신증동국여지승람 | Sinjŭng Tongguk yŏji sŭngnam | 新增東國輿地勝覽
Sinjŭng Tongguk yŏji sŭngnam is a representative geographical work compiled and published by government officials in the early Joseon dynasty.
As a historical rarity, Joseon had established a centralized state with officials dispatched to all settlements across the nation, and therefore fostered the development of maps that outlined information on settlements using standardized criteria and formats. The General Map of the Eight Provinces (八道總圖) and nine other maps before the table of contents are beautifully drawn, carved, and printed on woodblock.
During the reign of King Seongjong of the Joseon Dynasty, the Gazetteer of the Ming Dynasty (大 明一統志) was imported from the Ming Dynasty, China. King Seongjong ordered Noh Sa-sin (盧思 愼, 1427–1498), Yang Seong-ji (梁誠之, 1415–1482), Kang Hee-maeng (姜希孟, 1424–1483) and others to establish the foundation for a geographical treatise by collecting various materials including the Gazetteer of the Ming Dynasty and using Newly Compiled Geography of Eight Provinces (新撰八道地理志), compiled in 1432. Thus, Survey of the Geography of Joseon (東國輿地勝覽), comprising 50 chapters, was completed in 1481. In 1486, it was revised and expanded into 35 chapters; later, it was amended in 1499. In 1530, upon revision and enhancement by Yi Haeng (李荇, 1478-1534), Revised and Enlarged Survey of the Geography of Joseon (新增東國輿地勝覽), comprising 55 chapters bound in 25 volumes, was printed in 1531 in Gyechuk movable copper type.
The woodblock print edition at the Claremont Colleges Library is a reprint of the 1531 edition printed in Gyechuk movable copper type, and was published in 1611 (3rd year of King Gwanghaegun’s reign). On the cover, the title reads “Yeojiseungnam (輿地勝覽),” and the total number of volumes, “twenty one (共二十一),” is marked between the fourth and fifth binding holes, indicating this edition is bound in 21 volumes.
One valuable feature of the Claremont copy is that the book was a personal copy owned by 安鼎福 (안정복 An Jeong-bok, 1712-1791), an official / historian in late Jeosen dynasty. A seal that reads “Anjeongbokin (安鼎福印)” is stamped underneath the preface title and also underneath the title of each chapter. Among works compiled by An Jeong-bok is the Annotated Account of the History of the Eastern Kingdom (東史綱目). Prior to the compilation, An Jeong-bok is said to have researched historical documents such as the Chronicles of the Three States and History of Goryeo , annotating the top of the pages as future reference. This book also served as a reference for An, as headnotes are found throughout Chapter 1 to Chapter 55.
For example, the headnote above the State Deities (壇廟 社稷壇) on the front side of page 34 in Chapter 1, “the Military Flag (纛神廟, kr. Doksinmyo)” written in big letters, with the explanation follows in small letters. It says, “In the past, Doksinmyo was located at the southeast side of the city; now it is at the northwest side of the city next to the Ministry of Rites. Ancestral rites are performed four times at Doksinmyo (纛神廟 舊在都城內東南今移城內西北禮曹傍祭四纛).” Therefore, it can be said that prior to compiling the historical work Annotated Account of the History of the Eastern Kingdom, An Jeong-bok first sought historical evidence by referring to other historical documents.
The first volume features the table of contents. Following the compilation standards, the volume starts with the preface of the original edition written in 1481 by Seo Geo-jeong, followed by Noh Sa-sin’s foreword to the king, and a preface of the revised and expanded edition written in 1530 by Yi Haeng followed by another foreword to the king. Next follows a list of public o_cials who participated in compiling this book at the king’ s orders; Noh Sa-sin, Kang Hee-maeng, Seo Geo-jeong, Seong Im (成任, 1421–1484), and Yang Seong-ji, followed by a list of 15 compilers including Jeong Hyo-hang and a list of 24 scholars who participated in the revised and enlarged edition, including Yi Haeng and others, and a list of 23 public officials with the title of chansu (撰修) including Seong Hyeon (成俔, 1469–1494).
From the second volume starts the body of the book beginning with Chapter 1. At the end of the last chapter, Chapter 55, there is an epilogue that was written in 1499 by Im Sa-hong (任士洪, 1445–1506) and epilogues written in 1531 by Hong Eon-pil (洪彦弼, 1476–1549) and Kim Jong-jik (金宗直, 1431–1492), respectively.
All in all, Revised and Enlarged Survey of the Geography of Joseon, which was compiled in early Joseon, is considered an outstanding cultural heritage of Korea, one of the finest in the world.