Dojang 도장 (Korean seal)

A Dojang is a seal or stamp containing Chinese characters used to prove identity on documents, contracts, art, or similar items where authorship is considered important. Korean seals are made of wood, jade, or sometimes ivory for more value. State Seals were generally made of gold or high-quality jade. These seals are written in Chinese characters, since most Korean names have Chinese in them.

Many official documents accept a stamped Dojang rather than a signature. I’ve personally noticed the use when teachers have to officially stamp the finalized tests we give students and my signature is the only one present amidst the red circled seals.

The seal was first introduced to Korea in approximately 2nd century BCE. The remaining oldest record of its usage in Korea is that of the King of Buyeo, which had inscription “Seal of the King of Ye” (예왕지인). These personal seals in Korea can be classified by their legal status. Ingam (인감) or sirin (실인), meaning registered seal, is the seal which is registered to local office. By registering the seal, a person can issue a “certificate of seal registration” (ingam-jungmyeong-seo (인감증명서) which is required for most of significant business transactions and civil services. While ingam is used in important business transactions, other dojangs are used in everyday purposes such as less-significant official transactions (which I assume is what my teachers do). Thus most Koreans have more than two seals.

In Busan, I decided to finally get some for my friends and I. This guy as you will see is using a bit of high tech to get it done, traditionally it was hand carved. A bit more tedious than punching in the characters onto his laptop. I had to get mine written in Hangul, Korean, since my name does not have Chinese characters.