18th Century Jeju in the Tamna Sullyeokdo

During the Joseon dynasty, the island of Jeju was one among several large administrative districts in the nation called a ‘mok’. Jeju-mok, as with other such districts, was governed by an official who held the title of ‘moksa’. It was standard practice for these governors to make an official inspection tour of the region under their charge once they had taken office. Lee Hyeong-sang was appointed to the position of Jeju moksa in June of 1702. He left what is now Jeju City on October 29 of that year and headed east; by November 19 he had completed a full circuit of the island. 

Governor Lee Hyeong-sang / Photo: Jeju Provincial Givernment

We are fortunate that Governor Lee took a painter named Kim Nam-gil with him to produce an illustrated record of his inspection tour, and that the document has survived intact for over 300 years. Known as the Tamna Sullyeokdo, this compilation of paintings, maps and descriptions of the culture and geography of the island and the events attended by the governor give us an invaluable glimpse into Jeju in the 18th century. 

Photo: Jeju Provincial Government

Accompanied by a large entourage of officials, the governor oversaw military drills and inspected the troops stationed at Jeju’s military forts and its three walled towns. Important information such as the number of civilians, soldiers and weapons at each location was recorded along with the number of cows, horses and their caretakers, agricultural fields and rice paddies, and the amount of grain held in storage. There are illustrations of archery contests attended by the governor and his inspection of horses and tangerines to be sent as tribute to the capital.

Photo: Jeju Provincial Government

The Tamna Sullyeokdo is under consideration for designation as a National Treasure. It is currently on loan to the Jeju National Museum, and they’re planning a special exhibition to be held from November 10 to February 14 of next year to promote awareness of the value of this wonderful piece of history. Be sure to go and check it out!

Photo: Jeju Provincial Government

There is a lot of information and many more pictures of the Tamna Sullyeokdo are available at the Jeju Provincial Government’s website.

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