Early Korea-Arabic maritime relations

The precise date when exactly Muslims reached the Korean peninsula has been difficult to determine. References to “Ta-shi” (Arab Muslims) can be found in Oriental records that date from the 11th century AD, but there is also evidence that Muslims were in contact with the Korean peninsula from as early as the 7th century. In fact by the 8th century, Muslim navigation manuals reveal that they were plying the eastern seas regularly, establishing colonies along their routes. By the 9th century, Arab travellers who visited China, claimed that over 100,000 Muslims had already settled along the Chinese coast. Initial settlers from from Iraq and Syria (Alawi) were captivated by the remarkable environmental and social conditions they discovered. While these early descriptions of travels may have discrepancies, they provide, reliable historical accounts on the impact of the new settlers in terms of trade links, and the introduction of Islam and its culture onto the Korean peninsula.

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