A summary of another Dutch first during the years of explorations and competition for global trade domination.
Jan Janszn. Weltevree was born around 1595 in De Rijp (?), a very picturesque village north of Amsterdam. He joined a crew on the vessel ‘Hollandia’ and departed on March 17, 1626, for the Dutch East Indies. Jan Jansz. left Jakarta in 1627 for Japan on the vessel ‘Ouwerkerck’. Strong head winds during their journey required additional supply of drinking water and Jan Janszn., together with two shipmates, Dirck Gijsbertz. and Jan Pieterse Verbaest, went ashore on the island of Chesu (or Quelpaert) about 12 miles south of the Korean peninsula. They were captured by the Koreans and the ‘Ouwerkerck’ soon left without them. The then ruling Yi Dynasty practised a strict isolation policy and ‘accidental visitors’ were not allowed to leave the country. Jan Janszn. took the name Pak Yôn (Mister Jan) and became a senior court official. He was a tall, rather heavily build man with blue eyes, blond hair and a long red beard. He married a Korean woman who gave him two children, a boy and a girl. When in 1653 the Dutch vessel ‘de Sperwer’ shipwrecked on its way from Jakarta to Taiwan on the Korean coast, Jan Janszn. acted as interpreter and advisor to the King. A few of the surviving crew managed to escape after thirteen years and brought home tales of their ordeal as well as their encounter with Jan Janszn. who at the time of their departure was still alive and about 70 years old. One of the survivors, Hendrick Hamel, wrote a journal about his stay in Korea, the first document on Korea ever published in Europe.
The statue displayed on this page is of Jan Janszn. by Elly Baltus and can be found next to the Grote Kerk in De Rijp. A replica statue was erected in Seoul in 1991.
An exhibition about his life was held in the Museum In ‘t Houten Huis (De Rijp) between 17 April and 16 October 2011.
Sources used for this page were deemed reliable, in the public domain and not copyright protected. All suggestions and comments are welcome here.
Special acknowledgement to the late Mr. P.S. Weltevreden, Drachten, the Netherlands.