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Chosŏn Interpreters as Cultural Brokers: The Example of Kim Kyŏng-mun and the 1722 Mission to Beijing

Lok-yin Law

Pages 279 - 302


The yŏnhaengnok 燕行錄: (records of missions to Beijing) are a
literary genre that allows the exploration of the entanglement of Chinese and
Korean history between the 15th and 19th centuries. As the studies of various
records of the yŏnhaengnok have shown, the authors of this
genre considered interpreters to be their intermediaries for collecting
information or communicating with the Chinese during missions to Beijing.
Interpreters were essential to the missions' operations, facilitating cultural
interaction, but they also shaped Chosŏn's perceptions of Qing China. This
article traces the emergence of Chosŏn official interpreters in the Qing era to
examine how interpreters' cultural and diplomatic practices became significant
in the making of Qing-Chosŏn relations. In particular, this article explores the
role Chosŏn interpreter Kim Kyŏng-mun 金慶門 (1673-1737) played as a cultural
broker on the 1722 yŏnhaengsa mission, taking him as an example
of how interpreters mediated the knowledge that Chosŏn intellectuals received
about China during the yŏnhaengsa missions and how this shaped
their discourse about China. Furthermore, this article contributes to the
reevaluation of the Chosŏn interpreters, conceding them a dominant role instead
of affording them only a marginal position, and it serves to deepen the
understanding of Chosŏn's perception of Qing China during the 18th century.

1 Korean Primary Sources Written in Chinese Chosŏn wangjo sillok 朝鮮王朝實錄 [The Veritable Records of the Chosŏn Dynasty]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1955–1963.

2 Chŏngyuchip 貞蕤集 [Collected works of Pak Cheka 朴齊家]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1961.

3 Kim Ch’ang-ŏp 金昌業. See Yŏnhaeng ilgi.

4 Kim Chi-nam 金指南. See Paekjŏngrok.

5 Koryŏsa 高麗史 [History of Koryŏ], by Chŏng Lin-chi 鄭麟趾. Seoul: Asea, 1972.

6 Kyŏngjong sillok 景宗實錄 [The Veritable Records of King Kyŏngjong’s Reign]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1957.

7 Paekjŏngrok 北征錄 [Records of a Journey to the North], by Kim Chi-nam 金指南, Paeksan hakpo 白山學報 [The Journal of Paeksan Society] 52 (1974), 195–246. Pak Chiwŏn 朴趾源. See Yŏrha ilgi.

8 Sŏngjong sillok 成宗實錄 [The Veritable Records of King Sŏngjong’s Reign]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1956.

9 Sukchong sillok 肅宗實錄 [The Veritable Records of King Sukchong’s Reign]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1957.

10 Sŭngjŏngwŏn ilgi 承政院日記 [Daily Records of the Royal Secretariat]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1961.

11 T’aejo sillok 太祖實錄 [The Veritable Records of King T’aejo’s Reign]. Seoul: Kuksa Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, 1955.

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14 Yŏkkwan bangmok 譯官榜目 [Successful List of Interpretation Examination]. Original copy archived in the Kyujangkak Institute for Korean Studies 奎章閣韓國學硏究院, Seoul National University (古4650-4-v.1-2).

15 Yŏkkwan sangyŏn tŭngrok 譯官上言謄錄 Original copy archived in the Kyujangkak Institute for Korean Studies 奎章閣韓國學硏究院, Seoul National University (奎12963).

16 Yŏn’amjip 燕巖集 [Collected works of Pak Chiwŏn 朴趾源]. Seoul: Kyŏngin Munhwasa, 1974 [rpt. 2000];燕巖集.

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