In previous studies on chŏpkyŏng, the term has been considered as the translation of a German term ‘Grenze’ which means a ‘border’ in English. In this respect, it has been used to refer to Staatsgrenze, that is, a state border. In contrast, in new border studies, which recently emerged in the field of history, it is suggested as the translation of a contact zone that Mary Louise Pratt coined. By doing so, a group of historians seek to innovate and expand border studies. However, there is a conceptual gap between chŏpkyŏng as a contact zone and what Pratt herself refers to the term. On this basis, this article calls for a more careful and detailed examination of Pratt’s studies. In this context, it aims to put Pratt’s magnum opus, Imperial Eyes in its right place in the history of imperialism studies, clarify the distinguishing features of her inquiry into the nineteenth-century imperialism, and draw some implications for chŏpkyŏng studies.