Organized Panel Session
This paper examines Korean envoys’ depictions of Manchurian topography in the early to mid-Qing period. While the records of Korean embassies to China have recently received much scholarly attention, envoys’ topographical knowledge of Manchuria remains largely unexplored. Primarily drawing on writings of Korean envoys who travelled through Manchuria from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, I will assess the manner in which the topography of Manchuria was experienced, imagined, and compared with the environment of Korea’s peninsular northwest. Among the Korean scholars who depicted the natural features of Manchuria, I will pay particular attention to Kim Yuk (1580-1658) and Pak Chega (1750-1805). They both personally observed the terrain of Manchuria and the Korean peninsula and sharply criticized those at the Chosŏn court who asserted that wheeled vehicles were ill-suited to Korea’s mountainous terrain. By analyzing writings of Kim Yuk, Pak Chega, and other scholars, this paper will not only highlight how Korean scholars imagined and described the geographical space between China and Korea. It will also illuminate the ways in which traveling shaped their ideas and observations about Manchuria, which played a central role in defining their cultural identity in relation to China under Manchu rule.