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History of Science in Korea

Jeon Sang-Woon

Publication Year: 2011

Korean science is closely related to traditional Chinese technology, but Jeon Sang-woon's A History of Science and Technology in Koreafollows a different course of development. Building on Chinese foundations, Korean scientists, engineers and technicians developed technologies that were adapted to the natural elements, seasons and climate of the Korean peninsula. the writer develops this thesis by considering the creative legacy of Korean practitioners in a number of different areas: astronomy and meteorology ("the sciences of the heavens"), metal, glass and gunpowder ("the sciences of earth and fire"), printing, geography and carography. He concludes with a comparison of science and technology in Korea and Japan, and with a discussion of important scientists active in the Choson Period. The book is filled with new information and arguments, and frequently with deep insights. Much of what the author says will be useful for professional scholars in the history of science and technology and for general historians as well, as it provides topics for academic debate and fruitful research subjects for young scholars. the lavish illustrations support the writer's thesis and are themselves part of Korea's rich artistic heritage.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-42

Korea is a nation with a 5,000-year history. Due to its location on the periphery of the East Asian cultural belt, Korea had been heavily influenced by Chinese civilizations since ancient times. Nevertheless, Korea has constructed its own unique cultural traditions, independent of those of China. As a cultured people, Koreans established their own original scientific and technological...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 43-156

When gazing at the shining stars in the clear night sky, few people realize that these stars are in constant movement. Th e stars only reveal this mystery to those who observe them carefully. Th e science of the sky began with these vast heavens, infinite stars, the sun, the moon and our planet, the Earth....

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Chapter 2

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pp. 157-236

Chemistry began with the human manipulation of fire. Th rough this event, humans wrought a change in nature with their own hands for the first time. Fire was then used to bake vessels from clay, and later to smelt copper to make metal ware. Th is harmony of fire and earth brought about a transformation that marked the inception of metallurgy. Th e Bronze Age culture of the...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 237-279

In early August 1989, aft er attending the symposium of the International Society for the History of East Asian Science at Cambridge University, I paid a visit to the British Museum. It had been a few years since I had been there last. Despite the extreme heat on that summer day, the museum was swarming with people. People from all regions of the world, speaking various languages, crowded...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 280-340

Kim Chŏng-ho’s Map of the Great Eastern Kingdom (Taedong yŏjido 大東輿 地圖) was the last geographical accomplishment in the history of Korean traditional science. Although it was an isolated achievement that did not continue into modern geography, it is without doubt a great Korean heritage. Th e geography summarized in Taedong yŏjido is, as Kim Chŏng-ho himself declared,...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 341-383

There are many ancient tombs remaining in the vast plain around T’onggu, the old capital of Koguryŏ, and in the vicinity of Pyŏngyang. Th is is the resting place where the spirit of the Koguryŏ people who roamed the vast northeastern area of China lies buried....

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Chapter 6

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pp. 384-425

Yi Ch’ŏn (李蕆, 1376–1451) was a scientist during King Sejong’s reign in the Chosŏn dynasty. He was born in 1376 (Koryŏ King Wu 2), the eldest son of the minister of the Ministry of War, Yi Song.
Aft er passing the military examinations in 1402 (Chosŏn King T’aejong 2), Yi Ch’ŏn began government service as a military offi cer. Displaying innate talent as...


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pp. 426-433

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696061
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971694029

Illustrations: 450 plates
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: New