South Korea Land and Property
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From as early as 50 BC (the Three Kingdom period), payment of land tax has been one of the basic duties Korean citizens have had to perform, along with military service and service for public works. The ownership of land was traditionally considered to be in the hands of the royal dynasty and the king, and the land tax was an in-kind charge for the right to cultivate assigned farmlands. Although the structures and the implementation schemes differed substantially from dynasty to dynasty, and even during different periods of the same dynasty, a similar principle more or less persisted until the end of the l9th century.
With the opening of the 20th century, modern techniques of land resource management were eventually introduced to Korea by the Japanese colonial government (from its own motives of pillage); these include a cadastral survey of the entire country, land-value taxation, and a land use planning system. In the course of the first national cadastral survey (1910-1918), the primitive, loosely organized land ownership pattern that had prevailed previously virtually disintegrated, and a clearer land title concept was enforced, with corresponding tax liability. In this modern concept of real-estate as introduced to Korea, the land and its improvements were treated as separate entities, and property taxes thus levied separately upon them.
Land Survey Records (Toji Gumsa Kirok)
Research Use: Land survey records are useful for identifying members of the lower classes by name and place. Generational linkage is possible through property transfer records.
Record Type: Survey reports for various categories of royal, government, public, and private landholding, title deeds, land transfers and records of tenancy.
Time Period: 1680 to 1910.
Background: Although land ownership is usually associated with the nobility, a great many commoners, especially farmers, also owned land. These land survey records are arranged by locality.
Contents: Names and relationships of owners and tenants, location and description of property; some give names of cultivators, monks, and slaves; may also give the age of the property owner and name of his father.
Location: Kyujanggak collection, Seoul National University Library. Percentage in Family History Library: None.
Population Coverage: 15% or more; the actual coverage was much higher but many of the records have been lost.Reliability: Excellent.
Preservation of Record/Vulnerability: Most of the original records have been lost or destroyed. The remaining records are maintained under good conditions in the Seoul National University Library but are still subject to loss by fire or natural disasters.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Korea,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.