김득연 편지 번역

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Student 1

金得硏 書翰 (한국학중앙연구원 장서각 편,『명가의 고문서』7)

A letter from Kim Tŭkyŏn

I received this letter with prostration and extreme gratitude. You humbled yourself to check my well-being. I came to know that your body is fully well and the extremity of my gratitude and appreciation does not allow me to calm down my emotions. Furthermore, you gave me with sincerity your generous guidance and at the same time you bestowed me the precious treasure from the sea. I hold it up and bowing, I do not know how to describe my gratitude. Me, with white hair and in the end of my path, by chance I received the post of chikmun[4], fortunately I still have a chance. However, I stopped reading classical books, my spirit and my perception are old and hazy. Although sometimes I open the book and read, I close the book and I forget. Again, is there any hope that it would change? Looking back, I have nothing to see, nothing is as good as just sitting quietly but I cannot avoid my habit of getting entangled [with things]. Again I made up this plan to raise myself by force. I am the one who does not know his own capacity. Laughable. Your son is travelling around for long and has not seen any gain of accomplishments. Perhaps he is getting benevolence[5] when travelling. Every time I receive such a sincere order from you, I am so worried and do not know what to do. I come and go without any point and it has been only within one month. It only depends on your daughter’s proceeding [with a matter]. The grace of the bow, I feel now great appreciation. [However,] the use of the excellent armour[6] does not fit to the old scholar, so I feel extremely sorry. I wish you my added blessing for the coming in the cold weather, take care of yourself.

[4] 直門 [5] 輔仁 [6] 八札

Student 2

When I was missing you, I threw myself on the floor to bow as I received your letter in which you humbled yourself. Knowing fully that you are safe and sound, because of the greatness of my gratitude and appreciation, I cannot compose myself. Furthermore, you gave me your generous teachings diligently/with sincerity, and concurrently you bestowed me delicacies from the sea (aka seafood), I received them with respect and bow, and do not know how to describe it). I, Yeon, my hair gray at the end of my life's path, I stumbled upon an official post, a fortune I had. However, I stopped reading classics, and my spirit and mind are old and blurry. Although per chance I open the book and read, I close the book and forget right away – again, what can I hope for? Looking back there is nothing to show, I might as well sit still. I could not avoid getting the old habit of involved in things, and I conceived this plan of raising myself up by force, I am so called one who does not know his own capacity, LOL (laughable). Your son’s long time of going around about, having not seen the benefit/gain of accomplishment, truly being lost in his directions from his helping out his friends. Also, every time I receive your sincere request of this degree, I sincerely am afraid that I cannot carry it out. My coming and going in vain is only within a span of one month. I only wait for your daughter to make a decision. I feel a great appreciation for the graciousness of the bow, The use of excellent armor is not appropriate for an old scholar. On the contrary I am extremely sorry. My added blessing before you for the coming cold weather. Take care of yourself for the country. I bow to before your care. I humbly bow to you and raise/send a letter of appreciation to you. Keeping it short.

Student 3

I read your letter in admiration. I get to know well that your honorable body’s being healthy and fine. The gratitude of my relief does not allow me calm down my emotion. Nonetheless, I am receiving your generous and sincere teachings in all my sincerity. At the same time, you bestowed me fish. I humbly bow to you. I don’t know how to describe my gratitude. At the end of my life, by chance I stumbled upon the straight post, so I am still fortunate. However, I stop reading. My spirit, my perception, my mind are old. Although I opened the book and read it before, if I close the book, what could I hope for again? Looking back, I have nothing good to show up. I sat quietly. I could’t avoid my old habits by getting involved with things. I made up this plan to raise up myself by force. So called, I have become the person who doesn’t know their capacity in themselves. (LOL) Your son has been traveling around for a long time. He has no gain of accomplishment. In fact, he has been hanging out with his friends, then he lost his direction. In addition, every time I receive your sincere order, I have been afraid that I could not practice it. I have been at lost in vain. Uselessly, I have been coming and going, but it takes only a month. Hope your daugther’s decision to proceed to do. I have the graciousness of the above, so I really feel great appreciation. The use of eight layer armor does not fit to old scholar. Where should I go in that? I’m extremely sorry. It’s getting cold. I bless the rest for you. Take care of yourself for the coutry. I bow to you with caring of yourself. Moreover, I’m humbly bowing to you with my letter of appreciation. I’ll make it short.

Student 4

金得硏 書翰 (한국학중앙연구원 장서각 편,『명가의 고문서』7) Letter of Kim Deuk-yeon

懸慕中, 伏복承辱問, 備審令體冲福, 感慰之至, 無任下懷。 In admiration and missing you, I received your letter humbly in prostration,I admire your body in the brightness of happiness, the extremity of my gratitude and appreciation does not allow me to put down this emotion.

況蒙厚諭勤懇, 兼貺황海珍, 欽奉且拜,罔知爲喩。 Furthermore, I am receiving your generous advice with respect and my sincerity, at the times you are offering me this precious fish, I receive it and bow, I don’t know how to describe it.

硏, 白首末路, 偶得直門, 幸則有矣。 I, old and going to my path, by chance I have my function. Fortune, I still get.

但廢讀經書, 神精老瞶, 雖或披閱, 掩卷輒忘, 更復何望。 However, I stop reading classics, my spirit and my mind are old and hazy. Even though sometimes I open it and read, when I cover the book I forget immediately, what could I hope for again?

自顧無狀, 莫如坐停, 而未免舊習纏繞전요, 爲此强起之計, 所謂不知量者矣, 可笑。 Looking back I don’t have nothing to show, is not as good as just sat quietly. I could not avoid my old habit of getting involve with things, now I make this plan of rising myself by force. So called person who doesn’t know his own capacity, it’s laughable.

令胤遠遊之久, 未見成就之益, 實坐輔仁迷方, 而每承勤命至此, 徒切愧懼。 Your son travel around for a long time, he hasn’t see gain of accomplishment, maybe he has too much fun outside with his friends* and he lost himself. Every time receiving such sincere request to these degree, I go in a point of felling shame and worried.

  • Here we take “輔仁” as “with friends” by circumlocution. We think the author use this expression‎ referencing the Analects. See Lunyu XII.24.

硏之虛往空還, 只在一月之間, 惟竢令愛進退之而已。 I, going and coming in vain, only on a matter of month, only depends on your daughter’s advance and retreat.

烏號之惠, 尤覺感佩, 八札之用, 不合老儒, 反極未安。 The grassiness of a bow, I fell really appreciate, the use of eight layer armor, but not fitting to an old scholar, so on the contrary I am extremely sorry.

餘祝向寒, 爲國保重。 I wish you blessing for the coming winter, take care of yourself for the country.

伏惟令照, 謹拜上謝狀, 不宣。 I’m beg to take care of yourself, I prostrate humbly and raise this thank letter. Not loudly.

Student 5

Letter from Kim Duk-yon[1]

Bowing down, I receive this letter with admiration and extreme gratitude. Now I know that you are in good health and in safe and I can’t calm down my joyous emotions. I am receiving your generous guidance sincerely, and the precious treasure form the sea. I take offered gifts with a deep bow and remain silent. At the end of my path, with white hair, I have the happiness of studied pupils. I stopped reading classics, my mind became old and hazy. Sometimes I open a book and read, but soon after I close it, I forget what I was reading. There is no hope for me. I am just sitting here, and if I look back, I have nothing to see. And now, I have to come back to my old habits and to force my self again doing things, overcoming my capabilities. It is so ridiculous! Your son’s long traveling did not bring any results and he lost in his friendships. Every time I accepted your request, I only wasted my time. One month going and coming back in vain. This time everything depends on your daughter. I receive the bow with gratitude, but the eight-layered armor[2] does not fit to one old scholar. I am sorry. Вe blessed in the coming winter and protect yourself in the name of the country. I am sending you my letter of appreciation, humbly lowing down. I will stop here.

1 Letter from Kim Duk-yon, Academy of Korean Studies, Jangseogak Archive, Documents of distinguished scholars 7 (金得硏 書翰|김득연 서한 (한국학중앙연구원 장서각 편, 명가의 고문서 7).

2 According to Chinese legend, seven-layer armor was once pierced by an excellent shooter. Since than, eight-layer armor became a symbol of invincibility.

Student 6

In admiration I receive respectively and humbly your massage, asking you sending regards to me. I know fully that you are fully well. The extremity of my gratitude and appreciation does not allow me to put down this emotion. Furthermore you gave me your generous explanation with all sincerity, I received it and the seafood holding it up and paying all my politeness not knowing the proper description of it. I at the end of my pass was happy to receive a jikwi [title] (maybe a private student), I am happy to have it. However I stopped reading the Confucian canon as my mind is old and I do not see well. When I open the book to read it and then close it, I don’t remember the content, so I am hopeless. Looking back I don't have nothing to show. It is not as good as just sit quietly , I could not avoid my old habit to be involved with things. I make up this plan to raise my self by force. I have become the person who does not know the amount of himself . It is laughable。 Your son travels a lot, he does not see any gain of accomplishment . He's just hanging with his friends and his benevolence have lost his way . Every time when I receive your request I just so worried and at lost in vane. I was going and coming back. It would take only a month. AndIt only depends on your daughter proceed and retreat. The bow (wūháo bow) is good, but the 8 layer armor does not go with the old scholar, and I’m sorry for [saying] it. The gratitude (your grace) of bow, I feel this gratitude even more, the use of 8 layer armor (inpenetrable) is does not do together with this old scholar. Although I’m extremely sorry. The winter is coming. I'm begging you to take care of yourself for the country. I am sending my letter of appreciation to you bowing respectively. I should stop here [though I have many other things to say].

Student 7

I received this letter in admiration as I remembered you, in prostration as you humble yourself to check my well-being. I came to know that your body is safe and sound and the greatness of my relief doesn’t allow me to calm down my emotions. Furthermore, I am receiving with sincerity your generous teachings. At the same time you bestowed me some precious treasures from the sea(1), I receive those and bow, not knowing what to say. As for me, white headed and at the end of my path, I by chance stumbled upon a small government post; fortune, i still get. However, I stopped reading classical books, my spirit and mind are old and hazy. Although at times I open a book and read, when I close it I forget right away. Again, what can I hope for? Looking back, I don’t have anything to show, I might as well sit still. But I could not avoid my old habit of getting involved in things, and I conceived this plan to raise myself up by force. I have become one of those who don’t know the amount of themselves. This is laughable. Your son has travelled around a long time, he hasn’t seen any accomplishment, [maybe] he has been having fun with his friends and got lost. Each time I receive your sincere request, I worry and am shameful. My coming and going in vain takes only about a month, it depends on your daughter’s proceed or retreat. I feel a great appreciation for the graciousness of the bow; the eight-layered(2) armor does not fit an old scholar, so on the contrary I am extremely sorry. I wish you blessing for the coming winter; for the country, take care of yourself. I bow to you, raising this letter of appreciation. I shall make this short.


(1) the author of the letter, Kim Dukyeon, is here referring to fish. (2) excellent armor

Student 8

I admire and I miss you, bowing to you, I humbly received your letter and my body lifts up in happiness and my gratitude to you and appreciation doesnt allow my to stop feeling this way. Moreover, I recieved your generous teaching humbly and with respect. Also you bestowed me a fish and I humbly bow to you. I still receive good fortune, however I stopped reading classics. My spirit, my sight and my mind are old. Even though sometimes I open and read it, I forget it immediately, so what I can I still hope for? Looking at it now, I have nothing to show and I might as well just sit still. I can't avoid my old habit of getting involved into things and I raise myself by force and I am one of those who doesnt know their own capacity, how funny! Your son is just playing around with no accomplishments, lost in directions, while helping out his friends. As I received your sincere request, I am afraid I can not carry it out. My coming back and forth in vain lays only within one month. I only wait for your daughter to make a decision. I am very grateful for receiving a bow, but a scholar does not use an armor. I am extremely sorry though. I add my blessings for you in this cold weather. Think about the country and keep your health for it. I humbly bow to you and I send my letter in appreciation. That is all I have to say.

Student 9

When I was missing you, I threw myself on the floor to bow as I received your letter in which you humbled yourself. Knowing fully that you are safe and sound, because of the greatness of my gratitude and appreciation, I cannot compose myself. Furthermore, you gave me your generous teachings diligently/with sincerity, and concurrently you bestowed me delicacies from the sea (a.k.a seafood), I received them with respect and bow, and cannot find a proper comparison. I, Yeon, my hair gray at the end of my (life) path, I stumbled upon an official post, a fortune I had. However, I stopped reading classics, and my spirit and mind are old and blurry. Although per chance I open the book and read, I close the book and forget right away – again, what can I hope for? Looking back there is nothing to show, I might as well sit still. I could not avoid getting the old habit of involved in things, and I conceived this plan of raising myself up by force, I am so called one who does not know his own capacity, LOL. Your honorable son’s long time of going around about, having not seen the benefit, truly being lost in his direction from his helping out his friends. Also, every time I receive your sincere request of this degree, I sincerely am afraid that I cannot carry it out. My coming and going in vain is only within a span of one month. I only wait for your daughter to make a decision. I feel a great appreciation for the graciousness of the bow, the use of excellent armor is not appropriate for an old scholar. On the contrary I am extremely sorry. My added blessing before you for the coming cold weather. Take care of yourself for the country. I bow to before your care. I humbly bow to you and send a letter of appreciation to you. Keeping it short.

Student 10

In admiration I am humbly receiving your letter regarding my person. I am relieved to know you are fine. I cannot put down in words the greatness of my admiration. Furthermore, I am receiving with sincerity your generous teachings. At the same time, you gave me this fish and I do not know how can I desribe my grattitude. I am old and I am going to my path, but I still have my function. Moreover, I stopped reading classics, my mind is blurry. Looking back I do not have any achievement, it would be better to sit silently as well. It is my old habit of getting around with things. Now I make this plan of forcing myself to raise. I have become so called person who does not know the limit. Your son is travelling a lot and he has not seen any accomplishment. If it is indeed the case, he is lost because he meets people and contribute benevolence. Every time I reveive your sincere request, I am feeling shame. I might go and come back, it would take a month, but it only depends on your daughter advance. I feel great appreciation for the bow, but eight layer excellent armor will not be of any use for an old scholar. Take care of yourself for the sake of country.I am humbly raising up this letter of appreciation. I will keep it short.

Student 11

Letter from Kim Duk-yon

I was in admiration and missing you. I received your letter in prosternation in which you humbled yourself. I am happy to know you [1] are fully well. A relief is coming to me so happily, I cannot compose myself. Furthermore, I am receiving your generous guidance with all sincerity, concurrently you bestowed upon me delicacies from the sea [2]. I upheld it and paid obeisance, i do not know how to describe my gratitude. Speaking of me, I am old and at the end of my life. I stumbled upon an official post, what fortune I have. However, I stopped reading the classics. My spirit and my mind are old and hazy. Although at times I open a book and read, but once I close the book I forget right away (what I was reading). Again, what can I hope for? Looking back, I have nothing to show. I might as well sit and stay quietly. With my old habit I couldn’t avoid getting involved in things. So I conceived this plan of raising myself by force. I have become the person who doesn’t know his own capacity. It’s laughable. In your son’s [3] long travelling around, he hasn’t seen gain of accomplishment. In fact, spending too much time with his friends, he has lost his direction. In addition, every time I receive your sincere request, I am afraid that I cannot carry it out. I have been coming and going in vain within the last month. I only wait for whether your daughter [4] will do something or not. I feel great appreciation for the graciousness of the bow [5]. The use of excellent armor [6] does not suit an old scholar. On the contrary I am completely sorry. My added blessing for the coming cold. Take care of yourself for the country. I bow down before your [7] thoughtfulness. I humbly bow and raise up my letter of appreciation [8]. Keeping it short.

[1] 令體 [2] 海珍 seafood [3] 令胤 [4] 令愛 [5] 烏號 bow [6] 八札 8 layered armour, impenetrable armor [7] 令照 [8] 謝狀

Student 12