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Reconstructed Joseon ship to set sail for Tsushima Island festival

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : June 19, 2023 - 13:40

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The Joseon Tongsinsa, reconstructed in 2018 (CHA) The Joseon Tongsinsa, reconstructed in 2018 (CHA)

A reconstructed Joseon-era ship, the Joseon Tongsinsa, originally built for emissaries to sail to Japan, will cross the Korea Strait in time for Japan's regional festival on Tsushima Island in August.

The National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage, who was responsible for the reconstruction of the Joseon Tongsinsa ship, forged multilateral agreements with the Busan Cultural Foundation, Tsushima City and the Izuhara Port Festival Promotion Association on Friday at Japan's Tsushima City Hall.

The Joseon Tongsinsa missions were diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the Joseon royal court to foster goodwill and restore diplomatic relations with the Edo Shogunate, the military government of Japan during the period.

Spanning from the 17th to the 19th century, these missions were aimed at mending the strained ties between the two nations, which had been affected by the Japanese invasion of Korea between 1592 and 1598. Through the Tongsinsa missions, the Joseon court sought to rebuild trust, promote cultural exchange and establish a foundation for peaceful coexistence between Korea and Japan.

From 1607 to 1811, Joseon dispatched envoys on 12 separate occasions, with each expedition involving a convoy of six ships. Approximately 400 to 500 participants on the ship were government officials, interpreters and medical experts.

The envoys embarked on an arduous journey covering a distance of some 2,000 kilometers. Initially, the envoys traveled overland from Seoul to the coastal city of Busan in South Korea, where they set sail for Japan, marking the official commencement of their diplomatic mission.

Reconstructed Joseon Tongsinsa (CHA) Reconstructed Joseon Tongsinsa (CHA)

In 2018, the research institute successfully reconstructed the new Joseon Tongsinsa based on archival records that contained detailed information about the ship. Weighing 149 tons, the vessel spans a length of 34.5 meters and has a width of 9.3 meters.

The Izuhara Port Festival started in 1964.

Due to Tsushima's close proximity to Korea and its historical role as Japan's primary point of contact with the Joseon Tongsinsa missions, the festival has fostered cultural and regional exchanges since 1980. The annual event takes place on the first Saturday and Sunday of August, and lands on Aug. 5-6 this year.

"After this year, we are considering broadening the horizons of Joseon Tongsinsa's future journeys by hopefully including Shimonoseki and Osaka as the next places to visit," a researcher at the NRIMCH said.