Next to the Main Church in the center of De Rijp is a statue of Jan Jansz Weltevree.
Jan Jansz was born in De Rijp about 1595. In 1626 he signed on the “Hollandia” and departed on March 17 of that year to the Dutch Indies. From Jakarta, he went with the yacht “Ouwerkerck” in 1627 to Decima (now Dejima) near Nagasaki Japan.
Along the way they were faced with headwinds, making the journey took much longer than expected. As a result they were found to be without drinking water.
Jan Jansz went ashore with two shipmates to collect several tons of water. The other two were Dirck Gijsbertsz also from De Rijp and Jan Pieterse Verbaest from Amsterdam. The island proved to be Jeju (formerly Chesu) in the south of Korea, about 20 km from the mainland. They were imprisoned there, after which the Ouwerkerck quickly sailed away.
Partly in response to raids by Japan and Manchuria Korea under King Jungjong (1506-1544) and later the Kings pursued a strong isolationistic policy during that period. Under strict rules, there was still trading with other countries, but for the rest it was a hermit kingdom. If someone accidentally came into the country, he was not slain, but he would never be allowed to leave the country again. Jan Jansz and his mates also felt the effects of this policy. They were taken to Seoul.
Jan Jansz, so the first westerner who ever came to Korea, spent the rest of his life as an adviser to the court of the king, in part because he had knowledge of weapons and gunpowder. He married, had children and took a Korean name, Pak Yon. Both his shipmates were killed in a war against the Manchurians.
In 1653 the ship ‘De Sperwer’ shipwrecked on the coast of Jeju. Hamel from Gorkum, the ship’s bookkeeper (he calls the island “Quelpaert”) describes in his journal how the crew was taken to Seoul by Jan Jansz as an interpreter. The crew of this ship succeeded in escaping from Korea after 13 years and thanks to the description of Hamel we now know about Jan Jansz.
With this statue of Jan Jansz the artist Elly Baltus has expressed past and present, East and West in a very special way. On August 26, 1988 the statue has been revealed by the then Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Youn Up-Suk, in the presence of many Koreans living in the Netherlands.
A few years later Elly Baltus has made a replica of this statue, which has been unveiled on May 5, 1991 in the Children’s Grand Park in Seoul.
Jan Jansz is ca. 1595 in De Rijp geboren. In 1626 monsterde hij aan op de “Hollandia” en vertrok op 17 maart van dat jaar naar Indië. Vanuit Djakarta ging hij met het jacht “Ouwerkerck” in 1627 naar Decima (tegenwoordig Dejima), bij Nagasaki Japan.