Seungjeongwon ilgi, the Diaries of the Royal Secretariat

At the heart of the Joseon (Choson) Dynasty's desire to ensure that every significant political event in the Kingdom be properly recorded were the Diaries of the Royal Secretariat. A group of elite scholars in the Royal Secretariat noted down every such event, day by day as it happened, in diaries. These were duly bound into books, usually one for each month, and in due course, formed the base of the Annals, the official history of each King's reign. Into these diaries were written the King's official appointments, including his discussions with Confucian scholars on the ethics of the government, his daily appointments, personnel matters, reports from different Ministries and the action taken on them, and the King's commands. Court ceremonies and other administrative actions are also entered. For each day, the scholars responsible for that day's records were noted.

The Diaries of the Royal Secretariat of the early reigns of the dynasty were lost in the Japanese Invasion of 1592, but there are 3,243 volumes of diaries which provide a complete record for the period from 1623 to 1910. Revolt and fires destroyed some volumes at various dates. The Office of Diaries went to great lengths to recreate the lost volumes from other records: 934 of the volumes were restored in this way, but the others are all originals, hand-written in a fine Chinese hand. The Diaries for the later part of the 19th century are of particular interest as they throw light on the modernisation of Korea and the increasing dominance by Japan. These Diaries, with the Annals and the Records of Daily Reflections, provide a huge amount of information on life in Korea for several centuries. Seungjieongwon Ilgi was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2001.

International Register



The collection is housed in the Kyujanggak Library, Seoul National University. ~ Kyujanggak Library, Seoul National University