These materials are diplomatic documents and maritime customs documents that Korea exchanged with Japan, China, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland. The documents date from 1876, after which time Korea signed treaties of amity and commerce with Japan, the U.S., and European nations, appeared on the international stage, and exchanged diplomatic ministers and consuls until 1905, when Japan deprived Korea of its right to diplomacy. They were originally titled Il-an (Japan), Cheong-an (Qing), Mi-an (USA), Yeong-an (UK), Deok-an (Germany), Beop-an (France), A-an (Russia), Eui-an (Italy), Bi-an (Belgium), Seosa-an (Switzerland), and Hae-an (Cuba).
They used to be housed in the Joseon Dynasty’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but were transferred to an annex to the Archives and Documents Section of the Japanese Government General of Korea after Japan deprived Korea of its sovereignty in 1910. In 1930, they were moved again to the Keijo Imperial University Library (the current Seoul National University Library).