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Letter to his son by Pak Se-dang 朴世堂 (寄子泰輔)

Student 1

To my son Tae-bo[1]

Your last letter was a relief for me, but now I am writing you in hard mood. The food is not enough and I am not sure that I could find something to eat for tomorrow. I plucked some still non-ripe cherries and sent it to the market, but I don’t know how much rice could get for it. Uh! Yesterday it was earthquake I have never seen before. I heard traveler saying that in the city the fortress and many houses are destroyed, indeed. Poor taegan Yun (尹大諫|윤대간)[2]! All his life he suffered hardship and I can’t hold my sigh. Real disaster! Nobody thought that it could happen, so everyone was just greedy for the pleasures in front of their eyes. If this is the will of Heaven, what can we do? We can’t know where will be the end of all this!

1 This letter is from Pak Se-dan to his son Pak Tae-bo: Compilation of Sogye Pak Se-dan works, volume 17 (西溪先生集, 卷17).

2 Taegan is probably a title, but it is not clear who is the mentioned person.

Student 2

Your letter calmed me. I'm doing fine. But I have a lack of food, and I'm not sure if I will have some for tomorrow. I picked about a du of half green cherry and send it to the market, but I do n't know how much sung of rice I can get for it. Sigh. There was an earthquake yesterday, I have never seen it before. I heard one traveler said that in the castle-city the fences fell down and the houses were ruined, can it be true? Speaking about the case of taegan Yun, he suffered all his life, so I can’t help sighing. This is real disaster, nobody can predict it, all people want is to see the pleasant things in front of their eyes. This is the [will of] Heaven, what can we do with it? We can't even suppose where the repercussions will show themselves.

Student 3

寄子泰輔(朴世堂, 西溪先生集 卷17)

昨書爲慰, 此中僅遣, 而糧道見乏. 明日之飡, 又難得繼。 Yesterday’s letter was a comfort. In the midst of this I barely make it and the provisions seem to be short. Again I will hardly be able to tie together tomorrow’s meal.

摘得半靑櫻桃斗餘送市, 不知換幾升米。嘆咄。 Plucking up by hand I managed to get more than a peck of half green cherries and sent it to the market, not knowing how many pints of rice it trades for. Sigh.

昨日地震, 曾所未見。卽聞客說, 城中有墻塌屋壞者云. 果然耶。 Yesterday the ground shook, something I have never seen before. Right then I heard a traveller saying: “inside the city walls there are walls collapsing and houses falling .” Is it Indeed so?

尹大諫事. 轉生風浪. 不勝浩歎。災變如此. 無人念得. 只欲苟快目前。 The matter of grand master of remonstrance Yun tosses and turns our lives like wind and waves. I cannot help but sigh deeply. Disasters and catastrophes are like this. There are no people who can hope to manage it. I only wish for some happiness before my eyes right now.

此是天也. 奈何奈何? 餘波之及. 不知又在何處也 This is how the heavens are. How can we deal with it? Oh how? Reaching the lower reaches of the waves. I do not know where it is.

Student 4

Your last letter comforted me, I am barely making it and my food portions seem insufficient, tomorrow the difficulty might continue. I picked about half bucket of unripped cherries and sent it to market, I do not know how much rice I can get in exchange. Alas. Yesterday's earthquake is something I have never seen before. As I heard from the travellers, there are cases of the fences, towers and roofs collapsing and such inside the castle [Hanyang], is it indeed so? The matter of Yun's great remonstration creates turmoil in everybody's lives. I cannot help but sigh. In disaster such as this, that noone can predict and be aware of it, I only desire for the pleasure right in front of my eyes. This is indeed fate, what else can we do? The stormy wave is going everywhere and I donnot know where is the next place it is gonna reach.

Student 5

Your last letter gave me some comfort. It is hard to survive and my food portions are insufficient and tomorrow my difficulties might continue. I picked about half a bucket of unripped cherries and sent them to market, but I am not sure how much rice I can get. Oh. The earthquake yesterday was something I have never seen before. I heard from the travellers, that there are cases of the fences, towers and roofs collapsing inside the royal castle, is it indeed so? The matter of Yun's great remonstration?creates turmoil in everywhere. I can only sigh. Such disasters noone can predict and be aware of and I long just for the pleasure in front of my eyes. If such is fate, what else can we do? The stormy wave is going everywhere and I do not know where it is gonna reach next.

Student 6

To my son T‘aebo Your last letter was a consolment for me. In this [letter] I am hardly passing [my days]. I see that my way of food seems to be insufficient and for tomorrow, I will get it again and keep it with hardship. I picked up a half-ripened bucket[1] of peaches and cherries and sent it to the market, but I do not know how many bags[2] of rice I can get for it. Oh dear. There was earthquake yesterday. I have not seen that before. Now I heard some traveller saying, that within the walls of the fortress, there were walls collapsing and houses crumbling. Was that indeed how it was? The matter of Yun taegun[3], he was writhing in turmoil. I could not refrain from sighing. The disaster is like that, nobody would think that it could happen, [people] just want to have good things in front of their eyes. This is, what the fate is, what can be done? Where the consequences will reach we cannot know.

[1] 斗 [2] 升 [3] 大諫

Student 7

(1) 寄子泰輔(朴世堂, 西溪先生集 卷17) Sent to my son Taebo (Pak Sedang, Seokye seonsaengjib kweon 17)

1)昨書爲慰, 此中僅遣, 而糧道見乏핍, 明日之飡, 又難得繼。 Your last letter consoled me, I am barely passing my day here, but provisions are insufficient. Tomorrow’s diner, moreover, will be difficult to maintain.

2)摘得半靑櫻桃斗餘送市, 不知換幾升米。 I could get almost a bushel of half-green cherry that I will send to the market, I don’t know how many litter of rice will be the change.

3)嘆咄。昨日地震, 曾所未見。 Ah~. Yesterday’s earthquake, I did never see this before.

4)卽聞客說, 城中有墻塌屋壞者云, 果然耶。 Then, I heard travelers saying that in the city walls collapsed and houses are destroyed, is it indeed so?

5)尹大諫事, 轉生風浪, 不勝浩歎。 The matter of grand Master of remonstrance Yun, in turn create trouble, I cannot overcome sight.

6)災變如此, 無人念得, 只欲苟快目前。 Disasters like this, no one can conceptualize it, and [people] just want to enjoy what is in front of their eyes.

7)此是天也, 奈何奈何。餘波之及, 不知又在何處也. If this is heaven, what can we do? The reach of this wave, I don’t know, moreover, where will be.

Student 8

Your last letter consoled me; as I [send you this letter], I’m passing the days as they go. I do not have enough food and, again, I don’t know if tomorrow’s rations will suffice. I picked and gathered about a mal of half-ripped cherries that I sent to the market; I do not know how much rice I can get in exchange. Alas. Yesterday’s earthquake is something I have never seen before. I heard a traveler say that within [Hanyang], there were cases of walls falling and houses being destroyed, was it indeed so? Chief Censor Yun’s act [of remonstrating] has been reborn in turmoil, I can’t help but sigh. Consequences of disasters like this are as such: no one obtains insight. Their only desire is indeed for expediency in front of their eyes. This, it is the will of heaven. What are we going to do, what is it going to be? The impact of the remaining waves, once more, we don’t know [how far] it shall reach.

Student 9

(1) 寄子泰輔(朴世堂,西溪先生集17)

Your last letter was a consolement to me, amidst this I am barely passing my days, my rations [1] are insufficient, tomorrow's meal will be difficult to get again. I picked and gathered approximately one mal [2] of half ripe cherries and sent [them] to the market. I don’t know how many toe [3] of rice I can get in exchange. Sigh. Yesterday’s earthquake was something I had never seen. I heard a traveller saying this: inside the city walls[4] there were fences fallen, houses destroyed and other cases of the like, is it indeed so? The matter of Censor General [5] Yoon is in turn creating havoc [6], I cannot help but sigh. A disaster like this no one can conceive it, they only wish for expediencies in front of their eyes. This, this is [the will of] heaven, what can we do about it? The reach of the rest of the wave, again i wouldn’t know where it will [land].

[1] 糧道 portion of meal, ration [2] 斗 traditional volume measurement unit [3] 升 traditional volume measurement unit [4] 城中 inside the city walls [5] 大諫 censorate, censor general [6] 風浪 turmoil, havoc

Student 10

寄子泰輔(朴世堂, 西溪先生集 卷17)

昨書爲慰, 此中僅遣, 而糧道見乏, 明日之飡, 又難得繼。摘得半靑櫻桃斗餘送市, 不知換幾升米。嘆咄。昨日地震, 曾所未見。卽聞客說, 城中有墻塌屋壞者云, 果然耶。尹大諫事, 轉生風浪, 不勝浩歎。災變如此, 無人念得, 只欲苟快目前。此是天也, 奈何奈何。餘波之及, 不知又在何處也. Your last letter comforts me. I barely make a living, but it is not sufficient for me to getting food. As for tomorrow’s dinner, it seems hard to get on again. I picked some pockets of unripen cherries to sell them at market, but I don’t know how much it can be exchanged by the liters of rice. Huh, There was an earthquake yesterday. It was the thing that I have not seen before. According to what traveller said, there were fallen fences and collapsed houses inside the city wall. Is that true? I cannot overcome my grief caused by what happened to Yun-Daegan, which is like turning into wind and waves. As the disaster like this, but there is no one to keep it but people just eager to get the satisfaction right in front of themselves. This accident shows what heaven means fate, then what are we going to do? I am worried about where the rest of wave reaches.

Student 11

昨書爲慰, 此中僅遣, 而糧道見乏, 明日之飡, 又難得繼。摘得半靑櫻桃斗餘送市, 不知換幾升米。嘆咄。昨日地震, 曾所未見。卽聞客說, 城中有墻塌屋壞者云, 果然耶。尹大諫事, 轉生風浪, 不勝浩歎。災變如此, 無人念得, 只欲苟快目前。此是天也, 奈何奈何。餘波之及, 不知又在何處也.

Your letter from yesterday relieved me, amidst this I am barely surviving, I am lacking food rations, tomorrow's meal, will be difficult to obtain too. I picked a peck of unripened berries to sell at the market, but I don't know how many pints of rice can I get in exchange. Eh. Yesterday there was an earthquake, haven't seen it before. Based on what the traveler said, there were fallen fences and collapsed houses within city walls, is this true? The issue of Censor-General Yun is also causing a storm, I can only sign heavily. A disaster like this, no one can check it, people just wish for satisfaction in front of them. This is the Heaven, what can we do about this? I have no idea where the rest of the wave will reach.

Student 12

Your last letter made me comfortable (consoled me), and amidst this, I am barely doing okay (barely passing my days). But it seems like there is not enough food and meal for tomorrow may continue to be difficult (as well). I picked about a mal of half-green (half ripe) cherries to the market, yet I am not sure how much rice I will be able to exchange for. Alas. Yesterday’s earthquake was a thing which I had never seen before (a degree which I had never experience before). Thus I heard a traveler say, that within the walls of Hanyang, there are cases of walls collapsing and houses falling down, and such – is this true? Censor-General Yun’s matter in turn created turmoil. Consequences of disaster are as such, and no man can conceptualize, but eager to just truly be expedient for now. This is heaven, what to do, what to do. The rest of this wave, I do not know where this would be.