From 1392 the Choson Dynasty had a Bureau of Annals Compilation, which kept a daily record of all that passed in the Kingdom and prepared a Draft History year by year of the major events. Once a King died, these records and the other records of the Kingdom would be worked up into a detailed history of the reign. Four copies of this would be prepared. This continued to be done, reign by reign, until the Japanese Invasion of 1592 when three of the four copies were destroyed. The single surviving copy was then re-copied and printed, and again, four copies were kept, all housed in scattered repositories in the countryside. This practice continued until 1865 when the history of the reign of King Ch'olchong was printed. When the Japanese took over Korea as a colony (1910), they took one copy to Japan, where it was lost (apart from a few scattered volumes) in the Tokyo Earthquake of 1923. The remaining three sets survive. One is currently housed in the Kim Il-sung University in North Korea. The other two copies in Korea were inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 1997. One includes the surviving original set and the other has the recopied set of annals: both sets are identical from the revised Annuals of King Sonjo (1567– 1608) to the Annals of King Ch'olchong (1849–1863).
The Annals of the Choson Dynasty are possibly the world's most detailed set of historical records. In 2,077 volumes, they cover the reign of 25 kings in 472 years, documenting the daily reports to the king, the king's commands and every matter dealt with in the public offices. They touch upon every aspect of Korea's history, politics, social system, law, religion, custom and life.