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Remembering the Jobo AKA “Joseon News”: The World’s First Newspaper

Imperial Family of Korea

Copies of the world’s oldest printed newspaper, Jobo, printed in November, 1577 have finally been located. For centuries, the possible existence of copies of Jobo was always speculated but never verified. These five known copies of Jobo newspapers were printed on the dates November 6,  November 15, November 19, November 23,  and November 24. Having examined Jobo newspapers versus the original text that Jobo was based on, experts are sure that these are wood block reprints. The Jobo was an illegal reprinting of an official, handwritten state digest that was sent out to officials and meant for private use.

Jobo: The world’s first newspaper is Korean

 

The official state digest ran for centuries during the Joseon Empire – starting well before 1577. However, because this digest was only meant for private consumption, it does not count as a newspaper. On November 28th, 1577, King Seonjo decreed that the newspaper was to be shut down. As punishment, thirty people involved in the publication of the Jobo were exiled. The fact that the Jobo printed by the monks was meant for mass consumption as opposed to a private release makes it the world’s first newspaper. Jobo featured the appointments and retirements of public officials, as well as being able to spread news to the masses

Jibong, a monk from Yonghwa Temple, found the first publicly claimed examples of Jobo on an online historical artifacts trading website. While Jobo only ran for three months before it was stamped out of existence by King, the fact that the world’s first newspaper was founded in Joseon is an interesting historical fact. The owner of the Jobo copies, expressed interest to Korea Expose in regard to lending his Jobo examples out for display at an appropriate museum.

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