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Corroborative investigation on the First photograph of Korea 
- Mainly about the existing photographs of Korea shot in 1860s' -

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2019, 56(), pp.281-314
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2019.56..281
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : August 10, 2019
  • Accepted : September 3, 2019
  • Published : September 30, 2019

Lee kyoung Ryul 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The introduction and acceptance of photographs in East Asia largely progressed in three: a stage where the principle of photograph was known through literature; a stage where the entity and experience of photography was known through records maintained by foreigners, since photograph was invented in 1839; and the stage where photography was technically accepted by fellow countrymen. By the way, generally speaking, the first photograph of one country refers to the second stage, where photography is known through records. When the first photograph of a country exists as evidence of that country, it is called the first photograph that still exists. 
 The acceptance of photography in Korea did not simply originate with the introduction of photography through commercial trade with foreign countries or forced commercial agreements with Occidental imperialism. In Korea, photography was accepted through historic or unexpected cases. The first photograph of Korea is officially that of the Lee Ui-ik envoy group, taken in 1863. Such acceptance is later than that in China by more than 20 years, mainly because of Chosun's persecution of Catholicism and national isolation policy against foreign culture which was further enhanced following the Opium War in China.
 Photographs of Korea shot and kept by foreigners in which Koreans were subject were recently found. Most of them were shot after 1860s'. Thus, the established theory is that no daguerreotype exists in the history of photography in Korea. However, such affirmation only remains as a record of the national isolation policy at the time. The first photograph of Korea may retroact to the time before 1860s'. Suggesting some hypotheses on this matter, the first possibility is the existence of photographs in which Chosun & Chosun people were shot from a Western vessel that arrived in Chosun for opening doors and trade. In particular, if a photograph had been taken by them to prepare a nautical chart, they may have still been kept in the archives of many museums of the Orient, military articles, maritime museums, map museums, and anthropological museums of Western countries. Meanwhile, the acceptance year of the first photograph in Korea can be further retroacted by studying the archive of photographs of Korean Catholicism, because the trace of historic ordeal of Korean Catholicism left in photographs may be found in unexpected private spaces instead of politic cases. Such photographs can be found through the passion and dedication of researchers as well as voluntary donations from overseas hoarders.

Citation status

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