Metal types are made by pouring various molten metallic materials into molds for type printing. They are categorized into copper type, iron type, lead type and tin type depending on the properties of the metal used.
Metal type printing was first invented and commercialized in the world during the Goryeo Dynasty. During the Joseon Dynasty, format, casting techniques, typesetting and withdrawal methods of metal types underwent ceaseless improvement and development through the advancement and introduction of new scientific knowledge and wisdom.
The Goryeo Dynasty established Seojeokwon as the government agency in charge of printing and publishing, while the Joseon Dynasty had Jujaso, Gyoseogwan and Gangyeongdogam, etc. as the corresponding agencies. While the metal typography in the west established the foundation for religious reformation and peoples’ revolution by mass publishing of the Bible, only limited social classes in Korea enjoyed the benefits of metal typography by granting the authority to print and publish literature mostly to government agencies.
Advancement of printing technologies and cultural standards of Korea during the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties is illustrated through the ancient literatures printed and published with the metal type cast in the corresponding eras.