|Rodrigues the Gift-Giver : a Korean envoy’s portrayal of his encounter with a Jesuit in 1631 / Lim Jongtae.|
Extract from; Korea Journal, vol. 56, no. 2 (summer 2016): 134-162.
Includes bibliographical references: p.159-162.
"An earlier draft of this article was presented at the 'International Conference on the History
of Mathematical Sciences: Portugal and East Asia V—Visual and Textual Representations in
Exchanges between Europe and East Asia,' held at National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan,
November 7–9, 2014."
Abstract: This paper addresses an extremely favorable portrayal by an envoy of Joseon Korea,
Jeong Du-won, of the Portuguese Jesuit João Rodrigues, whom Jeong met in the course
of his tributary mission to Ming China in 1630–1631. In his subsequent report to the
Joseon king, Jeong portrayed Rodrigues as a benign gift-giver, while portraying himself
as a passive recipient of Western gifts. Jeong’s characterization of the Jesuit and his gifts
has provided modern historians with an important case to illustrate their Eurocentric
account of Western Learning in Korea, an account in which the Koreans played simply
the passive role of recipient of European culture. While questioning this Eurocentric
account, I shall situate Jeong’s portrayal of the Jesuit in its political contexts—Jeong’s
China mission and the bureaucratic politics of the Joseon dynasty. The image of
Rodrigues as the benign gift-giver was created by Jeong, the Joseon envoy who served as
the transmitter of higher culture from China to Korea. In his self-serving rhetorical
efforts to legitimize the “barbarian” informant from the West, he managed to legitimize
his own achievements within the China mission.
Keywords: Jeong Du-won, João Rodrigues, Western Learning, tributary mission,
Jesuits in China, cultural encounter
Local access dig.pdf. [Lim-Rodrigues.pdf]