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Where Is North?Directionality in Precolonial and Colonial Land Surveys in Korea, 1897–1918

Where Is North?Directionality in Precolonial and Colonial Land Surveys in Korea, 1897–1918 We take the cardinal directions for granted, but they are social constructs. Directionality is relative to how we locate central points, and these choices reflect a sense of direction in a society. This article illustrates how the notion of “center” changed in Korean society by comparing land registers of the Korean Empire (1897–1910) and the Japanese colonial period (1910–45). The colonial government prioritized mapping with scale, contours, and cardinal directions. As a result, the entire country was mapped to conform to a procrustean order. By contrast, there had been no cadastral map for centuries prior. Instead, the location of each parcel was described in textual information with four cardinal points. The author argues that fundamental difference between the two notions of “center” lay in the consciousness of the relationship between the human and the natural. The difference was expressed through the contrast in their respective conformity and flexibility, standardization and diversity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies Duke University Press

Where Is North?Directionality in Precolonial and Colonial Land Surveys in Korea, 1897–1918

Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies , Volume 21 (1) – May 1, 2021

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Copyright
Copyright © 2021 Sora Kim
ISSN
1598-2661
eISSN
2586-0380
DOI
10.1215/15982661-8873955
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We take the cardinal directions for granted, but they are social constructs. Directionality is relative to how we locate central points, and these choices reflect a sense of direction in a society. This article illustrates how the notion of “center” changed in Korean society by comparing land registers of the Korean Empire (1897–1910) and the Japanese colonial period (1910–45). The colonial government prioritized mapping with scale, contours, and cardinal directions. As a result, the entire country was mapped to conform to a procrustean order. By contrast, there had been no cadastral map for centuries prior. Instead, the location of each parcel was described in textual information with four cardinal points. The author argues that fundamental difference between the two notions of “center” lay in the consciousness of the relationship between the human and the natural. The difference was expressed through the contrast in their respective conformity and flexibility, standardization and diversity.

Journal

Sungkyun Journal of East Asian StudiesDuke University Press

Published: May 1, 2021

References