(Translation) 庚午年 私奴 丁山 江陵大都護府 立旨

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Original Script

Classical Chinese English


右以陳所志矣段矣 上典利川居宋生員田畓庫乙買得爲居乎矣




行下 向敎 是事

大 都護府 處分[官押]

庚午五月日 所志

[題辭] 後考次立旨成給


III-1. 庚午年私奴丁山江陵大都護府立旨

Abridged Certificate[1] of Gangneung Special City for Slave Jeongsan in the gyeong-o year [1750]

加南居私奴丁山 [手寸]

Private Male Slave Jeongsan residing in Ganam [Signature of Finger Joint]


The purpose of this petition is as follows:

上典利川居宋生員田畓庫乙買得爲居乎矣 奴子守鳳 其矣上典宅牌子導良 成明文許給爲乎矣 他官遠地之事乙 此時人心或有雜談是白可 如是明文牌子幷以粘連 仰訴爲白去乎 後考次立旨及踏印成給事乙 千萬祝手爲乎爲

My master [Yi Naebeon] purchased farm fields and rice paddies from Saengwon[2] Song residing in Icheon. Based upon the letter of authorization given to his slave Subong by his master [Mr. Song], the agreement document was made. Since the matter occurred in another distant region [Gangneung], the people nowadays might make an issue out of it. Thus, by attaching the bill of sale with the letter of authorization together with this petition like this, I appeal to you to issue a sealed certificate in order to be used as evidence later. I beg you earnestly rubbing my hands ten thousand times.


Please grant this petition.

大都護府 處分 [官押]

Request for Approval of the Special City[3] [Government’s Signature][4]

庚午五月日 所志

The petition submitted on a certain day[5] of the fifth month of the gyeong-o year [1750].

[題辭] 後考次立旨成給

[Official Decision] A certificate is issued in order to be used as evidence later.

十七日 [官印]

On the seventeenth day [Government Seal]

Discussion Questions

  1. On what grounds did the slaves dispose of their master's property?
  2. How much did the slaves understand the document written in Chinese characters?

Further Readings


  1. An abridged certificate is called ipji 立旨, while an unabridged one is iban 立案. This abridged certificate here was originally served as a petition at first. Once the petition was ratified by a government office, it became a certificate. Therefore, the same document can be both a petition and a certificate.
  2. Saengwon 生員 was a scholar who passed the classics licentiate examination. The licentiate examinations were of two kinds; the classics licentiate examination (saengwon-gwa 生員科) that examined candidates on the Four Books and Five Classics of China, and the literary licentiate examination (jinsa-gwa 進士科) that tested skill in composing such Chinese literary forms as shi poetry (shi 詩), rhyme-prose (fu 賦), documentary prose (biao 表), and the problem-essay (ce 策). See Ki-baik Lee, A New History of Korea, trans. Edward W. Wagner (Seoul: Ilchokak, 1984), 180.
  3. This special city (daedohobu 大都護府) refers to Gangneung. In the late Joseon period, there were five special cities: Andong, Gangneung, Yeongheung, Yeongbyeon, and Changwon.
  4. The signature gwan 官 was engraved in wood first and then stamped on the document for the sake of convenience.
  5. According to Sim Yeong-hwan (Senior Researcher at the Jangseogak Archives of The Academy of Korean Studies), it was usual that the exact date was not filled in because the drafter did not know when the petition would be delivered after it was completed. According to Mun Sukja (Researcher at the SNU Law Research Institute), the documents of the late Joseon period tended to omit the date unlike those of the early- or mid-Joseon period. Mun Sukja, “Reading the Documents of Property Distribution” (lecture, The Academy of Korean Studies, Seongnam, Gyeonggi province, August 22, 2018).


  • Discussion Questions: