drilling master to us and besides him a Chinese. There are namely a lot of Chinese enlisted in the bodyguard of the king.

We were daily invited to appear for several great men, because both men and their wives as well as their children were curious to see us. Because the rumor had been spread that we looked more like monsters than like human creatures. It was being said that, when we wanted to drink, we had to put our noses behind our ears. And that our heads were best to be compared to the head of a sea cow. A closer acquaintance with us was a disappointment for most of them, because we didn't look that monstrously as one had expected, or maybe even hoped.

Actually most Koreans didn't think at all that we were ugly. They admired the whiteness of our skin. The possession of it is being regarded at as something desirable. In the beginning we couldn't show ourselves on the street or a crowd was following us, or people were surrounding us and were gaping at us. On the island Quelpaert we were much less hindered by that, though we also attracted a great deal of attention.

It came thus far that, at a certain night the mob broke into our bedrooms, in order to drag us, against our will, outside and made fun out of us. We lodged a complaint at our commander about this. He forbid anybody to harass us in any way. From that moment on we could move around freely, without causing the gathering of a crowd.

In the month of August, the envoy of the Tartars (=Manchu's) came to Seoul to collect the taxation which was laid upon the Korean nation. During his visit we were banned by the king out of the city and accommodated in a fortress. It was about six or seven miles from the city on a very high mountain. This fortress was a place of refuge. When the enemy forced its way into the country, the king sought his refuge over here. There is always so much food that 1000 men can live there for three years long. The fortress is also being used as a residence for the highest spiritual leaders of the nation. The name of this fortress was Nammansansong. We stayed here from the second till the third of September, the day the Tartarian envoy left again.

Toward the end of November it started to freeze so hard that the big river (the Han Kang) near the city froze. The ice was so strong that a cavalry unit of about three hundred men in full marching kit could cross the river without any danger. Since the cold was increasing, it began to hinder us. We went to our commander with the question if he couldn't take care for winter clothes. Then he went to the king with the request to give us back a part of the hides, which they had salvaged from the wreck of the Sperwer. This request was granted. The hides were dried and accordingly shipped to Seoul , where they were stored in a warehouse. Upon inspection it seemed that a lot of these hides were rotten and another part was had been eaten by mite. We decided to sell the hides which were still useable, to buy a house from the profit. The Chinese with whom we were accommodated, namely didn't treat us very pleasantly. They demanded us for instance to fetch wood for them regularly. Wherefore we had to walk three miles to there and back three miles as well, over the mountains. Since we were not accustomed to climbing a mountain with a pile of wood on our backs, we found this job extremely unpleasant. We were all of the opinion that we preferred to suffer some cold, if only to get rid of these people. The profit exceeded our expectations however, the money we received for the hides was enough to buy three little houses and with the money which was left we could buy some winter clothes. In this way we made it through this severe winter.

The incident with the Tartarian envoy

In March 1655 the Tartarian envoy came again to Seoul . During his stay we were kept under house arrest. But on the day that, as far as we knew, the envoy would leave, Hendrik Janse from Amsterdam and Hendrik Janse Bos from Haarlem claimed that they were completely without firewood. They got permission to go to the wood. But instead, they went to the road where the envoy would pass. When the envoy approached, surrounded by some hundred horsemen, they broke through the cordon and grabbed the horse of the envoy at his reigns.

Hastily they undressed their Korean outer garment and showed the Dutch clothes they were wearing underneath. This caused an enormous commotion. The frightened envoy asked what this was supposed to mean, at which the two shouted that they were Hollanders who were kept in Korea against their will. Unfortunately the envoy didn't understand anything of what they shouted. The Koreans who accompanied him were neither willing to clarify him anything. They claimed not to understand it either.

After that the Tartarian envoy requested to take the coxswain to his house where he would spend the night and the envoy would take care of an interpreter. So it happened. In the meantime the other Hollanders were dragged out of their houses and brought in front of the Crown Council. The chairman of this council asked us if we had known what these two had been up to. Of course we denied being aware of it. Nevertheless the court sentenced us guilty, because we could have seen that the couple didn't go to the mountains, but, on the contrary, walked to the other side. We should have reported this immediately.

The verdict was 50 blows on the bare buttocks for each. This verdict however, had to be ratified by the king. The king was of the opinion that we didn't deserve this punishment. He considered that we didn't enter the country as robbers or conquerors, but were driven here, against our will, by the storm. He nullified the verdict, after which we were brought back to our houses, where we had to stay until further notice.

In the meantime, the coxswain had been questioned, through an interpreter, by the envoy and knew the whole situation. With this, the Koreans came into a difficult situation. As we were told later, the Tartarian envoy was bribed with a lot of money and promises for more if he didn't inform the emperor in Beijing. The whole incident ended badly for our two mates. They were thrown in prison and we have never seen them again. Much later we learned that they died in the meantime. Whether they died of a natural cause or had been sentenced after all, was not told. Even Weltevree, who knew so much, couldn't tell us. From the Korean resources we know that the two mates starved themselves to death. The Koreans were very worried about this, but didn't know how make them eat again.

In June the Tartarian envoy came again to Seoul . Shortly before that we were summoned before the commander, who told us a new ship had stranded at Quelpaert and because Weltevree had become too old to undertake such a fatiguing journey, three of us, who knew the language best, had to act there as an interpreter. We appointed three of our mates: an assistant, the under officer in charge of the rigs and a sailor. This threesome left a few days later to the South accompanied by a sergeant.

We, who stayed behind, got the strict orders to stay in our houses until the second day of the departure of the envoy. He who dared to stick his nose outside the door before that, could count on a merciless spanking. After a while we received a letter from our three mates, who had left for Quelpaert. They notified us that they were imprisoned on the outermost south point of the island, where they were strictly guarded. No ship at all had been wrecked. All these things had been a trick to get the threesome out of Seoul.
It was not clear to us what exactly had been the intention of this. Presumably the Koreans hoped to keep these three behind if the emperor of China came to know that there were in Korea and would request our extradition.
Maybe to use them at occurring occasions as interpreters?

At the end of that year, the envoy crossed the ice to demand again tribute . And as before, we were locked up in our houses during his stay and severely guarded. After his visit members of the crown council insisted upon the king to have us killed. They got support from other dignitaries who were fed up with us. They assembled upon this issue for three days. The king, the brother of the king, army commander and other leading persons were against this proposal, because they were kindly disposed toward us.

The army commander said that, if one decided to kill us, it had to be in a man to man fight, in which each of us had to fight against two Koreans, who were armed in the same way. He thought that to be more honorable, both for Koreans and Hollanders , then just killing a number of foreigners, who had entered the country against their will. All of this had been secretly told us, by sympathetic informers. Heavily alarmed we asked Weltevree if he could confirm this message. He didn't want to tell us more then, if we still would be alive after three days the danger would have passed.

The brother of the king, who was the chairman of the meetings, passed our houses on his way to the meetings. We took the opportunity, to kowtow in front of him and begged him to spare our lives. He set our minds at rest by telling us things didn't look as black as they were being suggested by envious persons, who were unkindly disposed toward us. And so it happened.

We owed our lives to the king, who stayed foot and didn't yield for the pressure applied by the enemy who aimed at our down fall. But he had to make concessions as well. To prevent that we caused problems again in the future by seeking contact with the Tartarian envoy, we were exiled to the province of Chollado . From the king we received a monthly allowance of 50 ounces of rice.

Our lives in the province of Chollado

In the beginning of March 1656, we left Seoul on horseback. We were accompanied by Weltevree and some other acquaintances to the river. When we stepped on the ferry, they returned to the city. This was the last time we saw Weltevree. We never heard anything of him again.

We traveled the road into the city Ieham and passed the same cities as before. At every new city we stayed, we were lodged at the expenses of the country, provided with new horses and provision as had happened as before. After a couple of days we arrived at Pyongyong or Kangjin ( Hamel calls it duijtsiang or thellapeing , if you follow this link, you will see where it is ). In this city resided the peingse (Pyongsa), the military commander of the province, who was immediately under the governor. We were handed over by the sergeant to the commander who immediately was ordered to get the three men who were sent away from the king's city and take to them to us. They were in an enforcement were the vice admiral lives 12 miles from there. We were immediately given a local house, where we lived together. Three days thereafter the three mates joined us and we then were 33 men altogether.

In April we received some hides who have been that long on the island ( Quelpaert ) that they were of no importance and not valuable enough to have been sent to the kings city. To this place not ten miles above the island and close to the seaside the named items could be taken there. With these hides we could dress ourselves a bit again and get some necessities for our new lodgment. The governor ordered us that we had to pluck the grass twice a month of the market or plaza in front of the city-hall and keep it clean..

In the beginning of the year 1657 the governor was withdrawn from his post because of bribery. He was very loved by the people and both representatives of the nobility and the people requested the king to treat him mildly. Thanks to their mediation, he was not put to death. He received another function.

In February the new governor arrived. With his arrival our situation deteriorated. From the previous governor we received firewood for free, now we had to cut it ourselves. On top of that he made us work harder. To get the wood we had to walk a round trip of six miles through mountainous terrain. We were happy when we heard that he died of a heart attack.

In November the new governor arrived. This one didn't interfere at all with our business. When we asked him for dressing money or another allowance, he answered that he only had the order from the king to provide us with a ration of rice. For the rest we had to maintain ourselves. Because our clothes were worn out due to the constant carrying of wood, we urgently needed new clothes. That's why we asked the governor permission to beg. In this country that's not considered to be something ungraceful and it is being done a lot, especially by monks .

The governor granted us permission, to beg during four days a week at the farmhouses and monasteries, of which there were a lot in that province. These begging tours were a great financial success, because both the farmers and the monks were very curious and in exchange for some money enjoyed listening to the fine stories we told them about our people and our country. In this way we could buy some new clothes to get through the winter. Luckily this winter was less severe then the ones we had in Seoul .

In the spring of 1658 we got a new governor, since the old one was replaced. This new governor had plans to restrict our freedom of movements and wanted us to work daily for him in exchange for three pieces of linen each. We didn't think this was a good idea, since due to the labor our clothes would wear out faster. On top of that there was a lack of food, so the cost of living was high. That's why we asked him to grant us a periodical leave of twenty days. During this period we could cut wood and sell part of it to the farmers, to maintain in our living.

He approved of this, the more, since a decease has had broken out in our house. Some of our mates had a terrible fever. The Koreans are very afraid of this. Our freedom of movements was limited only in so far that we were not allowed to come near the capital, nor near the Japanese enclave. But the obligation to take care of the lawn twice a month, remained. Under the condition that we left two of our men behind to care for the sick.

April 1659, the king died. With permission of the Tartarians, his eldest son was crowned king. We continued as ever. We sold some wood and begged especially at the monks . We discovered namely that these were more generous then the farmers. These monks were very inquisitive. They wanted to know everything about the customs of our own nation and from all the other nations we contacted. If we wanted to, we could have told our stories for nights in a row.
Because Korea was a vassal state of the Manchu's, a new king was not allowed to step on the throne, without their permission. This was a formality though; the permission had to be requested, but was always given.

In spring 1661 again another governor came. He was kindly disposed toward us. He often said if it was in his power, we would have received permission already for a long time to return to our country. Under his reign we could do whatever we wanted. Unfortunately this and the coming year there was a great lack of food. Because of the continuous drought, the harvesting failed. Spring 1662 thousands of people died because the famine. Everywhere a lot of highwaymen roamed the country. That's why there was a continuous patrolling on the roads by the soldiers of the king. They also had the assignment to clear the corpses which laid around hither and titter.
Several villages were ransacked by the roaming gangs and several storage rooms of the king were broken open. The ones from the nation, who survived the famine, fed themselves with acorns, bark from the trees and weeds.

In the beginning of the year 1663, when the famine already lasted for three years, many died of hunger, so that entire regions were depopulated. In the lower parts alongside the rivers, they could still grow some rice, because they have always been less dependent on the rain. If that would not have been the case, the whole population would practically die out. At a certain moment the governor was not able to provide us our monthly ration of rice. That's why he wrote a letter to the king with the request to transfer us elsewhere. In February came the order to divide us to three cities. We were still with 22 men. From these, twelve went to SaesOng, five to Sunchon and also five to Namwon ( Hamel speaks of Namman ).

We regretted this transfer enormously, after all we had a nice house in Duijtsiang, which we had decorated according to the customs of the nation, with around it a nice garden. We had to abandon all this, to start anew elsewhere. And this in a time of shortage. At hindsight this removal however appeared to be a happy circumstance for our mates who ended up in Nagasaki. But we couldn't foresee that at that moment.

At the south coast.

We said good-bye beginning 1663 to the governor and thanked him for all the things he had done for us. Then we left for our different destinations. We had to make the journey by foot. Only for the sick and the little things we were allowed to take along, some horses were put at our disposal. The ones who traveled to Sunchon and SaesOng, initially took the same road. After four days we arrived at Sunchon, Here we stayed overnight in the governmental warehouse. The next day we said good-bye to our four mates who stayed behind in Sunchon, and moved onwards. The evening of the same day we arrived at SaesOng, where we were handed over to the governor.

He had us accommodated in a scarcely furnished house and provided us with the usual ration of rice. He seemed us a friendly and good-humored man. But unfortunately, two days after our arrival he left. Three days later a new governor arrived. He appeared to be an utter disaster for us. In summertime he let us stand in the burning sun and in wintertime from early morning till late at night in rain and hail.

If the weather was beautiful, we did nothing else but cutting branches to make arrows with which the archers practiced, because it seemed to be an honor for each of the governors to have the best archers. He let us do other nasty jobs, about which we tell further on.

Because the winter was almost there, we felt the need for new clothes. That's why we requested the governor to employ six of us and sent the other six on leave. They could gather some money by begging or selling wood. Officially the permission was not granted, but eventually it was condoned. This lasted until 1664, then our governor was promoted to a higher position. His successor appeared to be much more lenient.

He relieved us immediately from all our work obligations. We only needed, according to the original arrangement, to report ourselves twice a month. Further we were obliged every time when we left to report this to his secretarial office and also where we went, so they could find us in case they needed us.

We thanked God we were finally relieved from the miserable guy, who had embittered our lives and that his successor was so kindly disposed toward us. He invited us many a time at his home, where he gave us a warm reception with spice and drinks. He also wanted to know all kinds of things about our homeland. He sincerely pitied us and wondered why we didn't try to go to Japan. To this we answered that we didn't have the permission to do so and on top of that we didn't have a suitable ship at our disposal. At which he remarked mischievously that in these coastal villages there were enough ships at our disposal.

We assured him that we would never dare to make use of a ship which was not our property, because if we failed then, we would not only be punished for our attempt to escape but also for theft. We said this to make him not suspicious. Every time we said this, the governor had to laugh heartily.

He had given us an idea though, and we started to think seriously about the fulfilling of this. Everywhere we informed if there was no boat for sale, with which we could go for fishing under the coast. But nobody wanted to sell us a boat. They had lived too long under the strict regime of the previous governor that they were very dutiful and were not easily willing to do something of which they would be blamed possibly later.

At the end of the year we saw shortly after each other two tail-stars or comets arising in the sky. The first one, in the southeast, was to be seen for almost two months. After that another one appeared in the southeast. The appearance of these celestial bodies, caused a big panic in the country. The war-fleet was standing by, the guards of the ports were reinforced, all fortresses were provided with extra provisions and extra munitions, while cavalry and infantry were exercising daily. Also was it not allowed to light any lamps, especially not in the cities along the coast. This fear was caused by the fact that when the Tartarians invaded the country, there were also similar signs in the firmament, as well as at the beginning of the war with the Japanese. Many a Korean asked us what we thought of it and if we considered the appearing of these celestials also as a bad omen. We answered that we, in Holland, usually expected that the appearance of a similar sign was an omen of one or the other disaster, be it a war, flooding or an epidemic.

These comets were also seen in the Netherlands, and in Japan

Because of this state of alertness, it was of course extra difficult to get a ship. We would have had a great problem escaping with it, because there was an intensive patrolling of war-junks. The situation seemed at a dead-end, but we accepted our fate. We were after all prisoners in a strange country and we had to be happy to have a roof above our heads and could make a living.

In the meantime one after the other governor succeeded each other. Some of them were kindly disposed toward us. Others begrudged us each privilege. One governor wanted us to stamp rice for him all day. The next one ordered us to twist 100 fathoms of rope for him. Every time we protested fiercely and appealed upon the king, who never had the intention to put us into slavery. But the darkest hour was always before the dawn. The governor, who wanted us to stamp the rice, threatened to force us, if necessary, with strong measures, when we were miraculously freed of him. During the fleet exercises, which were done daily, through negligence on one of the junks a barrel of gunpowder exploded, by which the junks sank and five persons on board were killed. The governor tried to keep this secret, but through his spies who were everywhere in the country, the king came to know it anyhow. Thereupon the governor was arrested and brought to the court. The verdict was disgraceful resignation, 90 blows with a stick and lifelong exile. When the new governor wanted us to twist rope, we hoped for a new miracle. But that stayed forthcoming for the time being. He had no heart-attack and he had no collision with the court as well. The situation became really unpleasant by now.

The escape

We didn't feel like doing slavery work for the rest of our lives. That's why we decided to sneak off as soon as possible. We had the money to buy a boat, but nobody was willing to sell us one. Then we persuaded a neighbor of ours, who was a regular visitor at our home, to work as a puppet for us. Suspiciously he asked what we intended to do with that boat.
We told him we wanted to sail to one of the islands to buy wool. After we promised that we would share the profit, which we would make with the sale of the wool, he agreed and bought the next day a boat from a local fisherman. Almost things went wrong, because the next day this fisherman saw that we were rigging the boat. He wanted to cancel the sale, because he understood we wanted to escape with the boat. If the governor would find out that we escaped with his boat, then he would without doubt be killed.
Probably he was right. That's why we advised him, immediately after we had left, to go to the governor and tell him the Hollanders had stolen his boat. The man started to doubt and when we gave him all the Korean money we had, he yielded. We impressed upon him that he should not go to the governor too fast, because in that case we would possibly be overtaken by the war-junks. If that would happen, we would appoint the fisherman as one of our accessories.

We wanted to leave at the first quarter of the moon, because then, most of the time, the weather is favorable. Since we were in a leap month (February). Coincidence was that two of our mates of the city Sunchon, came to visit us, as we did visit each other more often. We told them about our plan and they decided to join us. They were noncommissioned barber Mattheus Eibocken and Cornelis Dirckse. Apart from those two we also wanted to bring a certain Jan Pieterszen, because he knew about navigating.
One of our mates went hastily to Sunchon to fetch him. Unfortunately it seemed he visited by coincidence the mates in Namwon, which is 15 miles further. This meant an extra stiff walk. After two days both of them returned in SaesOng. The first-mentioned mate had walked in those four days, for about a fifty miles.

We decided to weigh the anchors the following day, September 4, with the moon set, and before the low tide. In the meantime our neighbors became more and more suspicious. We still had to bring all kinds of things aboard and, in order to do so, we had to climb over the city wall all the time. Such a thing naturally couldn't be done unnoticed. That's why we told our neighbors that we wanted to make a beach party. We did as if we were very gay and lighted a big fire at the beach.
Naturally a lot of people came to watch, but luckily one after the other left, as it became later and later. These fishermen get up early and that's why they sleep early. When everybody was gone, we let the fire go out and waited until the moon completely disappeared behind the horizon.

First we sailed to an island right in front of the coast, because we wanted to take in some fresh water. Right alongside the island we sailed to the open sea. Left in front of us, we saw the city shrouded in darkness, with, in front of it, in the roadstead, some war-junks. When we passed the island, we got the full wind in our sails, which we had hoisted in the meantime, and sailed quickly to the open sea.
.By means of the stars we tried to sail a straight course in south-southeastern direction. When it became light, we saw a ship at the right of us. Its crew had noticed us in the meantime as well. They hailed us, but we didn't react to it and let the ship straight in the wind, to make as much speed as possible. When we were far enough from them, we retook the right course, while we now used the rising sun as a beacon.
So we sailed on all of that day. The weather was good and there was a firm breeze. We had agreed that we would sleep in turns, but that went to no avail: everybody stayed wide awake. So we went into the second night. The sky was practically unclouded, and it was not really difficult to sail by means of the stars a straight course. We had cooking pots, fire wood, rice and salt aboard, so we didn't have to starve.

The next day on September 5, with sun rise, the wind vanished completely. That's why we lowered the sail, as not to be visible so easily from a great distance and put ourselves on the oars, to keep the speed from the ship up. Toward the afternoon the wind grew a little from the west. We hoisted sail again and set course, paying attention to the sun, in Southeastern direction. Toward the night the wind increased, from the same direction. We saw the last South point of Korea obliquely behind us. Then we were not afraid anymore to be overtaken and heaved a sigh of relief.
In the morning of September 6, we saw, not far from us, one of the first Japanese islands. That evening we were, as we heard later from the Japanese, off Hirado.
Because none of us had ever been in Japan, we didn't know the coast. From the Koreans we were told that, in order to get to Nagasaki, we shouldn't let any islands on starboard That's why we tried to surround the island, which seemed initially very small, and found ourselves that night west of the country.

On September 7, we sailed with a weak and changing wind, alongside the islands. We discovered that there was a whole row of them, one island after the other. Toward the evening we lowered the sail and rowed to the coast to anchor during the night in a bay. Because there were a lot of turning winds we thought it risky to continue sailing during the night. When we wanted to enter the bay, we saw so many lights of ships, that we thought it wiser to turn around. We hoisted the sail and sailed on all night, with the wind from behind. When it lighted up again, we saw that we were still in the same place as the night before. We suspected we drifted back by the stream. We steered our ship from the shore to get better above the islands.
At about two miles from the coast, we had a strong wind coming from the front. It did cost us a lot of efforts more to guide our brittle little ship into a bay, to seek some shelter there. We lowered the sail, threw out the anchor and started to prepare a meal. We knew at that moment absolutely not where we were. Sometimes a few Japanese fishermen's boats passed by, without paying attention to us.
By evening time the wind began to drop, and we were just about to continue our journey, when a ship with six men aboard, sailed into the bay. When we saw this, we hastily raised the anchor and hoisted the sail in order to get away fast. We would have been successful if we didn't have head wind. Besides more ships entered the bay.

That's why we lowered the sail and hoisted a small flag with the regimental colors of the Prince of Orange (an orange, white blue flag) which we had made especially for that purpose. When the Japanese -because we understood that's what they were - were within shouting distance, we shouted in unison: "Hollando, Nagasaki." The ship, which entered as the first into the bay, came toward us. One of the Japanese stepped on our ship and gestured to the one who was at our helm at that moment to join him aboard the Japanese ship. Accordingly they took us in tow and sailed around a small cape.

On the other side was a small fishermen's village. Here they rigged our ship with a big anchor and a thick rope. Apart from the one who was sitting at the helm, they took some others from our group to the shore. An attempt was being done to interrogate them. But without much result, because both parties didn't understand each other. Our coxswain continued to shout:"Hollanda, Nagasaki."
The last word however they seemed to understand, because more and more Japanese pointed in a certain direction and nodded to us. Our coming, by the way, had caused a lot of consternation. Everything was thrown into confusion. The whole village had come out to take a look at us.
Toward the evening a big sailing ship came sculling into the bay, with lowered sails. We were taken aboard, a man was sitting there, who looked rather impressive.
Later when we were in Nagasaki, we were told that he was a high official, the third in rank on the island. He was a friendly man. He smiled at us. He pointed to us and then said that we were Hollanders. We nodded fiercely. Then he told us we would be taken to Nagasaki in four or five days. That five Hollander ships were anchored there.

We in our turn, tried to make him clear that we came from Korea. That we were shipwrecked thirteen years ago and since then stayed in Korea. And that we tried now to go to Nagasaki to join our countrymen.
We were very relieved that the reception was so friendly. The Koreans had fooled us with telling us that every foreigner who sets foot on Japanese soil, immediately was beaten to death. From this one can see how many nonsense several nations told about each other.

September 9, 10 and 11 we remained anchored. Who wanted to stretch his legs, was allowed to go ashore, but was strictly guarded. We received from the Japanese additionals, water, firewood and what we needed more. Because it started to rain, we received straw mats from them, with which we could make a little tent, so we could sit dry.
On September 12, everything was made ready for the trip to Nagasaki. In the afternoon we lifted the anchor and we arrived by evening time on the other side of the island, where we dropped our anchor to spend the night.
On the thirteenth, at sunrise, the earlier mentioned high official boarded the big sailing ship. He had some letters and goods with him, which were meant for the court of the emperor. Then we lifted our anchor. We were accompanied by two big and two small sailing ships. The two mates who were the first to be brought ashore, were on board of one of the bigger ships. We saw them no earlier back then in Nagasaki.

Toward the night we reached the bay of Nagasaki and at midnight we arrived in the roadstead. Because it was a clear night, we saw clearly the five Dutch ships from which they had told us.

This was a touching moment. Most of us had tears in the eyes. We embraced each other and shouted our throats hoarse from joy.
In the morning of the fourteenth, we set foot ashore in Nagasaki, where we were welcomed by the interpreter of the VOC, who asked us a hundred and naught questions about our adventures. After we had told him our story, he admired the way, that we escaped in such a small ship and made a dangerous journey over, to us unknown waters, to join us with our countrymen.

These two sentences are not mentioned in the original document. Hamel avoided any form of emotionality. But in this place in the Journael, he does mention a relevant fact. Because in the translation of the Journael of 1954 from Yi Pyong Do, a Japanese contemporary source is cited, from which it appeared that the cheers of joy of Hamel and his mates, on the escorting Japanese boats, were clearly audible (For a map of the route taken during Hamel's escape, click here)

Then we went over the bridge, to the island of Deshima, Here we were welcomed by the chief, his lordship, Willem Volger, Mr. Nicolaas de Reij, his replacement, and by a number of employees of the Company. We received a warm welcome and were then provided with Dutch clothes.
We hardly could believe that this was the end of a dangerous adventure which lasted exactly thirteen year and 28 days. We were grateful to the great Lord that He had listened to our prayers and rewarded our efforts with such a good ending.
We spoke of our hope that the eight mates who remained in Korea, also would be liberated from their prison, and that they once could return to their country and people as well. That the Almighty Lord may help them with that.

Report of the interrogation by the Japanese.

On October 25, we were taken by the interpreter from the island and brought to governor of Nagasaki. Here were a number of questions being asked, which we answered to our best knowledge. Here under follows a truthful report of this interrogation.

Questions Answers
1. What kind of people are you and where do you come from? We are Hollanders and come from Korea.
2. How and when did you come to Korea We ran aground with the jaght the Sperwer on August 16, 1653, as a result of a storm which had lasted five days.
3. Where did you run aground? How many men did you have on board and how many pieces of artillery? On the coast of an island, which we call Quelpaert and the Koreans Cheju We had 64 men on board and 30 pieces of artillery.
4. How big is the island Quelpaert and how far is it from the mainland? The island of Quelpaert takes up about 15 miles in the round. It's very fertile, densely populated and is about 10 or 12 miles from the south of the mainland.
5. Where were you coming from and which ports did you call at? On June 18, 1653, we left from Batavia with Taiwan as destination. We had Mr. Caesar on board, who was to replace Mr. Verburgh as ruling chief of Taiwan.
6. What kind of cargo did you have on board and what was the purpose of that? We had deerskins, sugar, alum and other goods on board. The destination of these was Japan. Mr. Coijet was ruling chief of Deshima in those days.
7. What has happened with the crew, the artillery and the cargo of the Sperwer ? At the shipwreck, 28 men drowned. From the artillery some pieces were dredged up. They were severely affected by the sea water. From the cargo only a part was salvaged. We don't know where these goods are now.
8. How have you been treated by the Koreans after the shipwrecking? We were well treated. We were being accommodated, and given food and drinks.
9. Did you have orders from the authorities to privateer the Chinese and other junks, or to undertake raids on the coast of China ? We didn't receive such kind of order. Our assignment was to sail straight ahead to Japan. But because of the storm we were off course and ended up in Korea.
10. Did you have Christians or people of other nationality on board? The crew consisted only of servants from the Company.
11. How long have you been at that Island of Quelpaert and where have you been brought to after that? We were about ten months on Quelpaert . From there we were brought to the residence of the king. This is located in Seoul .
12. How far is Seoul from Quelpaert and how long did the journey take? Seoul is about 90 miles north of Quelpaert . The strait between the island and the mainland is about 10 to 12 miles wide. From the South point of the mainland we traveled another fourteen days on horseback
13. How long have you been in Seoul, what did you do there, and what did you do for a living? We were appointed as bodyguard of the king and received a ration of 70 ounces rice per month. We have lived in Seoul for three years.
14. How did there come an end to your stay in Seoul and where did the king send you? Our chief coxswain and another mate approached the Tartarian envoy. They wanted to try to come home through China. This failed, and we were exiled to the province of Chollado .
15. What happened to the two mates who approached the Tartarian envoy? They were thrown immediately in prison. Later we heard that they died. But how they met their end, is not known to us.
16. How big is the kingdom of Korea? We estimate the length of the country from the north to the south at about 150 miles and from the east to the west 80 miles. The country is divided in eight provinces and counts 360 cities, and many big and little islands.
17. Are there in Korea also any Christians or people with another nationality? We didn't meet any Christians. We did meet another Hollander, Jan Janse Weltevree. He was captured in 1627, together with some mates when he ended up in Korea, with a jaght from Taiwan. There were furthermore some Chinese, who fled their country, because of the war.
18. Is this Jan Janse still alive end where did he live? That we do not know. We didn't see him for ten years and he wasn't that young anymore. He lived in the court of the king.
19. How is the army of the Koreans armed? With muskets, swords and bow and arrow. They also have some pieces of artillery.
20. Are there any castles and fortresses? Near every city, which itself is indefensible, there is a fortress or a walled enforcement, most of the time on a high mountain. These always have food and ammunition for three years.
21. How many war junks do the Koreans have in navigation? Every city has to maintain a war junk. Every junk has a crew of 200 to 300 men, oarsmen and soldiers, and is equipped with some small pieces of artillery.
22. Are the Koreans at war with any country and do they pay tribute to any country? They are not at war, but pay tribute to the Tartarians, whose envoy comes three times a year to collect the tribute. They pay furthermore a tribute to Japan. How much is not known to us.
23. Which religion do the Koreans profess and do they try to convert you to this religion? They have, we presume, the same religion as the Chinese. They do not try to convert others.
24. Are there many temples and statues and which function do they have in the ceremonies? In the mountains there are many temples and monasteries situated, in which there are many statues. These are, as we presume, worshiped in the same way as in China.
25. Are there many monks and how do they look like? Monks are there in abundance. They make a living with working and begging. Their dressing is the same as the dressing of the Japanese monks.
26. How are the Koreans dressed? In the Chinese way. They wear hats of horsehair, or of cow hair and sometimes of bamboo. They wear shoes and socks.
27. Does there grow a lot of rice and other grain? In the south of the country grows a lot of rice. But in the dry period the crop fails and a famine starts. In the years 1660, 1661 and 1662 many thousands died of hunger. Furthermore there grows cotton. In the north they also grow barley and millet.
28. Are there many horses and cows? There are very little cows, but very many horses. Since about three years the number of cows decreased strongly, as a result of some contagious cattle decease.
29. Are there any foreign nations which are coming to trade with Korea? The only people that trade in Korea is the Japanese. They have an enclave in the country.
30. Have you ever been in the Japanese enclave? We have never been there, because this was strictly forbidden to us. To the Chinese they sell ginseng roots and other goods.
31. What kind of trade do the Koreans have? In the capital the well-to-do trade with silver , the commoner trades, as in other cities with pieces of linen according the value, rice and other grains.
32. What kind of trade do the Koreans have with China? From the Chinese they obtain the same kind of goods that as we Hollanders deliver also to Japan. Furthermore they get silk from China.
33. Are there any silver mines or other mines in Korea? The Koreans exploit already since many years some silver mines. A fourth part from the proceeds, is to the benefit of the king. As far as we know there aren't any other mines.
34. Where does the ginseng root come from, what's its purpose, and where is it exported to? The ginseng root comes from a plant which is growing in the north of Korea. They use it as a medicine. A part of the harvest is being given to the Tartarians, as part of the tribute. Furthermore the root is being exported to China and Japan.
35. Is it known to you if Korea and China are connected with each other? We were told that the two countries are connected by means of a mountain range. In wintertime these mountains are impassable, because of the severe cold and in summertime because of the game who lives there. That's why they use the sea as a link between the two countries, in summertime by boat and in wintertime on horseback on the ice.
36. How does the appointment of the governors take place in Korea? Stadtholders are being appointed for one year, and normal governors for three years.
37. How long have you lived in the province of Chollado, what did you do for a living and how many of you have passed away there? We have lived for about seven years in the city Pyongyong. We received a monthly ration of 50 ounces of rice. In that time eleven mates died.
38. Why have you been relocated to other cities and what were the names of those cities? Due to the extreme drought in the years 1660, 1661 and 1662 there was a lack of food, so that the governor couldn't give us our monthly ration. That's why the king divided us over three places: in SaesOng twelve mates, Sunchon five and Namwon also five.
39. How big is the province of Chollado and where is it situated? In the utmost south of the mainland is the province of Chollado. It contains 52 cities, is densely populated and very fertile.
40. Did the king send you out of the country or did you flee? We fled with eight men, because we knew that the king would never let us go. We rather risked death than live for the rest of our lives in that country.
41. With how many were you at that moment and were the ones who stayed behind acquainted with your departure? We were sixteen in number. We left with eight of us, without informing the others.
42. Why didn't you inform the others? We didn't inform them, because they couldn't come with us. By turns only eight of us had permission to go out.
43. How can the ones who stayed behind, still leave the country? If the emperor of Japan makes a written request for their release, he will not refuse it. After all the emperor sends the Korean shipwrecked persons back to their country.
44. Did you ever make another attempt to flee? We have tried it twice. The first attempt failed because we didn't know the rigging of a Korean fisherman's boat, that's how the mast broke two times. The approaching of the Tartarian envoy wasn't successful because the king bribed the envoy.
45. Did you ever request the king to let you go and, if yes, why did he refuse that? We have requested it repeatedly, to the king as well as to the crown council, to let us go. It was always refused with the argument that Korea never let foreigners leave, because one doesn't want Korea to be known to foreign countries.
46. How did you get the barge? We have bought it with our own hard-earned money and money we begged together.
47. Was this the first ship that you have bought? No, it was the third one. The two previous ones appeared to be too small for the crossing to Japan.
48. From which place did you flee? From SaesOng, where five of us lived, and from Sunchon, where the other three lived.
49. How big was the distance to Nagasaki and how long did it take you? We estimate the distance between SaesOng and Nagasaki at about 50 miles. From SaesOng to Goto it took us three days. We stayed there four days and went then in two days to Nagasaki. So in total the journey took nine days.
50. Why did you go to Goto, and why did you want to flee when they wanted to stop you? We have been hiding there for the storm, and when it laid down, we decide to continue our journey.
51. How have you been treated in Goto, and furthermore was something charged you there? Two of our mates were taken away for interrogation. For the rest we have been treated well, without that something has been charged for that.
52. Has somebody of you ever been in Japan, and, if no, how come you knew the way? Nobody has ever been in Japan. A few Koreans, who have been in Nagasaki, told us how we had to sail. Furthermore we remembered what the coxswain had told us.
53. What are the names, the functions and the ages of the eight mates who stayed behind in Korea? 1. Johannis Lampen, assistant, 36 years old;
2. Hendrick Cornelisse, sub officer in charge of the rigging; *
3. Jan Claeszen, cook, 49 years old:
living in the city of Namwon;
4. Jacob Janse, quartermaster, 47 years old;
5. Anthonij Ulderic, gunman, 32 years old;
6. Claes Arentszen, cabin boy, 27 years old;
living in SaesOng.
7. Sander Basket , gunman, 41 years old;
8. Jan Janse Pelt, junior boatswain, 35 years old.
54. What are the names, the functions and the ages of the eight mates who made it to Nagasaki? 1. Hendrick Hamel, bookkeeper, 36 years old; *
2. Govert Denijszen, quartermaster, 36 years old;
3. Mattheus Ibocken, petty barber, 32 years old;
4. Jan Pieterszen, gunman, 36 years old;
5. Gerrit Janszen, idem, 32 years old;
6. Cornelis Dirckse, sailor, 31 years old;
7. Benedictus Clercq, cabin boy, 27 years old;
8. Denijs Govertszen, idem 25 years old.
Thus answered truthfully by us, at September 14, 1666.

6. Description of the Kingdom Korea

Geographical situations.

The country, which is called Korea by us and Chosŏn Kuk by the inhabitants themselves, is situated between 33 and 44 degrees latitude and is from north to south around 150 miles long and from east to west around 75 miles wide. Korean cartographers depict the country like an oblong, like a playing card, though it has several extensions which point deep into the sea.

The country is divided into eight provinces, in which you will find 360 cities and furthermore a big number of fortresses and castles, which are located partly in the mountains and partly alongside the coast. For whom is not known locally, it is very dangerous to approach the country by ship, because everywhere alongside the coast cliffs and shallow places will hinder a safe passing by ship.

The country is densely populated and can maintain in its own needs in favorable years, because of the surplus of rice, grain and cotton, which is provided by the south of the country. To the southeast the country is closely situated near Japan. The distance between the Korean city Pusan and the Japanese city East Shimonoseki amounts to 25 to 26 miles (Hamel wrote Hacca, "Ha-kwan" is the Korean pronunciation for Shimonoseki in Japan and 25-26 miles with 1 mile being 7.5 = 195-210 the real distance is 205 km!).

In the strait between Korea and Japan lies the island of Tsushima, which the Koreans call Tymatte (The Japanese called it in effect Tsushima and the Koreans Taimato). According to the Koreans this was originally part of their country, but was taken by the Japanese, in exchange for the island of Quelpaert (This is historically not true, look here). To the west side, the kingdom is being separated from China by rough mountains, so it's almost an island.


To the southeast is a vast sea. Not seldom, one finds whales with Dutch harpoons in their body. In the months of January to April a lot of herring is being caught. In the first two months the herring is the same as the one that is caught in the North Sea; after that they catch a smaller species. Presumably there is a passage from Waaigat.

( The cabin boy Benedictus Clerq saw how the Koreans took harpoons out of the carcasses of the whales which were captured by them, which he recognized with big certainty as being Dutch harpoons. As a boy of twelve years old he had made a trip on a whaling vessel to Greenland. So he knew exactly how these harpoons looked like. From this he drew the conclusion, that there was a passage - at least for fish - between Nova Zembla and Korea and Japan.)
Waaigat (=Dutch for storm gate; the Russians call that Vaygach, it is close to Novaya Zemlya (Nova Zembla. If you want to see the map of Nova Zembla better, just click on it).


He who wants to travel from Korea to China, almost always goes by ship, because the voyage by land in summertime is dangerous because of the game, which are roaming around in the mountain range in big numbers, and in wintertime impossible due to the severe cold.
In wintertime the northern part of the bay is frozen, so it is easy to travel on horseback to China. In wintertime an enormous amount of snow often falls in the north. In the year 1662, we were in a monastery in the mountains, where the snow was that high, that one had dug tunnels under the snow to go from one house to the other. In order to be able to walk over it, the Koreans tied small planks around their feet, so they didn't sink into the snow.

Agricultural products

In those areas the people live from barley and millet, because rice can't grow there. Cotton grows there neither, so it had to be supplied from the south. The ordinary man in these areas is most of the time shabbily dressed in hemp, linen or hides. But in these areas one can also find the ginseng plant. The root of this plant is being used to pay the tribute to the Tartarians. This stuff is furthermore much exported to China and Japan.

Form of constitution

Though Korea can be considered as a vassal state of the Tartarians, the latter respected the sovereignty of the king so far as it concerned local government. He practices his power unlimitedly. The crown council is just an advisory college. There are no feudal lords in the country, who own cities, villages or islands. The well-to-do take their income from farmlands and slaves. Some of them own not less than 2000 to 3000 slaves. There are some who have islands or domains in loan from the king, but as soon as they die, these fall back to the king.

The word Ginseng comes from the Chinese word Jin Shen, which means "little man", because the roots of this plant look a little bit like a figurine. The best Ginseng comes from the Manchurian Mountain range. The half-wild Korean ginseng is considered to be of less quality. That's why it's strange that the Koreans paid their tribute partly with ginseng. Maybe because the plant grows in Manchuria in inhospitable areas. The root was and is mainly considered as a cure-all; a panacea. In reality it has no medical power, but it can be used as a tonic.

The army

For the defense of the country there are several thousands of soldiers in the capital, both cavalry and infantry. They are maintained by the king. Their duty is to guard the king and protect him if he goes out. Each province is obliged to send all its free men, once every seven years to the capital, to guard the palace of the king during two months; every two months another group and each year another province. Each province has a general who has three to four colonels below him. Below each colonel are a number of captains, who are commanders of a city or a stronghold. Each ward has a sergeant, each village a corporal and at the head of each group of ten men is a soldier first class. All officers and noncommissioned officers have to keep records with the names of all the men who falls under his command. These records have to be handed over to their superiors once a year. In this way, the king always knows how many soldiers he has at his disposal. The horsemen always wear a suit of armor and a helmet. They carry a sword, a bow and arrows and a kind of flail with sharp points. Of the infantry, some wear suits of armor and helmets, made of iron plates, and also from bone. They are armed with muskets, sables and short lances. The officers are armed with bow and arrow. Each soldier has to have gunpowder and bullets for 50 shots at his own expense. When we served in Seoul , we received on a certain day 10 blows on our bare buttocks, because we didn't have enough gunpowder on us. Each city has to appoint a number of monks from the monasteries in its surroundings who have to maintain the fortresses and strongholds in the mountains. In times of great need these monks are being used as soldiers. They are armed with sword, bow and arrow.

They are considered to be the best soldiers of the country. They are under the command of a captain they have chosen from their own ranks. Who has reached the age of 60 is dismissed from military service. His place is being taken by his children. The free men who haven't been in the army, form, together with the slaves, half of the population. If a free man fathers a child from a slave or a slave from a free woman, is the child which is conceived in this way, a slave. If a male slave who begets children by a female slave, those children become the property of the owner of the female slave. Each city has to maintain a war junk, with the crew, the armament and further accessories. These junks have two decks and 20 to 24 oars. On each oar there are six rowers. The total crew consists of about 300 heads, soldiers and rowers. The junks have some pieces of artillery and provisions for shooting Byzantine fire.
Byzantine fire is a flammable mixture that catches fire when it is exposed to water or oxygen. It was already used by the Byzantines to put the ships of the enemy on fire.

The war fleet

Each province has an admiral, who drills the crew of the junks and inspects them yearly. He reports his findings to the admiral general, who sometimes takes a naval review. When one establishes only the smallest failing in the fulfilling of the duty of the admirals or the generals, the culprit is exiled or condemned to death. Such happened in 1666 with our governor.

Political Organs.

The Crown Council forms the advisory council for the king. It gathers daily at the palace. Its advises are not binding for the king. Members of the Crown Council are the most important people of the country. As long as they don't misbehave, they remain members of the Crown Council until they are 80 years old. This counts for all high functionaries, everybody keeps his function until he is 80 years old, unless he is promoted.

The term of office of a Stadtholder is three years, of the remaining functionaries one year. A lot of them however are relieved of their function before the term of the office ends because of fraud, corruption or any other offense. Everywhere in the country there are spies of the king, who spot any irregularity immediately. He who has been caught, risks death or lifelong exile.

Fiscal system

The king derives his income from taxes, which are raised on the profit of agriculture and fisheries. These taxes are often paid in kind, for which the king has warehouses in all cities and villages. What the king receives in silver, he lends to the civilians again at an interest of 10%. Well-to-do live, like previously mentioned, from their own income and as far they're in service of the king, from the allowance they get from him. The local authorities raise taxes on the properties on which houses are build, both in cities and in villages. The height of the tax is determined by the size of the property. The profit is used for the maintenance of all kind of local provisions.

Who doesn't fulfill military service, has to perform replacing activities, and that during three months per year. Cavalry and infantry in cities and villages have to hand over three pieces of linen, or the equivalent in silver on behalf of the cavalry and infantry that services in the capital. Further taxes and excises do not exist in this country.

Administration of justice.

High treason or other serious crimes aimed at the king of the state, are punished very severely. The whole lineage of the culprit is wiped out. His house is demolished until the ground, On that place it is not allowed to build another house, ever. All his slaves and goods are confiscated. These are being used for either the good of the country or given away to deserving civilians.
When someone criticizes the verdict that has been passed by the king, or on his behalf, will be punished severely. The king had a sister-in-law who was very skillful in making clothes. The king requested her to make a dress for him. The fact was that this woman nourished a deep hate against the king. That's why she sowed some witches herbs in the lining of the dress. As a consequence he felt very uncomfortable, when he wore the dress, and couldn't find any rest. That's why he had the dress examined. When they had unpicked the dress, they discovered the malicious herbs hidden in it. The king became outrageous and had the woman locked up in a room of which the floor was made of copper plates. Here under a fire was lit, so that the woman slowly stewed and subsequently died.
An acquaintance of the woman, a high placed civil servant, who was highly esteemed at the court protested against this. He thought that one should not treat a woman, especially a woman in a prominent position, like that. Here upon the high civil servant was caught. He received 120 beatings on the shins and was then beheaded. His goods and slaves were confiscated. Offenses like that, and also the other ones I will mention further on, are considered to be a personal offense. The family of the culprit is not being punished, like in the case of high treason.

A woman, who kills her husband, is buried alongside a road on which a lot of people pass, in a way that only her head sticks out of the ground. Next to her they put a wooden saw, with which everybody who passes her, except the nobility, has to saw one time on her head, until she dies. The city or the environment in which the murder has taken place, loses during a number of years the right to have its own governor. During this period the city is administrated by the governor of a neighboring city or by a nobleman, on behalf of the king. A man who kills his wife goes freely if he can proof that he had a good reason for that, for instance adultery or having failed in her marital duties. A man, who kills a female slave, has to pay to the owner of the female slave, three times the value. Slaves, who kill their master, are being tortured during a long time until death follows. A master can kill his slave because of a small offense. Commonly killers are killed in the same way as they killed their victims, but first they receive several beatings on the soles of their feet.
Who is guilty of manslaughter, is punished as follows: the corps of the body is washed with vinegar and dirty water. This mixture is poured into the mouth of the criminal with a funnel. Then his swollen belly is beaten with sticks until it bursts.

Though also theft and burglary are severely punished, a lot is being stolen. Thieves are generally beaten on the soles of their feet until they pass out.

Who commits adultery with a married woman, is lead through the city, together with the woman, naked or just dressed in thin underpants. From both the face is smeared with slake lime, they have an arrow through each ear, and on their back a small drum is tied on their back on which a judicial servant beats while he shouts: "Look people!, this man and this woman committed adultery!". After being led through the city like this, they conclusively got 50 to 60 beating on their buttocks in the square in front of the city hall.

Who doesn't pay his taxes in time, is beaten on the shins twice or three times a month, until he pays his debt. If he dies before this time, his family or friends have to foot the debt.

The most usual punishment in this country consists of beatings on the calves or buttocks. This is not considered to be disgraceful, because a little offense. can already be a cause.

The common governors cannot condemn somebody to death without the consent of the Stadtholder.

The beatings of the shins are done as follows: the condemned is placed on a stool with his legs tied together. On his shins they put two stripes, one a hand width under his knees, and one a hand width above his feet. There ( between the stripes ) he is beaten with sticks of one arm length, round at the top and flat at the bottom, two fingers wide and a two and a half guilder coin thick, made of oak or alder wood. After 30 beatings the condemned gets three to four hours rest. Then the treatment continues, until he had his share.
The beating of the soles of ones feet, takes place as follows: while the condemned sits on the ground, his feet are tied together with his big toes and placed upon a beam. With round sticks as thick as an arm he is beaten then on the soles of his feet as long as the judge pleases.
The beating of the buttocks takes place as follows: The condemned has to lower his pants and lie face down. Sometimes he has to lay face down on a bench, at which he is tied. For moral reasons the women can keep up their pants. These are wetted to feel the blows better. For the beating sticks are being used which are five feet long, round at the top and one hand wide at the bottom and of a little finger's thickness. A hundred beatings mean the death of the condemned. Beatings are also done with rods: bundles of twigs which are one finger thick and three feet long. The punished have to stand on a bench and is beaten with these rods on the calves. For children thinner twigs are used.
Many punished howl from pain, while other show a pitiful moaning. Therefore, these tortures are a true torture for the bystanders as well.


Concerning religion, the temples, monks and religious practices, I think I have to draw the conclusion that the common civilian has more respect for the government, then for the many Gods. The well to do even show less religious respect. They seem to esteem themselves and their equals higher than their idols. When a Korean dies, regardless he was high or common, the monks come to say their prayers and bring offerings for the deceased, where family and acquaintances are present. If some highly placed person dies, his next of kin sometimes come from 30 to 40 miles away, to attend these ceremonies.
On official holidays some farmers and civilians come to honor the Gods. They light a fine smelling stick (incense) in a little pot with fire, which burns in front of the Idol's statue. They mumble there for a moment, make a few bows and leave again. They claim that he who does good, will be rewarded for that later and he who does evil, will be punished later. Preaching or teaching is not one of their religious practices. They also never discuss about religious affairs. They don't know a diversity of religions like we do. Throughout the whole country one honors the gods in the same way.
The monks pray twice a day in front of the statues, while bringing fragrant offerings. On official holidays a lot of people come to the temples and the monks make a lot of noise by beating on drums and gongs and the monks also make strange music with flutes and primitive string instruments.

There are many monasteries and temples in the country. These are almost all in the mountains, often at beautiful spots. In some of these monasteries there are sometimes 600 monks. But in the cities there are also small monasteries in which 10, 20, at the utmost 30 monks live. In each monastery the oldest monk is in charge. If one of the monks misbehaves, he can administer 20 to 30 blows on the buttocks. But with severe offenses the monk is handed to the governor of the city.
There's no lack of monks, but their doctrine doesn't represent much. Everyone who wants, can become a monk in an instance and stop again when he doesn't like it. Monks therefore are not highly esteemed in this country.
There are however also very highly placed monks, who supervise a big number of monasteries. These are highly esteemed however. One respects their knowledge. They are considered to belong to the court of the king. They use the national stamp and have jurisdiction when they visit the monasteries. They ride on horseback and where they come they are welcomed with a lot of ceremony.

Shin Yun Bok: Prominent Koreans in the company of some Kisengs. Hamel calls these ladies unashamed "whores". Sex however was only a part of their repertoire that included also singing, dance and music. Oil on silk (1758?), Chosôn.

All monks are vegetarians; they neither eat eggs. They shave their heads and chins smoothly. They are not allowed to speak with women. Offenders of these regulations get 80 blows on their buttocks and are expelled from the monastery. At their entrance they receive a brand on their right arm, so one can always see that a Korean has been a monk. Ordinary monks have to make a living with working, trading and begging.
In all monasteries there are a number of small boys who receive education in reading and writing and religious affairs. But they are allowed to leave the monastery as well. These boys consider the monks who have raised them as their fathers. They are in mourning if one of them dies. There are in Korea also other monks. These don't shave their heads and are allowed to marry.

The monasteries are build with gifts which have been collected by the people. Anybody from highly placed persons to commoners contributes to this. On itself this, however, is not enough to live on. Many monks believe that all people used to speak the same language. But the big amount of languages originates when the people wanted to build a tower to climb to heaven.

The well to do often go to a monastery to spend their leisure time. These are pleasantly situated in the mountains and between the trees. They often take whores with them to amuse themselves, and drink often a lot of strong alcoholic drinks, so that many a monastery looks more like a brothel or a cheap joint then a place where one can repent.
In the capital there were two convents, one for noble women and one for common women. The women have also shaved their heads and perform ceremonies in the same way as the monks. They don't work nor beg, but live from an allowance from the king. Four or five years ago the present king disbanded these two convents and gave permission to the nuns to marry.

Public housing

Concerning public housing it can be established that the well to do live in very beautiful houses, but that the common man has to be satisfied with a slum. In general it is the Koreans not allowed to alter something to their houses. For a roofing with roof tiles they need permission from the governor. That's why the most ordinary houses are covered with cork, reed or straw. The properties are separated by each other by a wall or a fence. The houses are built on poles. The lower part of the walls is made of stone. The part above the walls are partly made of timbering with mud smeared in-between. On the inside the walls are covered with white paper.
Under the floors of the rooms they heat continuously, so that they are always warm like a baker's oven. The floors are covered with oiled paper. The houses only have one floor with on top of that a small loft, where they can store all kind of small things. Noble people have in front of the actual house an accommodation for guests where they can receive friends and acquaintances, who will stay there sometimes. They use this separate living space to relax and rest. This room usually looks out at an inner courtyard with a fountain and a fishpond, and a garden full of plants, rocks and some trees.
The women live in the back part of the house, so they can't be stared at by passersby. Merchants often have besides their house a warehouse, in which they store goods, have office and receive their relations, whom they treat most of the time with tobacco and arak (arak is actually an Indonesian drink, most likely Hamel means Soju) Their wives often join them too. Sometimes they visit others as well, but they are always close to each other or to their husbands.
In general their houses are scarcely furnitured; only the most necessary things are there. In all cities there are many joints and brothels where men go to see the whores dancing and where music is made and singing is done.

In summertime when the weather is beautiful, the Koreans sometimes go to the mountains to relax in the woods. They do not know inns, where travelers can stay. Fatigued travelers sit down in the inner courtyard of a private house, where they get food and something to drink. The guest rooms of the well to do are always open for travelers passing by as well. Alongside the main roads however there are stopping places where the ones who are on an official journey can stay overnight and eat on the expenses of the community.

Marital law

Blood relatives are not allowed to marry until the fourth degree. There is no engagement time, because marriages are arranged by the parents when the children are only 10 to twelve years old. The girl is then going to live in the house of her parents in law, unless her parents don't have sons. The girl and the young husband stay to live there until she learned to be a good housewife and he how to make a living. Then they move to a house of their own. Some days before the wedding the girl returns to her parental house. In the morning she will be picked up here by her husband, who is in the company of friends and relatives. These are given a warm welcome, after which the whole company goes on horseback in a festive parade to the new house. There the matrimony is celebrated.

A man can repudiate a wife, even if he begets several children by her. He then may marry again. A woman doesn't have these privileges unless a judge has granted her these.
A man may have as many wives as he can maintain and, if he desires, go to the whores. One woman stays in his house and does the housekeeping. The other women live somewhere else in separate houses. Noblemen usually have two to three women in their house, of which one is in charge of the housekeeping. Each of these women has her own apartment, where the lord of the house can visit them to his liking.
The Koreans treat their women as slaves, whom they can repudiate for a futility. If the man doesn't want the children, the repudiated woman has to take them with her. No wonder this country is so densely populated.


Noblemen and well to do give their children a good education. They hire teachers to teach them reading and writing. The children do not receive education with strictness but with gentleness. They are told about the many wise men in their history and how they received an honorable position in the country. It is admirable to see how diligently these young children study the scriptures which are given to them to read and which form the main part of their learning program.

In each city there is a house in which the ones who have given their lives for the country are remembered. In these houses old scriptures are kept. Youngsters study these scriptures. When they have fulfilled their study, the governor is informed who sends examiners to examine them. The names of the ones, who are found to be suitable to hold a administrator function, are passed on to the court of the king. Yearly meetings have been held, during which the candidates for government functions are examined. The successful candidates receive from the king a Letter of Promotion. This is a much wanted document. Many a young nobleman became a senior beggar before he finally succeeded to receive the document in the meantime. They have exhausted their means -which are often very modest - by high costs, donations and meals they had to give to achieve the intended goal. Many parents also have to grab deep into their wallet, to pay for the study of their children. Too many never get the high administrator post for which it all started in the first place. But the bare fact that their children succeeded in passing the exam, give the parents so much satisfaction that the sacrifices they had to do are highly compensated.
The parents love their children very much, as well as the children do their parents. If one of the parents committed a crime and he succeeded in avoiding the punishment which stands for it, then the children will have to take the blame. The reverse is also true.
Between parents and children of slaves is a much looser bond. This is because the owners take the children from their parents as soon as they are able to work.

Delivery of corpses.

For a deceased father the sons observe three, and for a deceased mother two years of mourning. During this time they use the same food as monks and they are not allowed to carry out any public duty. Who carries a public duty, has to resign immediately when his father or mother dies. During the period of mourning they are not allowed to have intercourse with their wife. Children fathered during that period, are considered to be illegitimate children.
During the period of mourning the Koreans are not allowed to argue, fight nor become drunk. They wear long skirts from rough linen, at the bottom no hem, and around it a belt of hemp, as thick as a cable of a ship or the arm of a grown up man. Around their heads they wear a somewhat thinner rope with a bamboo hat. In their hand they carry a thick stick or a thin bamboo stalk. Thus one can see if somebody mourns for his father or mother; the stick indicates that his father, the bamboo stalk that his mother has died. Mourning people wash themselves also little, so that they sometimes look like a scarecrow.
When somebody has died, his friends and relatives behave like madmen; they cry and shriek and pull their hair from their heads. To bury the dead, much care is taken. Fortune tellers determine what the most suitable burial place is. This is most of the time in the mountains, where no water can reach it. The body is placed in a double coffin. Each coffin is 2 or 3 thumbs thick. They fill the coffin with new clothes and other things which the deceased is supposed to need in the next world. The wealthier the relatives, the more they put into the coffin. Burials usually take place in spring and in fall when the harvesting has been done. Who dies in summertime usually is temporarily interned in a small house made of straw and which stands on high poles. The bearers do nothing else then dancing and singing, while the relatives fill the air with their wailing. The third day friends and acquaintances go to the grave to make their offerings. They make it a gay day. On the graves one finds normally a small hill of 3, 4 or 6 feet high, neatly planted with small ornamental bushes. Prominent deceased are interned in graves which are covered with stones on which some statues are put. The name of the deceased and the function he fulfilled is carved in the stones.
On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the grass on the graves is mowed and a rice offering is made. This is, except for New Year the most important holiday in the year. Their calendar is based on the cycle of the moon: after three years of each twelve months, follows always a year with thirteen months. There are female fortune tellers in the country, or witches who won't harm anybody. They examine whether a deceased died peacefully or not. And if he has been buried on the right spot. Is this not the case according to them, then the corps is exhumed and reburied somewhere else. So it happens sometimes that a corps is replaced three times.
After the death of the parents and after the burial rites have been performed, the eldest son gets the house and the accessories. The remaining properties, lands and goods are being divided amongst the other sons. Daughters never inherit anything, not even if they don't have brothers. When an old father becomes 80 years old, he is obliged to hand over all his possessions to his sons, because at that age he is not considered to be able to take care of these in a proper way. Such an old man however is highly esteemed by his sons and is well taken care of.
Moral standards

With regard to the moral standards, it has to be said that the Koreans are not very strict when it comes to mine and thine, they lie and cheat and that's why they can't be trusted. They are proud if they have cheated somebody and they don't think that's a disgrace. That's why they can undo the buy of a horse or a cow even after four months if it becomes clear that the buyer has been cheated. But the sale of a parcel ground or other immovable goods can only be undone if the conveyance has not taken place yet.

On the other hand the Koreans are very gullible. We could fool them with anything. This was particularly true for the monks, who liked to listen to stories about foreign countries and their people. Furthermore they are very cowardly, as it seemed what we have heard from reliable people concerning their behavior during the Japanese invasion, when their king was killed and a great number of cities and villages were destroyed. From Jan Janse Weltevree we heard that when the Tartarians came over the ice and occupied the country, more soldiers hanged themselves in the wood, than had been killed during the battle against the invaders. The Koreans don't consider this to be unworthy. They think that these people who commit suicide are pitiful people, who came into an emergency situation, in which they only could escape by committing suicide.
So it happened quite a few times that when Dutch, English or Portuguese ships on their way to Japan came into Korean waters, Korean war junks who wanted to take possession of these ships returned empty-handed to their base, because the persons on board did it in their trousers out of fear.
They can't see any blood. If a Korean gets wounded during a battle, the others don't know how quickly to leave the battlefield. They also have fear for diseases, especially contagious ones. As soon as somebody gets seriously ill, they take him out of his house, to put him in a small hut of straw, outside the city or village he lives in. Here nobody else visits him other than his next of kin, who brings him food and something to drink. Who doesn't have any next of kin, runs the big risk, in the case of a disease, to be left completely unattended in a hut like that. When somewhere an epidemic breaks out, the entrance to the house of the sick persons is blocked with thorn branches. On top of that they put thorn branches on the roof of the houses to mark them as such.


The only people who have a trade post on Korean soil are the Japanese who own a factory on the southeast side of the city of Pusan. The Japanese who stay there come from the island Tsushima. They import pepper, sapwood, alum, buffalo horn, deer skins and more goods which are imported by us and the Chinese into Japan. Furthermore they have some trade with Peking (=Beijing) and the north of China. The trip to and fro takes three months, which is very costly. That's why only the greatest merchants can undertake these trips. At the foreign trade they usually use linen as a means of trade. The greater merchants use also silver as a means of trade, but the farmers and the common people use rice and grains.
Before the Tartarians took over this country this was a country full of bliss and friskiness. The people did nothing else but eating, drinking and making love. But now they have to pay so much tribute to Tartarians and the Japanese that they have hardly anything to eat in feeble years. It is especially the tribute to the Tartarians who usually personally come to claim it three times a year, which pressures heavily on the economy of the country.

World Orientation

The Koreans believe that there are only twelve countries or kingdoms in the world, which were all once subordinate to the emperor of China and had to pay tribute to him. But that all these countries have liberated themselves in the meantime, because the Tartarians couldn't conquer them. They call the Tartarians Tieckese (looks like the Chinese: Chong Kwo ) and Orankaij [barbarians], they call our country Nampankuk, [Southern Country] which is the name which the Japanese gave to Portugal. Because we look in their eyes the same as the Portuguese, the Koreans give us the same name. They learned the name from the Japanese already some 50 years ago, when they came to teach them how to grow tobacco. The Japanese claimed that the seed of the tobacco plant came from Nampankuk. That's why the Koreans usually call tobacco Nampankoy. In this country they smoke a lot, both men and women. And they start early with it. Many a time I saw a four-year-old toddler smoke a pipe.
In their old scriptures it is written that there are in total 84000 countries in the world. The Koreans consider this to be a fable. They say this number has to include all the islands, isles, cliffs and rocks, because it would be impossible for the sun to shine on all these countries in one twenty-four hour period. If we mentioned a number of countries they laughed and said this had to be the names of cities and villages. Because their maps didn't reach further than Siam (=Thailand)

Vegetable and mineral products

This country can maintain in it's own needs. It has an abundance of rice and other grain. Furthermore it produces cotton, hemp and flax. There are a lot of silkworms, though the Koreans don't know the art to spin silk yarns sufficiently to weave cloths of highest quality.
Also silver, iron and lead is taken from the soil. From the wild regions they get various kinds of fur and the ginseng root. There are enough medicinal herbs, though that's useless for the common man. They can't afford a doctor and that's why they go to a fortune teller or clairvoyant if they are sick. These advise normally to ask help from the Gods by bringing offerings on the mountains, alongside the rivers or on the rocks. They also call sometimes for the devil. The latter thing is not done so often lately, because the king has forbidden the devil worshipping in 1662.

Weights and measures

There exists one uniform system of measures and weights that counts for all of the country. But little merchants and hagglers often work with inaccurate weights and measures. It's true that in each province a strict control is being practiced, but obviously the deceit that is committed with counterfeit weights and measures, is never to be wiped out. They know of no other coined money then the "kassis" and this is only accepted as a legal currency in the area close to the Chinese border. In the rest of the country for the wholesale, small blocks of silver are being used as a means of payment. These exist in various weights. Retailers manage with rice and linen as a means of payment.


In Korea there are many horses and cattle. The horses are used for the transportation of persons and goods. They use cattle to pull the plough, the cows as well as the bulls. In the north of the country there are tigers. The fur is exported to China and Japan. Furthermore there are bears, deer, pigs, boars, dogs, cats, all kind of snakes, swans, geese, chickens storks, herons, crane birds, eagles, falcons, magpies, crows, cuckoos, pigeons, snipes, pheasants, larks, finches, thrushes, lapwings, harriers and many other kind of birds.

Language and literature

Korean is very hard to learn. It doesn't look like any other language. Moreover, this language is pronounced in different ways. The important people and scholars usually speak slowly, little merchants on the contrary very fast. The common man is somewhat in between. The language is written in three different ways: in the first place there is the script, with which the books are being printed. This script looks like that of the Chinese and the Japanese. The second type looks more like our script. This is used by the governors and other high administrators, when they answer petitions or correspond with each other. The common man can't read this. And finally there is the third type. This is being used by women and simple men. It is very easy to learn and one can write something with it very easily. This is done with a small pencil and they are very handy at it.
The Koreans possess many very old books of which some are printed and some are written by hand. They value this very much, proven by the fact the brother of the king supervises this. In several cities and fortresses, copies and printing plates of these books are being kept, so that in case of fire they won't be lost completely. Their almanacs are made in the Chinese language, since they don't know the art to make them by themselves. Printing of a book is done with wooden plates. On both sides of a sheet a plate is placed.


The Koreans count with wooden sticks. They have no knowledge of bookkeeping. If they buy something, they write down how much they paid for it. Underneath they write down the amount for which they sold it. By subtracting these numbers, they see how much profit or loss they have made.

The king takes a ride.

When the king takes a ride, he is surrounded by all his noblemen of the court. These are dressed in black silk garments, on which both on the front or back a coat of arms and emblems have been embroidered and over which they wear a wide sash. In front of the parade are the horsemen and infantry with a lot of flags and music, who receive a ration from the king, dressed in their most beautiful garments. Behind them follows the body guard of the king, selected from the most important civilians of the city. In their midst the king sits in his sedan chair which is beautifully decorated and gilded. If he passes by it becomes so silent that you only hear the stamping of the horses and foot steps of the soldiers.
Right in front of the king rides a secretary of state or an other high official. He carries a little chest in which one places the requests, which are handed over from the public on a long bamboo stem. There are also requests hanging on the walls where the king passes. All these requests the secretary puts in that little chest. These requests concern the injustice the requestant experienced by the government or other civilians, or punishments laid upon innocent friends or relatives and many other cases. When the king is back in his palace, the secretary hands him over the little chest with the requests. The king makes a verdict which is final and irrevocable. This verdict is executed immediately.
The streets, which the king passes, are closed at both ends. Nobody is allowed to open a door or window or look over a wall or fence. Highly placed and the military whom are passed by the king, have to stand with their backs turned to him and are not allowed to look around, or even allowed to cough. That's why the soldiers usually put a stick in their mouth, like the bit of a horse, to make no sound at all.

Visit of the Tartarian envoy

When the Tartarian envoy visits the country, the king personally has to ride toward him with all his noblemen to pledge the necessary honor. He accompanies him to his accommodation. Music is made during this, while clowns show their tricks. In fact the envoy is shown more respect than the king himself, when he rides out.

In the parade which accompanies the envoy, also old pieces of arts are carried along and during the stay of the envoy, the street from his residency to the court is closed off by soldiers. These are lined up in long rows, two or three fathoms apart from each other. There are also two or three men who do nothing else then bringing notes which come from the residency to their king, so he knows any moment what the envoy is doing. Furthermore they do everything in their power to please the envoy, so he takes favorable messages about them to the emperor in Peking.
How it continued.

The journal of Hendrick Hamel ends as follows.

On October 23, 1666 Mr. Volger left with seven ships from the bay of Nagasaki. We were very sad when we saw the ships leave. Because we had hoped to leave together with the chief to Batavia. This was us however not granted by the governor of Nagasaki. So we were forced to stay one year longer on Deshima.

On October 25, we were taken by the interpreter from the island and taken to the governor. Here a number of questions were asked which we answered to our best knowledge.
On October 22, 1667, round noon we got permission from the new governor to leave. And so we lifted anchor at the break of dawn and left the bay of Nagasaki.
On... we arrived at the port of Batavia, thanking the good Lord that He released us after these distressful wanderings of more than fourteen years released us from the hands of the heathens.
(Since Hamel wrote his journal on Deshima, he wrote on the last day October 23 as the day of departure. On which day he would arrive, he didn't know. Why he didn't fill in this date later is not clear. Anyhow on this place the manuscript shows a gap. The date which was supposed to be written here was 28 November 1667)

From what is mentioned above, it appears that the "distressful wanderings" of Hendrick Hamel and company did not end in October 1666. They were obliged to stay exactly one more year on Deshima. That can't be such a pleasant stay. Deshima was a very small artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki. It was connected by a bridge to the mainland. The Hollanders were only allowed to pass this bridge with the permission from the Japanese. And this permission was rarely granted. Only when the Japanese wanted to ask the Hollanders something or wanted to say something, a small delegation was allowed to pass the bridge. Deshima was exactly one hectare big. It was a long, small piece of land, on which there was one street, with houses on both sides. It was constructed by the Japanese in 1635-36, especially with the purpose to accommodate foreigners - barbarians- with whom the Japanese wanted to trade. (Click here for a detailed map of Deshima)

The isle was originally meant for the Portuguese. These however, were driven out in 1638, because they had tried to convert the Japanese to Christianity. Some years later it was assigned to the Hollanders because they declared not to be Christian, or at least not to nourish the intention to undertake any missionary activities.

Till 1641 the Hollanders owned a factory on Hirado. This is a much bigger island which is North of Nagasaki. In the archives of the VOC, this is called a lodge. This term is being used more often and seems to mean something like an enclave. The Hollanders were on this island for 38 years, from 1603 till 1641. They had much more liberty to move over there.

But in 1641 the Hollanders had to move to Deshima. The removal lasted from 12th till 24th of June and on June 25, 1641 the chief Le Maire of Hirado came for once and for all to Nagasaki. The isle was completely packed. There were offices, warehouses and furthermore houses for the handful of servants of the VOC, who stayed for a longer period of time on the isle. The leading person was the chief, who was assisted by a second person and an assistant. The chief lived in a rather spacious accommodation, which was beautifully furnished. The rest of the servants lived in little houses, which were more like barracks.

There were some guest houses as well, destined for the officers of the ships of the Company which were moored in the port. In one of those houses Hamel and his companions were accommodated. Probably they didn't have much space and little privacy and that it was a boring place to stay appears from the following: "... come previously mentioned ships here for Schisima or the Compagnie's residence to drop anchor" (Daily Reg. Japan August 14, 1646).

The Hollanders were not allowed to practice the Christian religion on Deshima. Thus there was no church and no minister. They were not even allowed to bury their deceased. There was hardly any space for that as well. Deceased had to be thrown over board, five miles off the coast. From each ship which moored in the roadstead, the sails and the rudder had to be handed over to the Japanese. This to prevent that they would leave without permission. The bibles and guns had to be handed in as well. The pieces of artillery on board were locked.

Provision was partly supplied by the ships of the Company and partly bought from the Japanese, amongst others chickens, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits. On Deshima they were most likely not troubled by scurvy. They were troubled however by venereal diseases. The chief proclaimed in one of his official documents to Batavia, that the servants of the Company got these diseases from the Japanese prostitutes, who crossed the bridge regularly. In a daily report from the chief, dated August 19, 1641, is written: "De Japanders verordonneerden dat geene Hollanders sonder vragen van't Eiland vermochten te gaan. Dat wel hoeren, maar geene andere vrouwen, Japanse papen noch bedelaers op 't Eiland mochten comen" (The Japanese ordered that no Dutchman was allowed to leave the isle without permission. Whores were allowed, but no other women, Japanese clergymen nor beggars).

The stories, which these, as from the air descended fellow countrymen could cough up, were pre-elementally suitable to appeal to one's imagination and were a joy to hear. They knew after all to tell something about an eastern country where, as far as one knew, no other European has been. The castaways could however tell about their thirteen-year experiences, during which they had almost complete freedom, the story of the lives that they and their companions had lived. Starting with the shipwreck and the life they lead on the island and after that about their lives on the mainland of Korea. These stories will have been followed with suspense. The story of the experiences, their adventurous flight and especially their meeting with a fellow countryman, who stranded a quarter century before them in Korea, will have made a deep impression.
In the official everyday life, the Japanese behaved themselves correctly but with a haughty air. From Japanese sources is known that they considered the Hollanders as unmannered barbarians, who smelled unpleasantly. As seemed from the correspondence, which they had with the Korean administrators, they considered Holland as a vassal state, though they had only a vague idea where the country was located. Civilians from a vassal state ought to behave themselves like that. They had to approach the Japanese humbly and respectfully.

This was already the case when the Hollanders were still on Hirado. In an Instruction from the Heeren XVII of May 31, 1633, to the presiding chief Nicolaes Couckebacker we read:
De Hollanders moeten de Jappanders na de mondt sien en, om den Handel onbecommert te gauderen, alles verdragen. Dat hij sich in alle sijnen handel, wandel ende civilen ommeganck zoo lieftallig, vrundelijck ende nederig tegen allen en een ieder, soowel groot als clijn, sal hebben te comporteren dat hij bij de Japanse natie, die selfs van conditie wonder glorieus is, oock geen grootsheit of hoovaerdij in vreemdelingen can verdragen, bemint ende aengenaem sijn mach. (The Hollanders have to tell the Japanese what they like to hear and, to grant the Trade carefree, bear everything. That he (Couckebacker) behaves himself in all his actions and in civilian contacts, to all and everyone, be it big or small, to compromise himself, that he is beloved and pleased by the Japanese nation, which is of great glorious condition itself and cannot stand grandeur or haughty behavior from foreigners).

Most of the chiefs succeeded in making themselves "beloved and pleased" by buttering up the Japanese. When, from their reports it seemed that there were frictions, then the chief in question was replaced quickly.

There is a world of difference between the conduct of the Dutch on Deshima and their attitude towards the locals elsewhere in southeast Asia. The contracts which the Company entered the local chiefs into, were mostly only advantageous for the Company and, if they were good contracts, they were dishonestly carried out. Extortion and corruption were common practice and if the 'savages' dared to resist violently against the Company, it hit back hard-handedly.

On the island of Formosa, the Chinese had attacked the Dutch settlement 'Provintien' and killed eight servants of the Company. As an action of revenge the military was sent out and in twelve days time a true massacre was performed amongst the Chinese. An official statement of December 24, 1652, says the following; "Soo werden in den tijt van 12 dagen tusschen de 3 a 4 duisendt rebellige Chineesen in wederwraeck van het verghoten Nederlants Christenbloet on 't leven gebracht." (And so in a time of twelve days, between the two and three thousand Chinese were killed as a revenge for the shredding of Dutch Christian blood)

Nevertheless the results from the trade of Deshima were not less advantageous for the Company than the trade of Taiwan. The different approach the Hollanders had towards the Japanese didn't do any harm to the Company. In several reports one can read that the trade with the Japanese was 'seer profijtelijck' (very profitable). So with buttering up, one could make obviously as much profit as with blood shedding.

One may wonder why the Japanese didn't allow Hendrick Hamel and his companions to leave as fast as possible. This was in connection with what the chief called "den Japanchen precisiteyt" (the Japanese preciseness). The castaways had hoped they could leave on October 23, 1666 with the Esperance to Batavia. But despite repeated oral and written requests by representatives of the Company, the required permission stayed out.

Only on October 22, of the following year this license was handed out, which made an end to the second imprisonment of Hamel and co. On the same day they boarded on the moored ship the Spreeuw (starling). This fluitschip (= kind of freighter with three masts) arrived on at Batavia November 28, 1667.

Why did the permission for Hamel and co. to leave from Nagasaki stayed out so long? What did the Japanese authorities do in the meantime? The written report of the interrogation which was taken from the Hollanders, was sent by the governor of Nagasaki to Yedo to get the required permission. Only the transportation of this report took some time.

The state government didn't react immediately. They wanted to verify the answers which the castaways had given. Therefore they started a correspondence with the Korean government. This was a time-consuming procedure. The complicated protocol made it impossible that the Shogunate corresponded directly with the Koreans and as an intermediate the Daimyo of Tsusima was appointed. This was obvious because he already traded for a long period of time with Korea. The Daimyo owned a small enclave in Pusan. There was a small harbor, near Tongnae, where to the Daimyo was allowed to send yearly 21 ships.

What the Japanese would like to know, was if there were any Christians hidden amongst Hamel and co. That's why the Daimyo sent a letter to the authorities in Pusan.

We have respectfully received a lofty command (from Edo) to dispatch en envoy to ascertain the real circumstances of these people. Considering that they have long dwelled within your honorable boundaries, it must be surely known to you whether they are proper people or heathen......... Other details have been entrusted to our junior messengers Tachibana Narutomo and (Fujiwara?) Naramasa to deliver orally.

This official report had first to be translated into Korean, which took some time. Then the authorities in Pusan had to contact the governor of the province, because they didn't have the right themselves to have written contact with the Japanese. The governor sent the letter to Seoul , where it caused a lot of concern. It took a lot of thinking how to respond to the letter. At that moment it was not known in Seoul that the Hollanders had escaped. The governor of the southern province had kept the news of the escape behind as a way of precaution. One had assured him that the Hollanders would never succeed in reaching Japan in such a small boat. They would vanish without trace.

The tone in which the oral information was given by the Japanese representative in Tongnae was by far not as courteous as that in the letter. He demanded in an arrogant tone from the mayor of Pusan, that he should take care that the Japanese government should get the answers to the following questions as soon as possible:

Is it true that thirteen years ago a ship from Holland stranded off the coast of Korea and that you stole the cargo? Don't you know that every foreign ship, that strands off the coast of Korea, immediately has to be reported to the authorities of Japan? You do know that Holland is a vassal state of Japan?

The tough tone from this oral questioning was meant to speed up the Koreans. This was a procedure which was much used by the Japanese. They always sent very courteous and highly formal official reports, and ordered one of their representatives to hit the table in an oral conversation in an intimidating way. The questions were written down by the mayor and handed over to the governor of the province. Frightened, he sent them to Seoul. The Korean government answered by return.

Indeed a ship was stranded thirteen years ago, but we didn't steal the cargo. It was given back to the shipwrecked persons. In our opinion only the stranding of Chinese ships has to be reported to Japan. How could we know that Holland is a Japanese vassal state. These people were not dressed in a Japanese way. And they spoke nor understood Japanese. They claimed never to have been there.

Shortly there after the Korean authorities formulated an official answer to the letter of the Daimyo of Tsushima. This started with the usual courtesy phrases and continued in the following way.

In the year 1653 a foreign ship stranded in front of the coast of the southern island. Half of the crew drowned. Thirty-six persons survived the shipwrecking. Nobody understood their language nor could read their handwriting. They stayed here for fourteen years. They supported themselves with fishing and chopping wood. They have never been caught trying to preach the doctrine of Jesus or to pollute in any other way the people with pernicious ideas. Would this have been the case, then we would not have hesitated to inform you immediately. If these barbarians were really Christians they wouldn't have fled to Japan. They were namely told that followers of Jesus were killed instantaneously. There are still eight barbarians in our country. When you appreciate that, you can see these and if necessary, interrogate them.

Then the letter ended with the usual assurance of the highest esteem and the deepest respect which the Koreans nourished for their Japanese brothers. This answer satisfied the Japanese. They were now at ease and doubted no longer that the Hollanders were no Christians. Now they could fulfill the repeated request from the chief of Deshima. Hamel and co. got their permission to leave Deshima and the Daimyo wrote the following to the Koreans:
Recently we asked information about a vessel that stranded thirteen years ago off the coast of Korea. We understood that there are still eight of these people in your country. Since they are subject of a vassal state of our country, we request you to promote that these people are transferred to our island.

This letter was brought to Tongnae by a Japanese messenger, where it is handed over to the Korean commander in April or May 1668. He sent the letter to the court in Seoul. The king and his Crown council were immediately willing to grant the request. They seemed to be happy to be freed from the cursed Hollanders.

Instructions were sent to Cholla, where the Hollander were residing. And a letter was sent to the Japanese. In this the following was written: Of the eight Hollanders, one died last year. Seven are still alive. These will be taken to Tongnae and handed over to your envoy.

In August 1668 the seven arrived at the island of Tsushima. Here the Daimyo took care that they were transported to Nagasaki. After a difficult journey , they arrived there on September 16. In the daily records of Deshima the names of the ones who returned are written down on that day. They are the same names as mentioned by Hamel at the end of the interrogation by the Japanese in 1666. From Jan Claeszen , cook, coming from Dordrecht, is written that he died two years before in Namwon in the south of Korea.

But in the book Noord en Oost Tartarije (North and East Tartary) by Nicolaes Witsen , 2nd print Amsterdam 1705, is written in part I on page 53, that Jan Claeszen was, at that moment, alive and kicking. He however preferred to stay in Korea. "Hij was aldaer getrouwt en gaf geen hair aen zijn lyf meer te hebben dat na een Christen of Nederlander geleek." (He was married there and declared to have no hair on his body that looked like a Christian or Nederlander [Dutchman]).

Nicolaes Witsen was an old esteemed administrator of the VOC, a scion or a jack of all trades, who occupied several functions for the VOC and was 13 times Mayor of Amsterdam between 1682 and 1705. While writing his book he consulted many written sources, which were not always equally reliable. But he also spoke with people who have been in the service of the VOC, to verify one and the other. For the description of the adventure of Hamel and his mates he used the Journael. This is proven by the fact that he has taken over, unaltered, some of the mistakes which occurred in the edition which he used. Besides that he has had contact with Meester (master) Mattheus Eibocken, who was a sub-barber in that time on board of the Sperwer. One may assume that everything which doesn't occur in the Journael, is written down by him from the mouth of this sub-barber.

In order not to be troubled by the Japanese the Koreans will have written down in their report that Jan Claeszen had died. For the same reason his seven mates will have confirmed this message. They wanted to avoid the risk that they would not get permission from the Japanese to return homeward. And so this fake message entered the records of the VOC. But according to Witsen, Jan Claeszen was not the only person on the Sperwer who married in that country and had children. Witsen writes: "Kinderen en wijven, die enige daer getrouwt hadden, verlieten ze." (They left children and wives, whom they have married).

Hoetink writes in the introduction to the scientific text edition of the Journael that here and there in Korea inboorlingen (natives, but in a disdainful way) have been found with blond hair and blue eyes. He considers it however not certain that these blond Koreans are descendants from the crew of the Sperwer. Hoetink keeps it in account that the possibility exists that other white sailors landed in Korea who "eveneens omgang hebben gehad met de vrouwen des lands" (also contacted the women of the country). This however is not likely. Hoetink himself is writing about "de afzondering waarin Korea heeft volhard na 't vertrek van de Nederlanders " (the seclusion in which Korea persisted after the departure of the Dutchmen) and adds that "eerst aan het eind van de vorige eeuw Korea gedwongen werd zijn poorten voor vreemdelingen to ontsluiten" (first at the end of the last century Korea was forced to open its gates for foreigners) (1876). But as mentioned before, we do know some other foreigners DID enter the country.

This opening up was only related to the trade. Puritanism, racist prejudices and hate of foreigners prevented also after this year sexual relations between Koreans and Westerners. Only during and after the Korean war children of mixed blood were born in Korea. (1950-1953) Genetically speaking, only the third generation would have the possibility of having children with the characteristics of the first generation, presuming that dark dominates light.

From this one may conclude that all blue-eyed, blond Koreans of whom the father was demonstrably not a UN-military who was in service during that war, is a descendent of the crew of the Sperwer.

This statement is supported by a research recently done by dr. Tae Jin Kim, (Kim Tae Jin, who I met at the Dutch embassy in Seoul ) head of the library of the Chonnam University at Kwangju, the capital of the province of Cholla (Thiellado according to Hamel) In an article of the NRC Handelsblad of January 4, 1988 is written about this research:
Al zes jaar lang brengt Tae Jin Kim een groot deel van zijn vrije tijd door met onderzoek naar nazaten van de 17e eeuwse Hollandse schipbreukelingen, die op een eilandje voor de kust aanspoelden. Volgens hem trouwden ze tijdens hun langdurig verblijf in Cholla met Koreaanse vrouwen en zorgden voor een nageslacht met gemengd bloed. "Mensen zijn ontsteld, ja diep geschokt, als ik alleen al suggereer dat ze misschien wel van Hollanders afstammen," zegt Tae. "Ik heb nog niemand gevonden die het wil toegeven, ook al weet ik van sommige families voor bijna 100% zeker dat ze Hollands bloed in de aderen hebben"
Already for six years Tae Jin Kim spends a big part of his free time with researching the descendants of the 17-century Dutch crew who shipwrecked and washed ashore at an island off the coast. According to him they married during their long stay in Cholla with Korean women and provided an offspring of mixed blood. "People are dismayed, yes even deeply shocked, when I only suggest that they might have descended from the Hollanders " says Tae. I've yet not found anybody who wants to admit it, though I'm almost certain for 100% that they have Dutch blood in their veins."
The newspaper article continues with the remark that 'according to the Journael of Hendrick Hamel only one crewmember stayed behind in Cholla, because he married in the meantime and he had no hair on his body which was still Christian'.

We know that this message is not written in the Journael of Hendrick Hamel but in the book Noord en Oost Tartarije of Nicolaes Witsen. The source however is less important then the contents. It is placed in the newspaper article against the remark of dr. Tae Jin Kim that the greater part of the sixteen Hollanders who lived in the province of Cholla, fathered children in the villages of Pyongyong, Sunchon, Namwon and Shinsong. He bases this theorem not only on the presence in these villages of many blond and blue-eyed Koreans, but also on the fact that most of them bear the surname Nam. Nam means in Korean South. Nam is not an unusual family name in Korea. There are three branches. Two of them already existed before the arrival of Hamel and his companions, but the third finds his roots over here.

Hamel mentions in his Journael that the Hollanders when they were placed into the bodyguard of the king, they received Korean names. From the Korean sources (Ledyard) we know that Nam was a name given at least to a few of them. Tae Jin Kim also visited burial places, where he found at least two Hollander surnames. But also corrupted first names, for instance Yon (the Dutch name Jan, pronounced as Yan, is very common in Holland)

He made pictures of the faces of members of the Nam-families in these villages, and compared the facial features with those of other families. Dr. Tae (most likely dr. Kim) also investigated a social-historical research, from which it appeared that in the Nam-family there are remarkably many lawyers, doctors, professors and high military and civilian administrators. Unfortunately he didn't write down the results of his research and he died without leaving any documentation behind.
An example is Nam Il, a North Korean general, originating from Pyongyong , it is said that in the Korean war he saved the village of Pyongyong from destruction.
In July 2000, I went to the places and the place names Hamel writes about and they are exactly pronounced in that way in the local dialect. Pyongyong becomes indeed Pyeingyeing and Namwon hears more like Namman, also Sunchon looks more like Suinschien, Shinsong is indeed pronounced as Saijsingh. Personally I saw that in Pyongyong at least most of the older people there have blue eyes, not bright blue, but brownish blue. However no blond hair. In Yosu I found, while I went to the harbor I saw a small boy, the crown of his hair was blond. From a personal correspondence with one of the people from Pyongyong we read the following:

Around sixty or seventy years after Dutchmen departed from Pyôngyông, Sir. Woo Jae published a world map first time as a local scholar. Of course, he comes from Pyôngyông.

He transcribes from a Korean book called T'am Jin mun hwa (no publisher known, obviously a Xeroxed compilation of papers presented at a lecture about Hamel)
Dr.Kim, Tae Jin focused on researching 'which Korean last name Dutchmen used', 'how they made a living in Pyôngyông', and 'what their relationships to local people were'. Probable last names they might use are either "Nam" or "Nam-koong" in fact; a written record has it that one of the Nam family's ancestors made an effort to develop firearms.
According to Late Park, Yong Hoo, several skeletal bones were found at
"Melke" Beach 60 or 70 years ago. These bones must have belonged to the Westerners based on their size.
Mr. Kim, Bong Ok believed that Hamel and his gangs could have lived at Prince Kwanghae's house in Cheju.
Dr.Choi, Sang Soo suspects that Dutchmen may have lived somewhere near the 'Su So Moon' Dong in Seoul because the training school where they were assigned (for a post) is located in 'Dong Dae Moon' Stadium.

More information on the subject:

Jan Boonstra's in search of traces
or (in Korean)
A site about the name Nam in general

Of course there are still more things to investigate. In the course of research I came upon the following things:
1.One day a Korean song was heard with the tune of a traditional Dutch tune. It was said to be a traditional Korean song.
2.The origin of the word Hollan Hada, which means confused in Korean hollan is a compound of two Chinese characters, their Korean pronunciations being hon and lan, both of which mean confusion or disorder "Doing Hollands" ?
3.Why do Koreans call their mother Omma, (the Dutch word for grandmother is Oma), their elder brother Oppa (the Dutch word for grandfather is Opa), toktok in Korean means smart, didn't the Dutch fool them when they mentioned that somebody was toctoc, (which means fool) Probably there are more words with a similar background; it would be interesting for a linguistic expert to investigate those things.
4. In Pyongyong, Kangjin in Cholla Province, the people wear wooden shoes, which are made in the same way as the Dutch do, made of one piece of wood, but with high heels.
Follow this link to read another article, found in a newsgroup.

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