Hendrick Hamel (1630 – 12 February 1692) was the first Westerner to write and experience first-hand in the Joseon Dynasty era in Korea (1666). He later wrote "Hamel's Journal and a Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666", published after his return to the Netherlands.
Hendrick Hamel was born and died in Gorinchem. He was a bookkeeper with the Dutch East India Company (the VOC). In 1653, while heading for Japan on the ship 'De Sperwer' (the Sparrowhawk), he was shipwrecked on Jeju Island off the southern coast of Korea along with thirty-five of his crewmates. 36 of the 64 members of the crew survived the shipwreck, and the men were promptly taken into custody and sent to Seoul (where the king was Hyojong of Joseon, who ruled from 1649 to 1659). They were forbidden to leave the country, but they were given some freedom to move and mix with the different classes of Korean society.
After thirteen years, Hamel and seven of his crewmates managed to escape to Japan, and from there to the Netherlands. In 1666, three different publishers published his report, describing their improbable adventure and giving the first detailed and accurate description of Korea to Europe.