Archival Science

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 23–44 | Cite as

Archival traditions in Korean history: from medieval practice to the contemporary Public Records Management Act

Original Paper


This paper provides a historical overview of Korean archival practice and introduces historical changes in archival traditions over the course of Korean history. This will identify the unique characteristics of Korean archival practice, which are based on the ideological and political changes that have happened in Korean history, in terms of Confucianism, Modernization, Colonization, and Westernization. The different historical eras shaped archival traditions in Korea in different ways, according to their own ideologies. By identifying archival practices in history and connecting them with social and political ideologies, the paper concludes that archival practice actively interacts with ideological and social needs within its historical context. For this, the paper presents: (1) an overview of traditional compilation between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries; (2) a discussion of the modernization efforts in the Joseon administrations of the nineteenth century; (3) some observations on the introduction of colonial archival practice under Japanese occupation in the early twentieth century; and (4) a review of post-colonial archival practice in the Republic of Korea.


Compilation Confucianism, archival history—Korea Japanese colonization Modernization of Korean archives 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information and Archival StudiesHankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulKorea

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