(Translation) 1543年 李彦迪諭書

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Yi Ŏnchŏk (RR: Yi Eonjeok, 1491 - 1553) was a Confucian scholar during the Chosŏn (Joseon) dynasty. He is considered a pioneer in the process of establishing the Neo-Confucianism of Chosŏn. Although he was never a student of Yi Ŏnchŏk, T'oegye Yi Hwang (Toegye Yi Hwang), one of the two most prominent Confucian scholars of Chosŏn, is known to have referred to Yi Ŏnchŏk as one of the sages of the East.[1][2]

Yusŏ (Yuseo), the "document of [King's] instructions," was one of the two documents—kyosŏ (Gyoseo), the "document of appointment," being the other—issued to the officials with military command at the time of their appointment. Originally—dating back to Koryŏ (Goryeo)—, it functioned as the means of authenticating the orders of military deployment. However, as time went on, it acquired other functions such as transmitting the names of officials to be rewarded based on previously filed reports or a royal directive intended for lower officials and commoners. [3][4][5][6]

Original Script

Classical Chinese English


荐臻專城或存於▣▣ 赤子未蒙其實澤 脫有▣(緩)急, 將何措, 宜益軫, 予懷其惟重臣 惟卿, 德涵內外, 學造精微, 敦大而高明, 方嚴而簡默, 處論思之地, 嘉猷累陳, 作親民之官, 善政素著, 允釐庶績, 方參廟謨,

今授卿以本道觀察使兼兵馬水軍節度使 卿其體予倚任 專推卿孝友之政 課農桑以衣食吾民 明敎化以作新斯民 秉大公而嚴黜陟 揭至明而別情僞 剸裁盤錯 伸理冤枉, 罪關大憂, 錄狀啓稟官 堂上斷以卿衷 故玆敎示 想宜知悉


If those successive magistrates involve in..., common people would not receive the real benefits of governance.

Confronted with sudden and urgent situations, how would we handle them?

In my growing concern over these matters, I can only think of one important minister, which is you.

You embody virtue within and without.

In learning, you have reached at high levels of profundity and delicacy.

You are great and brilliant.

You are upright and solemn, and, at the same time, simple and quiet.

When posited in situations of discussing your ideas, you have repeatedly laid out excellent plans for governance.

Being an official of renewing the people, your good governance has always been outstanding.

You have governed many tasks so sincerely and participated in the discussion in the court.

As I now appoint you as Governor of Kyŏngsang (Gyeongsang) Province as well as its Navy Commissioner, you must attend to the mission that I assign to you; devote yourself to extending the governance of filial piety and friendship; feed and clothe My people by encouraging farming and sericulture; enlighten, thereby renewing them.

Holding on to the great fairness, you must be strict in promotion and expulsion.

Lifting the supreme intelligence, you must differentiate what is right and wrong.

Cutting out the entangled issues, you must relieve the unresolved grievances.

If the crimes should raise grave concerns, you should report them to the office.

If the rank of the accused is not as high as the ministers of 3a, you may make a judgment based on your faithfulness.

I, the King, hereby instruct you thus, and you should consider and remember all My instructions.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think the king praises the minister so effusively before assigning him as governor?
  2. What are the roles and responsibilities of governors as defined by the king? How do those roles fit with your general understanding of Confucian values?
  3. Among the roles and responsibilities assigned to governor,what are the most important task?
  4. According to this document, how did the governor relate to the central government? What does this document show as to relations between the central and regional governments?
  5. What is the relationship between the central government and local officials in the 16th century Joseon? How did they operate with each other?
  6. Yi Ŏnchŏk was appointed to be an official in Kyŏnggi Province, the province that shared great proximity with the capital. How did this fact change the emphasize of what Yi was expected to do in his post? Compared to officials who were appointed to different areas in the country, how was Yi's post different than, say, its counterparts in the Northern provinces?
  7. Under which circumstances this order could be declined (e.g., a disease, an ill father or son to take care of)?
  8. How would a minister notify it (through which means, which institution)?
  9. What would be the possible sanctions towards a minister refusing to obey this kind of order although he has reasons to?
  10. What were the duties of Surveillance Commissioner (觀察使) and Military Commissioner (節度使)?
  11. What were the qualities that the king was looking for when appointing someone to these posts?
  12. How important were these posts to local governance?
  13. Could the contemporaries misinterpret these documents? In the case of 脫, it could be misread as "貺," which could change the meaning of the sentence...
  14. Are there any examples of appointments being made without the use of such flattering language?
  15. What was the process of appointing officials to their posts? Did the officials themselves have any say in the matter?
  16. How significant was this post assigned to I Ŏnchŏk?
  17. Define 'good governance'. What benefits to the common people was it supposed to bring? Was this realized?


  1. http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/SearchNavi?keyword=%EC%9D%B4%EC%96%B8%EC%A0%81&ridx=0&tot=46
  2. https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%9D%B4%EC%96%B8%EC%A0%81
  3. Noh In Hwan 노인환. "Document Administration and Implementation of Gyoseo(敎書) and Yuseo(諭書) Issued to Provincial Governors in the Joseon Dynasty" 조선시대 관찰사(觀察使) 교서(敎書)와 유서(諭書)의 문서 행정과 운용. The Journal of Korean Historical Manuscripts 48:287-313, DOI:10.21027/manusc.2016.48..010.
  4. http://sillok.history.go.kr/id/kka_13807024_002
  5. http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/SearchNavi?keyword=%EC%9C%A0%EC%84%9C&ridx=1&tot=86
  6. http://dh.aks.ac.kr/sillokwiki/index.php/%EC%9C%A0%EC%84%9C(%E8%AB%AD%E6%9B%B8)