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This paper surveys the experiences of and attitudes about Western civilization by analyzing the travel records of the Korean embassies dispatched to Western Europe from 1896 to 1902. Since these were important diplomatic missions of the Joseon government, personal expression of emotions was restrained in the travel records and the objective fact-centered description was given a great deal of weight. Nevertheless, there appear some differences in the travel records based upon the writer’s intention of consciousness and descriptive attitude. In Min Yeong-hwan’s Haecheon chubeom (1896), the so-called first record of a round-the-world trip, his admiration and praise of Western urban culture and scientific civilization appear openly. It shows an aspect of Occidentalism because it projected and was selectively composed of the standard of civilization that he had imagined and desired, one which uncivilized Joseon should strive for in the future. In Sagu sokcho (1897), recorded the next year, Min Yeong-hwan shows an interest in the lifestyle of various peoples in the world, the cultural climate, and natural environment using a rather objective viewpoint, but there still exists a dichotomy between civilization and barbarism. Lee Jong-eung’s Seosarok (1902) is a bit freer from such prejudices because it interprets Western civilization based on the classics of the East.


This paper surveys the experiences of and attitudes about Western civilization by analyzing the travel records of the Korean embassies dispatched to Western Europe from 1896 to 1902. Since these were important diplomatic missions of the Joseon government, personal expression of emotions was restrained in the travel records and the objective fact-centered description was given a great deal of weight. Nevertheless, there appear some differences in the travel records based upon the writer’s intention of consciousness and descriptive attitude. In Min Yeong-hwan’s Haecheon chubeom (1896), the so-called first record of a round-the-world trip, his admiration and praise of Western urban culture and scientific civilization appear openly. It shows an aspect of Occidentalism because it projected and was selectively composed of the standard of civilization that he had imagined and desired, one which uncivilized Joseon should strive for in the future. In Sagu sokcho (1897), recorded the next year, Min Yeong-hwan shows an interest in the lifestyle of various peoples in the world, the cultural climate, and natural environment using a rather objective viewpoint, but there still exists a dichotomy between civilization and barbarism. Lee Jong-eung’s Seosarok (1902) is a bit freer from such prejudices because it interprets Western civilization based on the classics of the East.