Since Hendrick Hamel's vessel
was wrecked at Jeju-do in Korea in the Joseon Dynasty
(1653) due to a sudden accident, he lived there for
13 years. He is a well-known person who widely introduced
Korea to Europe. But who is Hendrick Hamel?
Surprisingly, there is little
information about him. But 『The
Journal of Hendrick Hamel』reports brief personal
information and some of his work after he returned to
He was born in 1630 in Gorcum,
Netherlands. According to 『Hollanders in Korea(Het
Spectrum BV, 1989)』written by H. J. van Hove, his parents
were DirckHamel and G. Verhaer.
His father, Dirck
Hamel got married three times. But there is no mention
about his childhood. Recently, Gorchum have shown a
keen interest in Hamel. It built his bronze statue and
made a sign or marker at the site of his birthplace.
He became famous in Korea since he wrote a book, entitled『The
Journal of Hendrick Hamel』, about his thirteen-year
experience after the shipwreck in the coast of Joseon
in 1653 until he escaped from Joseon. Upon his arrival
in Japan he introduced Korea to VOC (Dutch East India
Company) and to Western Europe.
Incidentally, Korean people's interests in Hamel and
Netherlands became more apparent for two reasons: first,
in 2002, the Korean national soccer team achieved the
brilliant feat of making the quarterfinals in the 2002
World Cup Soccer under the command of Dutch coach Guss
Hiddink; second, the year 2003 was the 350th anniversary
of Hamel's shipwreck in Korea.
departed from Texel, Netherlands on Nov. 6, 1650. According
to the record of Aug. 14, 1668 of『Dagregister
Nagasaki』, he arrived at Batavia (now called
Jakarta) as gunman of the Vogel Struijs on July 4, 1651.
After repeated quick promotion, he became a clerk and
a bookkeeper in charge of service and financial management
in 1653. In rank, this bookkeeper equaled the coxswain.
On June 18, 1653, he left from Batavia
on board of the Sperwer for Japan via Taiwan. But, he
encountered heavy seas and was finally shipwrecked in
Korea, in an unknown land, at dawn of Aug. 16.
After living for 13 years and 28 days in Joseon, he
escaped from Yeosu.
It is known that 『The Journal of Hendrick Hamel』was
written in the island of Deshima, Nagasaki where the
VOC branch was located after the arriving there in 1666.
However, he may have his mates' help or hold some records
they brought with them at the time of their escape from
Joseon that contains their experiences in Joseon.
Although some record said that Hamel and his mates arrived
in his country, Netherlands on July 20, 1668, it is
known that he stayed in Batavia for some time. Probably,
his help was essential for the rest of his 8 mates who
remained in Korea to be sent back home. Also he assumed
a heavy charge or responsibility as a bookkeeper.
At any rate, when 7 mates were sent back to Batavia
by repatriation through negotiation between Korea and
Japan, he left for his country with them and arrived
in Netherlands in 1670.
They applied to VOC for their unpaid wages during their
stay in Joseon.
On the other hand, 『The Journal of Handrick Hamel』may
not just be a personal record in a sense of simple shipwreck,
but an evidence of unpaid wages during their stay in
No exact record exists after Hamel arrived in Netherlands
but the『Celebrities Genealogy in Gorcum』was published
Hendrick Hamel was an adventurer. Born in Gorcum in
1630 and died in 1692 at the Age of 62.
Why did he return to Batavia?
Why he never married?
Once again, we should think of his relevance with the
history of Joseon.