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This page below and above was the first homepage and the first page I made. In 1997 when I was working for a computer company, a few of my colleagues with whom I was commuting every day, happened to have the same Internet provider which gave the opportunity to make a homepage. We were all wondering about what we should make and suddenly I knew: Korea and Hamel. I had no clue that this would be the beginning of 2000 pages of text and 200 Mb of pages and images. Several people challenged me without knowing that they did, among them several famous people. In my humble opinion fame is not an argument nor is authority a scientific argument, facts are.

I really enjoyed the research I did and most of the discussions I had with several people, you won't see or find over here. It took me 5 years to collect all the materials over here and I am still finding things. Why I am doing this? Well I love history, I love facts, I love this way of research and the way I can publish things, but above all I love Korea; the country, the people and their history.

I didn't update this page since the I made it but today, July 13, 2002, I thought it was the time to update this first entry page to show people how I got involved. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed making this 200 Mb measuring homepage.

Henny's Adventures in Korea

Hello, my name is Henny Savenije, as you might have guessed from my URL. I work as an English professor. Over here you will see me though in one of my other capacities. In Korea I've done many things, among others I've been acting in several movies. One was a documentary drama about Hendrick Hamel. Since I'm interested in history, this one particularly interested me. The movie was made as a consequence of the publishing of the following book: Hamel and the Kingdom of Korea. You can find a complete translation of a similar book on this website, take your time and enjoy it. You might want to print it, if so, be my guest.


The first authoritative translation from the transcription of Hoetink of "Hamel's Journal and a Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666" made by Br. Jean-Paul Buys of the Taize Community was published by the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch. Hendrick Hamel has finally been awakened from his long hibernation which has lasted more than three centuries inside a time capsule well guarded by the impenetrable old Dutch language and now speaks in modern English of his thirteen years of captive life in Korea and his sober, detailed observation of the 'Hermit Kingdom', covering a wide range of subjects between 1653 and 1666. By Kim Byong-kuk. The two previous translations of Hamel's book, namely the old French translation and the Churchillian translation were both flawed and distorted versions of the original Dutch document. Prof. Gari Ledyard of Columbia University, the famed Oriental scholar, shed some new light on Hamel's adventures but did not provide a new English translation of the book. Br. Jean-Paul Buys is a Dutch national and his painstaking translation efforts and research work were supported by the City of Rotterdam, the Dutch Korea Trade Club, and the Royal Dutch Embassy in Seoul . "Hamel's Journal" is divided into two sections.


The first section consisting of Part I to Part XII is an enthralling account of the shipwreck of the Sperwer off Cheju Island, the internment of the surviving crew, and finally the escape to Nagasaki, Japan. Shipwrecked The Sperwer, with sixty- four men on board left Batavia on June 18 1653. On August 16 1653, the Sperwer was lost in a storm and twenty-eight men perished. The thirty-six survivors, driven ashore on the southern coast of Cheju Island,  were all interned and spent ten months on the island.

Then, they were transferred to Seoul where they were employed as bodyguards to a general for about three years. One of them died on the way to Seoul. They appealed to the King to release them but they were always told that it was not his policy to send foreigners away from his land. The King apparently did not want facts about his country to become known to other nations. Then, a Manchu envoy came to Seoul and the senior navigator and one sailor approached the Manchu envoy in an attempt to return to the Netherlands by way of China , but they were immediately captured and jailed. After this incident, the remaining thirty-three Dutch sailors were transferred to Pyongyong , Kangjin in Cholla Province. They lived seven years in Pyongyong and eleven of them died during that period. After three successive famines in 1660, 1661 and 1662, they were divided into three groups since Pyongyong could ill afford to support them and sent to SaesOng (12 men), Sunchon (5 men) and Namwon (5 men). At the time of their escape attempt, sixteen men were still alive, of whom eight succeeded in reaching Nagasaki. Tinged mirror The second section, "Description of the Kingdom of Korea" covers Hamel's observations on a wide range of subjects with which he came into contact or which caught his observant eye. Hamel examined Korean life and customs from the perspective of his own cultural background, Holland and Western civilization in the seventeenth century. Hamel could make observations at close hand because the Dutch sailors were allowed to go about relatively freely with few restrictions. Moreover, Hamel could observe the lifestyle of upper class people because curiosity prompted these people to invite the Dutch to their homes. Many of Hamel's observations are verifiable either by the looking at established historical facts or observing customs which still survive from former times. Hamel's "Description of the Kingdom of Korea" is a mirror tinged undoubtedly with colors of his own perceptions and prejudices, but it is also a mirror enriched with the knowledge and inquisitive curiosity of a widely traveled foreigner. Therefore, we can use Hamel's work to look back on the long-gone days of the Chosôn Dynasty. The descriptions of historical Korean society used by contemporary Korean scholars have usually lost much of their freshness and dynamism from the difficult process of composing them in Chinese classical form. However, Hamel's description was straightforward and forthright and his work exudes a raw vitality. Any reader of Hamel's work will not miss the thrill and fascination of uncovering a well-hidden treasure house. Hendrick Hamel Hamel's Journal and a description of the Kingdom of Korea 1653-1666.

Translated from the Dutch transcription of Hoetink by Br. Jean-Paul Buys of Taize. RAS Publications 1994; paperback 107 pages.

Professor Tae-Jin Kim of Chonnam National University in Kwangju, Korea has made a Korean translation of Hendrik Hamel's Journal of the Unfortunate Voyage of the Ship the 'Sperwer'. The book can be obtained from The Korean Trade Club, P.O. Box 73, 2000 AB Haarlem, the Netherlands, Tel: +31-23-5159141.

The documentary was directed by Lee Hyung Min, working for KBS (Korean Broadcasting System #18 Yoi-Dong, Youngdeungpo-Gu Seoul , 150-790, Korea Tel: +82-2-781-1887~9 fax: +82-2-781-3397)

Willem A. (Wim) Hamel, who did much research about the subject guided the film crew through Holland: Churchillaan 18 2215 PJ VOORHOUT Tel.: / Fax +31-252-210679 email address

Last, but certainly not least: The Dutch Come to Korea, Gari Ledyard, Royal Asiatic Society 1971/1984. Another highly readable account of Hamel experiences in Korea in the seventeenth century. This is an older translation of Hamel's text which was based on later editions, not the original Dutch manuscript. It's high value lies mainly in the research done in Korea and the translations of the Korean resources.

However the best book I've read about this subject is not this version though. I've read long before this book was published, a better one which seemed to be better researched. Though the author was obvious too hurried to write down the facts right. It's title is: Hollanders in Korea by H.J. van Hove. Uitgeverij Het Spectrum ISBN 90 274 2154 NUGI 641. 162 pages. It seems to be more thoroughly imbedded with other literature. Therefore I want to invite more interested people to read the translation and all the additions and changes I made. Click on the picture of Hendrick Hamel to the right to read everything. When I started this project I used the original book, but in the meantime, I made many additions and changes, so what you read, became more and more my own "website book" I myself made a transcription of the manuscript as well.

Pictures of the documentary

To give you an idea how small the sperwer was, take a look at the video below.