History of Corea, Ancient and Modern; with Description of Manners and Customs, Language and Geography


The Reverend John Ross was a Presbyterian minister who, in 1872, left his native Scotland to become a missionary in China. He opened a school for boys in 1873 and, having mastered Chinese, in 1877 published Mandarin Primer: Being Easy Lessons for Beginners, designed to help English speakers learn Chinese. After working for a time in Xin Zhuang, Liaoning Province, he moved to the Manchurian city of Mukden (present-day Shenyang), near the Chinese-Korean border. At the time, Korea followed a policy of isolation and did not permit missionaries on its territory. Ross studied and eventually mastered Korean and, in 1877, published the first English grammar of the Korean language. He then undertook the first translation of the Bible from English into Korean, using the northern Korean dialect with which he was familiar. Ross wrote two major historical works, The Manchus (1880) and History of Corea (1891). The latter work traces the development of Korea from 2300 BCE to the 1870s and contains chapters on social customs, religion, government, language, and geography, along with maps and several colored illustrations of Korean costumes and social types. Ross’s chapter on the Korean language is especially interesting and includes his observations on the similarities and differences among Korean, Manchu, Mongol, Japanese, and Chinese.

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Elliot Stock, London


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xii, 404 pages including frontispiece, plates, color plates, maps. 22 centimeters

Last updated: February 12, 2016