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A Chinese Traveler in Medieval KoreaXu Jing's Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryo$
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Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856441

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856441.001.0001

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Translator’s Introduction

Translator’s Introduction

(p.1) Translator’s Introduction
A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea
Sem Vermeersch
University of Hawai'i Press

This introduction analyzes the different editions of the Illustrated Account and investigates the author’s background. It also delves into the historical background in which the work was created, so as to explain its characteristics. One of the work’s problems is that although it poses as a witness account of a foreign country, in fact the author bases himself as much on previous sources as on what he sees and hears during his trip. Therefore the introduction also traces the origins of some of its contents, compares with Korean sources, and assesses the biases and blind spots. One of the surprising conclusions to be drawn from this is that the author fails to distinguish properly between Koguryŏ (37 BC–668 AD) and Koryŏ (918–1392), sometimes recycling information that is 1000 years out of date. Also, it is revealed that his image of Koryŏ was manipulated by the Koreans, who tried to create the impression that they were sincerely devoted to Song but had been forced to submit to the “barbarian” Khitan.

Keywords:   travel literature, witness account, Illustrated Account of Koryŏ (Gaoli tujing), diplomatic relations

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