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Research Article

Journal of Ginseng Culture 2021; 3(1): 11-37

Published online March 2, 2021

https://doi.org/10.23076/jgc.2021.3.011

© Korean Society of Gingseng

『세종실록』을 통해 본 고려인삼

주승재

서울대학교 약학대학

Received: December 9, 2020; Revised: January 17, 2021; Accepted: January 23, 2021

Korean Ginseng in "The Veritable Records of King Sejong

Joo, Seungjae

College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University

Correspondence to :
College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University
Email:zoosjj@snu.ac.kr

Received: December 9, 2020; Revised: January 17, 2021; Accepted: January 23, 2021

This is an Open Access journal distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Korean ginseng is the one of the most famous medicinal herbs globally and has long been a representative item of East Asian trade, including across China and Japan. Since Joseon (1392-1910) ginseng trade was entirely controlled by the state, The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty are a valuable resource that can shed light on the history of the ginseng industry at that time. By studying the subsection "The Veritable Records of King Sejong" (世宗實錄), when ginseng was used even more widely, we assess the purpose and scale of its trade in the 15th century, identify its original listing in the geographical appendix, develop a distribution map, and explore similarities to current ginseng cultivation areas. During the reign of King Sejong (1418-1450), ginseng was sent to China as a tribute 101 times, with a combined weight of 7,060 kilograms, with less than one-third of that amount given to Japan and Okinawa. It was used to cover the travel expenses of foreign envoys and servants, but this can be seen to gradually decrease after the regnal mid-term, primarily due to a decrease in the amount of ginseng being collected. At the time, there were 113 areas of naturally growing ginseng as listed in the records' geographical appendix, including 12 recorded in the 'tributes' category: Yeongdeok-gun, Yeongju, and Cheongsong-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do; Ulju-gun and Ulsan in Gyeongsangnam-do; Jeongeup, Wanju-gun, and Jangsu-gun in Jeollabuk-do; Hwasun-gun in Jeollanam-do; Goksan-gun and Sinpyeong-gun in Hwanghaebuk-do; Jeongju and Taecheon-gun in Pyeonganbuk-do; and Jaseong-gun and Junggang-gun in Jagang-do. A total of 101 places are recorded in the 'medicinal herbs' category, located throughout the mountains of the eight Joseon provinces, except the islands. In comparison with current ginseng cultivation sites, many of these historical areas are either consistent with or adjacent to contemporary locations. The geographical appendix to "The Veritable Records of King Sejong" was compiled in the early days of the king's reign (1432) when there was a lot of wild ginseng. The appendix is a valuable resource that indicates the possibility of growing ginseng on the Korean Peninsula in the future. The apparently natural habitats in the south, where ginseng is not currently cultivated, could be candidates for the future. Moreover, areas in the north where ginseng has not been grown, except Kaesǒng, could be a good alternative under sustainable inter-Korean exchange should cultivation sites move north due to climate warming.

Keywords: Korean ginseng , ginseng history , the Geographical Appendix to The Veritable Records of King Sejong , tributes , medicinal herbs , natural habitat , ginseng cultivation site

Article

Research Article

Journal of Ginseng Culture 2021; 3(1): 11-37

Published online March 2, 2021 https://doi.org/10.23076/jgc.2021.3.011

Copyright © Korean Society of Gingseng.

『세종실록』을 통해 본 고려인삼

주승재

서울대학교 약학대학

Received: December 9, 2020; Revised: January 17, 2021; Accepted: January 23, 2021

Korean Ginseng in "The Veritable Records of King Sejong

Joo, Seungjae

College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University

Correspondence to:College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University
Email:zoosjj@snu.ac.kr

Received: December 9, 2020; Revised: January 17, 2021; Accepted: January 23, 2021

This is an Open Access journal distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Korean ginseng is the one of the most famous medicinal herbs globally and has long been a representative item of East Asian trade, including across China and Japan. Since Joseon (1392-1910) ginseng trade was entirely controlled by the state, The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty are a valuable resource that can shed light on the history of the ginseng industry at that time. By studying the subsection "The Veritable Records of King Sejong" (世宗實錄), when ginseng was used even more widely, we assess the purpose and scale of its trade in the 15th century, identify its original listing in the geographical appendix, develop a distribution map, and explore similarities to current ginseng cultivation areas. During the reign of King Sejong (1418-1450), ginseng was sent to China as a tribute 101 times, with a combined weight of 7,060 kilograms, with less than one-third of that amount given to Japan and Okinawa. It was used to cover the travel expenses of foreign envoys and servants, but this can be seen to gradually decrease after the regnal mid-term, primarily due to a decrease in the amount of ginseng being collected. At the time, there were 113 areas of naturally growing ginseng as listed in the records' geographical appendix, including 12 recorded in the 'tributes' category: Yeongdeok-gun, Yeongju, and Cheongsong-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do; Ulju-gun and Ulsan in Gyeongsangnam-do; Jeongeup, Wanju-gun, and Jangsu-gun in Jeollabuk-do; Hwasun-gun in Jeollanam-do; Goksan-gun and Sinpyeong-gun in Hwanghaebuk-do; Jeongju and Taecheon-gun in Pyeonganbuk-do; and Jaseong-gun and Junggang-gun in Jagang-do. A total of 101 places are recorded in the 'medicinal herbs' category, located throughout the mountains of the eight Joseon provinces, except the islands. In comparison with current ginseng cultivation sites, many of these historical areas are either consistent with or adjacent to contemporary locations. The geographical appendix to "The Veritable Records of King Sejong" was compiled in the early days of the king's reign (1432) when there was a lot of wild ginseng. The appendix is a valuable resource that indicates the possibility of growing ginseng on the Korean Peninsula in the future. The apparently natural habitats in the south, where ginseng is not currently cultivated, could be candidates for the future. Moreover, areas in the north where ginseng has not been grown, except Kaesǒng, could be a good alternative under sustainable inter-Korean exchange should cultivation sites move north due to climate warming.

Keywords: Korean ginseng , ginseng history , the Geographical Appendix to The Veritable Records of King Sejong , tributes , medicinal herbs , natural habitat , ginseng cultivation site

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Journal of Ginseng Culture

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