South Korea Probate Records
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Inheritance Documents and Wills (Tongsaeng Hwahoemun'gi or Yusan)
Research Use: Inheritance documents and wills are of particular value for identification of slaves, their birth dates, and family relationships.
Record Type: Korean inheritance documents used to allocate property (including slaves) among siblings.
Background: In addition to instructions regarding the distribution of property, wills generally included moral instruction and advice for offspring.
Time Period: 1500 to present.
Contents: Names of the deceased, family members and slaves, birth dates, relationships. Also arrangements for property distribution, notes of meritorious service, and more detailed biographical information. Location: Scattered in public and private collections; the largest assemblage is in Kyujanggak collection, Seoul National University Library. Percentage in Family History Library: 5%.
Duplication: Within record - estimated at less than 10%; with other records - probably as high as 50% for Korean nobility, but inheritance documents are one of only a few sources for slave names.
Population Coverage: Probably less than 5%. Only a few inheritance documents survive and the coverage is small. Wills are also rare. Reliability: Good.
Accessibility: Available in public libraries and private family papers, but not easily accessible to the general population.
Preservation of Record/Vulnerability: Most pre-1800 documents have been lost; many later records are also lost. Many of the remaining records are preserved in libraries and archives but are, nevertheless, subject to loss by fire or natural disasters; records in private family possession are even more susceptible to loss.
- 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.