(Translation) 洪夔燮

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Original Script



Student Translation : (Julian Butterfield)

When he was young, Duke Hong Kisŏp was poor and sorely unable to make ends meet. One morning, his maid leaped and jumped in to present him with seven ryang in coins and said, "These were inside the cauldron[1]—your rice will be measured in great quantity and firewood will be measured in horseloads. It's bestowed by heaven!" The Duke was apprehensive and said, "What is this gold?" and promptly composed a notice, writing "Would the person who lost their gold take it and leave," and so forth on it. He posted it on the lintel and waited. In a short while, a person named Yu came to ask the meaning of the notice, and when the Duke explained it all to him, Yu said, "Reasonably, it's not losing one's gold if it's within another's cauldron: it's the fruit of heaven's blessing. Why not take accept it?" The Duke said, "It is not my property." Yu prostrated himself and said, "Last night your lesser came to to steal your cauldron, but I so pitied the state and desolation of your house that I gave the gold: now I am moved by the Duke's honesty and goodness, and my conscience stirs of its own accord: I swear I will never again steal, and wish to constantly wait upon you. Stop considering it and accept it!" The Duke immediately returned the gold and said, "Your doing good things is excellent. This gold I cannot accept, and to the end I won't take it." Later, the Duke became a primary minister and his son, Jaeyong, became Hongjong—the state father-in-law. Yu also became trusted, and both himself and his house were greatly wealthy.

  • Discussion Questions:

+ Did anyone find the exact (or ballpark) measurement that 石 indicates here?
(YO) There were two kinds of sŏk according to the Kyŏngguk taejŏn 經國大典 [Great Compendium of Statecraft]: p'yŏngsŏk 平石 and chŏnsŏk 全石. The former was used to measure dry grains, the latter for wet grains for sauces (e.g., fermented soybeans, meju 메주). 1 pyŏngsŏk, which applies in this case, measured about 90 liters. I consulted the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/Item/E0049473), though one should look further into studies on the measurements of Chosŏn.

+ What's the precise title for 判書? I seemed to have missed this in my notes. Also, can anyone clarify if 國舅 is an official title (and should be capitalized?).
(YO) P'ansŏ 判書 is translated 'minister,' and there were ministers of 6 boards/ministries just as in China. Kukku 國舅 was not actually an official title and can remain as kukku 'state's father-in-law' (or even 'first father-in-law'?)

+ I really struggled to find an English phrase that worked for 甚無聊: does my translation seem too far away (in sense at least) from the original?
(YO) I think it works. It comes from 聊 meaning 'rely on'.

+ Is "Duke" an appropriate translation for 公 in a Korean context?
(YO) It is more likely 'Mister' or 'Master', as it is in China after the feudal period.

+(YO) I think it is pretty safe to say 金 here is money, not gold.

(Fran): Isn't 劉 "Liu" instead of "Yu"? Also, I take Mr. Liu to be saying something like, "It's not reasonable that anyone would lose their money inside somebody else's cauldron" (理無失金於人之鼎內). I can't get the sense of how you've rendered that line here.

(YO) 理無失金於人之鼎內 would literally mean "Reason would not have losing money in someone else's cauldron," similar to Fran's translation.
  1. I've decided to use "cauldron" instead of "pot" here to give a sense of the 鼎's value and desirability for Mr. Yu.