The shape of and information about Korea change drastically, when Hendrick Hamel and his companions returned from their adventures on the Korean peninsula. The Sperwer, with sixty-four men on board left Batavia on June 18 1653. On August 16 1653, the Sperwer was lost in a storm and twenty-eight men perished. Thirty-six survivors, driven ashore on the western coast of Cheju Island, were all interned and spent ten months on the island. One of their biggest surprise was their encounter with their contemporary Jan, Janse Weltevree, a Dutchman in the service of the Korean king. They were transferred to Seoul where they were employed as bodyguards to a general for about three years. They appealed to the King to release them but they were always told that it was not his policy to send foreigners away from his land. The King apparently did not want facts about his country to become known to other nations. Then, when a Manchu envoy came to Seoul, the senior navigator and one sailor approached him in an attempt to return to the Holland by way of China , they were immediately captured and jailed. After this incident, the remaining thirty-four Dutch sailors were transferred to Pyongyong, an army camp near Kangjin in Cholla province.
They lived seven years in Pyongyong and eleven of them died during that period. After three successive famines in 1660, 1661 and 1662, they were divided into three groups since Pyongyong could hardly afford to support them and were sent to Saesong (12 men), Sunchon (5 men) and Namwon (5 men). At the time of their escape attempt, sixteen men were still alive, of whom eight succeeded in reaching Nagasaki. In his section, "Description of the Kingdom of Korea" Hamel's observations on a wide range of subjects with which he came into contact or which caught his observant eye, are described. Hamel examined Korean life and customs from the perspective of his own cultural background, Holland and Western civilization in the seventeenth century. Hamel could make observations at close hand because the Dutch sailors were allowed to go about relatively freely with few restrictions. Moreover, Hamel could observe the lifestyle of upper class people because curiosity prompted these people to invite the Dutch to their homes. Many of Hamel's observations are verifiable either by the looking at established historical facts or observing customs which still survive from former times. (more about the adventures of Hendrick Hamel can be found on the Internet at http://www.henny-savenije.pe.kr where one can find an English and Korean translation of the manuscript and all the 17th-century documents relating to this event and his original manuscript)
When 8 of the 16 escaped, the Heeren XVII (the board of directors of the VOC) were of course interested in possible mercantile contacts with Korea and Hendrick was asked to write down his report by the opperhooft (chief) of the factory in Deshima. For about 200 years this was basically the only information which was available about Korea, and reprinted in many different ways (upon his arrival back in Holland, it was printed already by 3 different Dutch publishers!) while every publisher and translator added his own distortions and fantasies, sometimes to make it more attractive to their readers. But when one goes back to the original manuscript his report appears to be as accurate as possible under the circumstances. He also uses native resources when he mentions the distances from Pusan to Shimonoseki (which has been read by his publishers for a long time as Osaka), but also the length and width of Korea. He uses the "dietse mijl" (Dutch mile) which caused a lot of confusion in translations in later times, since they were translated as German miles, leagues and other contemporary distance measurements. Using these contemporary measures, Dutch cartographers could make accurate measurements.
Hamel already said that the Koreans themselves made maps with Korea shown like an oblong. Though Hamel made no maps himself, his descriptions of the country influenced cartographers. Hamel landed on Cheju-do which appeared on Portuguese maps before as Ilha de Ladrones (island of thieves), but also the Mariana Islands were referred to as the Ladrones.
Interesting in this regard is the fact that Cheju island existed with two different names and was thought to be two islands as well: Fung-ma and Quelpaert island. Quelpaert is probably named after a type of galleon. Though there is no reference to this type of ship other than in the documents from Batavia found in the VOC archives. Unfortunately we will never know for sure, but probably it was the result of a copying error in a document to the east and therefore this type of ship was only known in the east.
Cheju-do was doomed to be called Quelpaert island for the next two centuries thanks to Hamel's document. The Dutch cartography however was already in decline and the Hamel type never made it to the Dutch maps. Due to the fact that he was the first westerner to write an account of Korea, Hamel is called the "discoverer" of Korea.
In connection with Hamel I have to mention briefly Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717). He provides us with much interesting information about Korea in his "Noord en Oost Tartaryen", the second edition. Witsen, whose motto was Labor omnia vincit, was the scion of a prominent and wealthy family in Amsterdam. He studied law, philology, mathematics and astronomy at Leyden University where he took his L.L.D. in 1664. He also applied himself to the study of geography, cartography and hydraulic engineering. He was an able etcher and became a specialist in shipbuilding. In 1697 - 98 he taught this art to Czar Peter the Great who was then studying in the Netherlands. Between 1682 and 1705 he was thirteen times mayor of Amsterdam; he represented that city nearly continuously in the States of Holland and the States General of the Netherlands. As a young man he had also served his country as a diplomat in Moscow." For his description of Korea Witsen made use of the following sources: Martini , Martino, Novus atlas sinensis, Amsterdam 1655; Montanus , Arnoldus, Gedenkwaerdige Gezantschappen aen de Kaisaren van Japan (Memorable Envoys to the Emperors, i.e. Shogun, of Japan), Amsterdam 1669; a report of a court journey (Nagasaki-Edo) made by the Dutch in 1637; a description of Korea by a "certain Slavonic (i.e. Russian) author"; information provided by Anreas Cleyer, chief merchant at Dejima in 1683 and 1686; "a" report from Japan and the account of Hamel's shipwreck. Eye-witness information was furnished by Benedictus Klerk and Master Mattheus Eibokken , two of Hamel's companions-in-distress. Remarkable is the list with Korean words Witsen provides (can be found on my website). In his first (unpublished) edition he had a remarkable image of Korea. See a detail of his Nova Tabula Imperii Russici below: It was supervised by Everardus Ysbrants Ides. Amsterdam. On this map we find Corea, Chausin (=Choson) with Japan in the middle. This map is unique but nevertheless a type: the Witsen-type.
In the second edition he uses the Martini type.
The text in the cartouche of the following map has the following content: corrected from the observation communicated to the Royal Society at London and the Royal Academy at Paris / by John Senex, FRS, at the Globe against Dunstans Church, Fleet Street in London (67cm x 99cm) -- [early 18th Century] 134 Hamel-type
The cartouche on this map contains the following text: Carte de Tartarie, dressee sur les relations de plusieurs voyageurs de differentes nations et sur quelques observations qui ont ete faites dans ce pais la, par Guillaume De l'Isle, premier geog. du Roy de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, a Paris chez l'auteur sur le quai de l'Horloge a l'Aigle d'Or avec privilege, 1706. (51cm x 67.5cm) Hamel-type
After the death of Johannes Janssonius (1664) and Joan Blaeu (1672)
the business in Holland shifted to other people since their descendents
were not as proactive as their parents. The trade was dominated by
5 firms at that time: Nicolaes Visscher I and II, the Danckerts family,
Frederick de Wit, Carel Allard and Petrus Schenk together with Gerard
Valk. They all produced almost identical products, wall maps and
atlas maps. They also sold atlases which they compiled from their
own or other's maps. More original work was provided by Pieter van
der Aa in Leiden and Pieter Mortier who was the first one to bring
a renewal in Dutch map production.