Hamel and his mates were subsidized
by the state.
This subsidy was provided from the king's income upon
their exile in Jeolla Byeongyeong.
While they received rice of fixed quantity, they had
to look for other things for their sustenance.
They had to wander over the mountain or beg so they
have something to prepare for their meals and provide
for their other necessities
According to Hamel's record, a new military commander
who came on Nov. 1657,rejected their request on the
ground that he had never been ordered by the kingto
provide them anything except for the 50 geun of rice.
Despite their earnest request that was not granted
they have to look for themselves to address their own
Although they received or bought a house, there is no
record that they involved in activity of producing something
to eat. Probably because of their situation or living
conditions, they could not involve in any active production
activity such as farming.
But, the record says that there was a small garden in
their house in Byeongyeong, they might grown their own
Hamel and his mate worked as slave labor or miscellaneous
affairs ordered by the commander. Also, they provided
their labor, told stories in farms or temples. They
even went begging to earn money with permission to go
out for a while.
According to Hamel's record, they were warmly received
by Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks were very interested
in foreign things and custom.
It reflects that hey became proficient in Joseon language
enough to sell their adventure stories.
Since they received a very small quantity of rice and
were restricted in their free time, they lived in bad
circumstances. Sometimes, they complained to a commander
about 'their difficulty because they only eat rice,
salt, and water. '
In reality, they might have encountered so many difficulties.
They are unfamiliar with foreign food in a foreign country.
While the principal food of Netherlands is mostly powder
food processed by grain, Korean food are mostly boiled
or peeled grain.
Such difficulties in their eating food might have contributed
more problems to them during their stay in Joseon.
Nevertheless, their lives in poverty in Byeongyeong,
filling up their stomachs might take precedence over
choosing a nice food. Moreover, their lives in Jeju
and Seoul for three years might greatly help them adapt
to traditional Korean food.
The principal food of Gangjin people was Doenjangguk(bean
paste soup) and boiled rice and cereals with a variety
Hamel and his mates often had to eat only rice with
salt added, they might often beg traditional Korean
food, such as Kimchi, Guk and Tang(a kind of soup and
broth) in farms or temples.
Occasionally, they might be invited to villages' or
soldiers' parties because of their foreign looks they
get ac chance to eat/taste fish, meat, Tteok(rice cake),
or Buchimgae or Jeon(fried food) with some traditional
drinks such as Soju, Jeongjong, or Makgeolri.
Some who were familiar with women
or built a home could sit down to table with women's
They might bought novel meat or fish by money they earned.
Their records mentioned about fish a lot maybe because
Byeongyeong was a trading center for all kinds of goods
near the coast.
Sometimes they might have hunted for hares or roe deers
in Mt. Suin where they often went to look for firewood.
Since their home is famous for dairy farming, they might
wanted to drink milk. Didn't they try to milk cow or
goat held in leash in a field by stealth?If Korean people
heard that they milked cattle to drink, how did they
feel ? surprised and marvelous?
Imagine an embarrassed gestures with the clumsy use
of chopsticks, and surprised expression of eating hot
It had been a bad year for the rice crop 3 years before
their escape. Hundreds of people starved to death and
thieves ran about widely in groups. To fill up famished
stomach, Hamel and his mates had to eat traditional
food our ancestors used regularly to overcome the difficulty
of a bad year such as wormwood, acorns, arrowroots,
or cabbage roots.
Hamel and his mates used to wander about the forest
to look for something to eat before they got separated
to different places.