One of the chronic problems of pre-industrial Korean history has been the difficulty of material integration between core regions of the Korean peninsula. This article analyzes five major canalization attempts made by Koryŏ and Chosŏn states in the T’aean region to address the problem of infrastructural integration. Located along a critical shipping route between the southern grain basket and the capital region, the T’aean coastline had been infamous for centuries for its treacherous tides and proclivity for hastening shipwrecks. Consequently, from 1134 to 1537, Koryŏ and Chosŏn officials attempted canalization projects that, if successful, would have allowed grain ships to bypass the most troublesome zones. However, the canalization efforts all ended in failure. Utilizing Chosŏn-era institutional records, I argue that the canalization failures: 1) exposed a pre-industrial state’s logistical and technological limits, notably, the difficulty of coastal canalization efforts in areas of high tidal variation and granite bedrock, and 2) prompted shifts in the infrastructural priorities of the Chosŏn state.
Document type: Article
The different versions of the original document can be found in:
DOIS: 10.22372/ijkh.2019.25.1.15 10.22372/ijkh.2020.25.1.15
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