St. Petersburg: Typ. of E. Yevdokimov, 1892. Item #312
xvi, 391 pp. Octavo. With a folding lithographed map at rear. Contemporary brown quarter leather with cloth boards and gilt lettered title on the spine. Previous owners’ inscriptions on the title page and front free endpaper, library stamps on the front free endpaper and verso of the title page, binding rubbed on extremities, overall a very good copy.
First and only edition. Very rare. One of the earliest comprehensive descriptions of Korea in Russian, compiled by a Russian diplomat and Orientalist Mikhail Podzhio (1850-1889). He served in the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1873-75), the Russian Imperial mission in Beijing (1876-79), and later in the office of Rear Admiral Stepan Lesovsky (1817-1884), Commander of Russian Pacific fleet in 1880-1884. The book is based on Podzhio’s diaries and private notes, original Chinese and Japanese sources studied during his service in the Far East, and ‘‘all available books, articles and correspondences, which appeared in print in the last thirty years, mostly in foreign languages’’ (Preface). The completed manuscript of Podzhio’s work was lost by the associated of the Russky Vestnik magazine in 1885, and this book is based on the other variant recovered after Podzhio’s death in 1889.
The book contains geographical overview of Korea, describes its administration, court system, social classes, education, industries and trade, religion, family life, architecture, dress, food etc.; separate chapter is dedicated to the history of Christianity in the country. For the first time in Russian historiography the author analysed the trade treaties between Korea and China, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Russia, ratified in the late 1870s - early 1880s. Podzhio was the first Russian Orientalist to believe that Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876 (which is considered an unequal treaty for Korea) was on the opposite of a positive civilizing influence for the country. The book also includes one of the earliest publications in Russian of the full text of the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876, Treaties with China (1883), and Russia (1884, with the supplement for the Rules of Russo-Korean trade, and two special protocols). The detailed map of the Korean peninsula at rear was compiled by the author. Later he worked as a diplomat in Berlin, Belgrade, and Teheran, where he died in 1889 at the age of 39.
Overall an important early Russian work on Korea. It was translated into German shortly after the Russian publication (Wien-Leipzig, 1895), and into Korean in 2010 (Roshia oegyogwan-i parabon kŭndae Han’guk. Seoul, 2010).
Only two paper copies found in Worldcat (Library of Congress, University of Chicago).