Korea and the Silk Road

Before moving here, I remember seeing a plate in the National Museum of Korea in their Silk Road installation — and the sign said something to the effect of “This plate was a gift from the Persian Empire and shows that Korea was part of the historic Silk Road.”

Living in Central Asia, the Silk Road is frequently referenced in different ways… tourism, trade, politics, etc. Putting these two things together, it’s become a side project of mine to learn more about how Korea became a part of the rambling Silk Road trade routes. There is/are researchable material(s) available on this topic – looking at travelers like Ha Cho, Arab geographers and maps, even Korean drama (i.e., Queen Seon Duk) which has made for great summer reading.

On a brief trip to Seoul this summer, I stopped in to revisit the Silk Road/Central Asian exhibit at the Korean National Museum. Some pictures…

is a map mapping out one of the trade routes connecting the Shilla Dynasty (10-11th centuries) to the Silk Road.

Blown glass didn’t exist in Korea before trade began… an example of imported glass…

The installation was smaller than I remember — but still interesting. This idea of a side project came while I was talking to someone at a workshop earlier this summer. HE mentioned that he always has side research projects he’s working on – and that these projects are usually a departure from his main research focus. It keeps his brain fresh and thinking a little outside the box. That challenged me — for me, this topic of the breadth of the Silk Road fits the bill nicely. 🙂


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