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King Jeongjo, “Royal dictum to encourage farming” (Gweonnong yuneum 勸農綸音, 1781)

Student 1

甲戌朔/下勸農綸音于八道兩都: "王若曰, First day of the gapsul year. A royal edict encouraging farming was sent down to the eight provinces and two secondary capitals. Thus spoke the king.

予自臨御以來, 勸農之敎, 凡幾下矣? 國之本在民, 民之本在農, 而農之勤惰, 又在蕫飭之如何。 Since I have taken up the reins of state how many times already have I sent down edicts encouraging farming? The foundation of the state lies in the people. The foundation of the people lies in farming. But the diligence and laziness of farming lies in turn in how the order and management are.

肆先王設農師、置田畯, 汲汲焉惟是之爲先務, 予其敢忽諸? So therefore the previous king established the positions of nongsa, the teacher of farming, and jeonjun, the inspector of fields. The king was avid in this and considered the act of this as a matter of first importance . How could I dare to neglect it?

玆故每當歲首, 輒敷十行, 用飭我道臣、守令, 俾盡勸農之方, 而迄無其效何也? It is for for this reason that each start of the year, I always spread out ten lines in order to put my provincial ministers and magistrates in order, and to make them spend their efforts in the methods of encouraging farming, but why has there been no effects up till now?

豈予愛民之誠, 未足以下孚歟? 抑長吏怠慢, 不克奉宣予德意歟? 噫! Is the sincerity of my love for the people still not enough to be trusted those below? Or is it the case that the seniors officers are lazy and unable to deferentially promulgate my virtuous intentions? Hmm!

凡玆八方民庶, 皆予赤子也。或未免艱于食, 而塡于壑, 是憂是懼, 雖處廈氈、臨玉食, 而心未嘗一息不在于民于農。 The multitudes of people in all of the eight directions are all my newborn children. Some have still not avoided difficulties in food or have fallen in a ditch. This worries me and concerns me. Even though I live in a palace and look down on exquisite food, my heart has never been for one moment not with the people and farming.

賴天之眷佑, 一二年來雨暘不愆, 稼穡稍登. 抑未知蔀屋之生, 其盡無饑歟; 流移之氓, 其盡安集歟; 耕耘之糧, 其盡不匱, 而荒廢之土, 其盡墾闢歟。苟未盡然也, 予之憂懼, 曷敢少弛? Relying on the care and assistance of the heavens, rain and sunlight were not delayed in recent years, while sowing and reaping increased a little. Or is it that I do not know yet about the lives of humble houses and whether they are all free from starvation; and whether the drifters have all safely collected; and whether the grains of plowing and weeding are not all lacking; and whether the rough and deserted land has all been cleared and reclaimed. If it is indeed not yet all so, how could I relax my worries even a little bit?

而凡所以救饑而懷安, 助糧而闢荒, 其責顧不在於長吏歟? Is the responsibility of all the means with which to relieve famine, harbor peace, help the grains and reclaim neglected lands not with the senior officials?

況天心難必於屢豐, 人情易懈於稍裕. Moreover, whereas the heart of the heavens is hardly certain after repeated abundance, human nature easily turns slothful after a little surplus.

苟不倍加蕫飭,作勞服勤, 則竊恐來秋之虞, 反有甚於前日矣。 If we do not double our efforts in orders, labor and toil, then I fear the coming fall will be more grave than the past days.

夫耕種有時, 耘耔有節。倘能不奪, 使趨其期, 而黍稷茂則喜而賞, 田不治則怒而罰, 亦必如古長吏之爲, 則民豈不競勸疾作,而庶幾其有秋乎? It is so that plowing and sowing has its times, and weeding and hoeing earth has its seasons. If we could not deprive them and make them follow these periods, and make the grains flourish, then be happy and reward them. If the fields are not well ordered then be angry and punish them.

咨! 爾長吏, 有勤、有慢,朝廷亦宜有賞罰。今予誕諭, 其毋曰應故事, 而惕念擧行。 Alas! Among you senior officials there are those who toil and those who laze. The royal court for its part has punishments and rewards too. Now then, I have talked excessively but you should not say that I respond to past matters and keep it in mind carefully and uphold these lines.

Student 2

On the first day of 11th year king layed down a royal edict to encourage farming to 8 provinces and 2 capitals.

Thus the king spoke: Since I took the throne how many times have I gave you the teaching about farming? The root of country lies in people, and farming is crucial to human existence. The previous king established officials of farming and eagerly made it their first duty, how would I dare to neglect it?

Every time facing the beginning of the year, I spread royal messages, using them to order provinces' gubernators and encourage farming, but there is no effect, why? Why my sincerity of loving the poeple does not gain enough confidence among citizens down below? If it is not so, is it you, senior officers, to be lazy and not illuminate my virtuous intensions?

Oh! All these people in 8 directions are like my new born babies.

Whether or not they are avoiding being deprived of food or fall into ditches - that is what concerns me, even though I reside in a royal mansion, enjoying beautiful food, but in my heart there was not even one moment when I was not with people and farming. Relying on heaven's care and help within last few years, the rain and sunlight were not delayed and the sowing and harvest extended. Perhaps we don't know about the lives of the poeple in the humble houses, whether or not they suffer starvation and if the scattered people that are drifting around would be collected and secured, whether the seed of farming would not be lacking and if the deserted land would be recultivated. If it is indeed so, it concerns me, how my words can be ignored? But if we think about the reason, does not helping starving people and embracing them, helping with crops and cultivating deserted lands lay in senior officials' responsibilities?

Moreover, we can hardly be sure of the fruitful harvest as heaven's mind can not be easily defined. The human nature can easily turn into laziness because of surplus and if we don't establish order and make people work diligently, I'm fairly concerned that coming fall will be more serious than the previous one.@@@

Student 3

The first day of kapsul year. The king laid down a royal edict to encourage farming to 8 provinces and 2 capitals Thus the king spoke: Ever since I took the throne how many times have I announced the teaching on encouraging farming? The root of country lies in people, and the people foundation is based on farming. The previous king established officials of farming and eagerly made it their first duty, how would I dare to neglect it? Everytime with the beginning of the new year, I promogate royal announcements, using them to order magistrate gubernators and encourage farming. But why there is no effect of it until now? Perhaps, my sincere love for people is not enought to win get their trust. If it is not so, is it you, senior officers, that are lazy and do not fullfill my virtous intensions? It must be so! All these people in all directions are like my newborn babies. Whether or not they avoided being deprived of food or falling into ditches - that is what concerns me, even though I reside in a royal mansion, enjoying beautiful food, in my heart there was not even one moment when I was not with people and farming. Relying on heaven's care and help within the last few years, the rain and sunlight were not delayed and the sowing and harvest extended. Perhaps we do not know about the lives in the humble houses, whether or whether they suffer starvation and if the scattered people that are drifting around would be collected and secured. Whether the seed for farming would not be lacking and if the deserted land would be recultivated. If it is indeed so, how could I relax and relieve my worries a bit? But if we think about the reason, does not helping starving people and embracing them, helping with crops and cultivating deserted lands lay in senior officials' responsibilities? Moreover, we can hardly be sure of the fruitful harvest as heaven's mind can not be easily defined. The human nature can easily turn into laziness because of surplus and if we do not establish order and make people work diligently, I am fairly concerned that the coming fall will be more serious than the previous one. The plowing and sowing has its times, and there is time for removing weeds and hoeing. If the senior officials could not deprive people of time and labour, make them follow farming season and if the millets will grow well, be pleased and reward them. But if the fields are not well maintained, be ferious and order punishment. You senior officials, some of you are dilligent and some neglect their responsibilities. The royal court must as well punish or reward you. If we continue like this, how can we expect that there will be harvest season? If the old practice is used to encourage officials, people could work dilligently and competevely, and we could possibly expect autumn harvest. Today I give you guidance and do not say it only corresponds to old matters, but be focused and watchfully perform my teachings.

Student 4

The first month of kapsul cyclic year/ King’s edict encouraging farming was laid down to the eight provinces and two (secondary) capitals/cities [Kaeseong and Kanghwa]: “Thus King spoke, ever since I took the throne, how many times by far have I laid down the teaching of encouraging farming? State’s foundation is in the people, people’s foundation is in farming, yet diligence and laziness in farming depends on how management and orders are. Therefore, the previous king installed the inspector of farming and manager of farming, and eager about this being the foremost task, would I dare to neglect it? For this reason every time in the beginning of the year, I always spread out ten lines (royal messages), and using it to order my provincial administrators, (and) magistrates, to make them work on ways to encourage agriculture, but so far there has not been its result - why is this so? Is it perhaps the sincerity of my loving the people, is not enough thus unable to reach to the people below? Or is it that the senior officers are lazy, thus not well uphold and show my virtuous intention? Ah! These people everywhere, all are my newborns. Whether they avoid the difficulty with food, or falling into a ditch (sufferings: i.e. natural disasters), this concerned me, even though I live in the royal mansion [reference to Mongolian tent yulta] and face beautiful/fine food, there was not a moment that my heart was not with the people or with farming. Relying on heaven’s care and help, within the last couple of years rain and sun did not delay, and sowing and harvest has increased by a little, perhaps I do not know the lives in the poor houses, whether they all not suffer starvation; whether the drifters (refugees) who drift and move around, if they all have been taken care of; whether the grains for farming, they all be not lacking, and land of devastation, whether it be all cleared and cultivated. If it is indeed not yet completely so, how dare my worries could be loosened even a little bit? The means of helping the people in starvation and embracing them in comfort is by helping (them) with the crops and the cultivation of rough land, if we think about it isn’t this responsibility with the senior officers? Furthermore, the mind of the heaven we can hardly be sure of repeating abundance, human nature easily be loosened for small surplus, if we don’t add encouragement and order many times, and make people work diligently, then I fairly am afraid of the coming fall, reversely more serious than previous days. Overall, farming has its time and pulling out weeds has its seasons. If we cannot deprive them (of time and labor), and have them follow along the farming (seasons), if the millets are abundant, be pleased and award them, and if the field is not well maintained, be furious and punish them. If it surely be like the acts of the officials of the ancient times, then how can people not competitively work diligently labor, then perhaps we can expect a autumn harvest? Ah! You, senior officials, some are diligent and some are negligent, the court shall award and punish as well. Today I give you guidance, and do not say it responds to old matters, but watchfully mind it and perform it.

Student 5

1. King Cheongjo 正祖, “Royal dictum” (Yuneum 綸音) (1781)

First day of the /gabsul/ [1] cyclic month [King Cheongjo] laid down the royal dictum [2] encouraging farming in the 8 provinces and 2 capitals [Gaesong and Ganghwa] [3].

The king spoke thus: how many times have I laid down the teaching and encouraging of farming since taking the throne? The foundation of the state lies in the people, the foundation of the people lies in farming, and how the courts encourage and mandate the diligence and negligence of farming to the people. The previous king was eager about the establishment of /nongsa/ [4] [agriculture inspectors] and /cheonjun/ [5] [farming officials] as being the first and foremost task, would I dare to neglect it? For this reason, each time I face the beginning of the year I always spread out my edict [6] to my /doshin/ [7] [provincial ministers] and /suryeong/ [8] [magistrates] in order to enable the methods of encouraging farming fully, but so far there has been no effect, how can that be?

How is the sincerity of my love for the people not enough to gain their trust? If not it must be the /jangmi/ [9] [senior officers] who are negligent and not upholding and spreading my virtuous intention. Alas! All the many people everywhere are all my newborn children. Whether they are avoiding difficulties with food, have fallen into a ditch [10] or not, it concerns me and worries me, even though i live in the royal mansion [11] and have abundant food [12] there is not a moment my thoughts are not with the people or farming.

Relying on the heavens care and help, these last few years the rain and sunlight were not delayed, the sowing and harvest slightly increased. Or perhaps is that I do not know yet about those of humble houses and whether they are free from hunger, whether the drifters have been safely collected [and brought back to their feet], whether the grains for farming are lacking, and whether the rough deserted land has all been cleared and recultivated. If it is indeed all not so, as king how can my worries be lessened, even by a little bit? The way to help the hungry and embrace them in comfort, is to help the crops and clear and re-cultivate the rough earth, if we think about this does the responsibility of this not lie on the senior officers? Moreover, whereas the heart of the heavens is certain with difficulty after repeated abundance [13], people’s nature easily becomes lax after a small surplus.

Indeed if we do not increase our encouragements so that they may exert more labour and work, then I fear the coming fall will be more severe than the previous times. There are times for plowing and sowing, and weeding has it’s own season too. If the senior officer cannot deprive the people [of their time and labour] and make them observe the required farming seasons, if the rice [14] is abundant and growing well be pleased and reward them. If the fields are not well maintained show anger and give punishment.

Alas! You senior officers,there maybe be diligence, there may be negligence [whichever the case may be], [you] will be punished and rewarded by the courts as well. Today I give you teachings, do not say they merely correspond to old matters but watchfully keep [them] in mind and perform [the duties].


[1] Pre-modern texts were based on the traditional Korean calendar kapja (甲子) which is a lunisolar calendar, derived from the Chinese calendar. It consists of ten heavenly stems cheongan (天干) combined with twelve earthly branches jiji (地支), which form a sixty year cycle. [2] 綸音 (allusion referring to the King’s speech which comes out like “silk”) Royal dictum, royal edict. [3] Kaesong the capital of Goryeo and Ganghwa the secondary capital, which acted as a refuge for the royal family during mongol invasions. [4] 農師 farming inspector [5] 田畯 farming official [6] 十行 Imperial or royal message [7] 道臣 provincial minister [8] 守令 magistrate [9] 長史 senior officer [10] 塡于壑 “fall into a ditch” allusion, figurative suffering. [11] 廈氈 royal mansion [12] 玉食 food served in jade plates [13] 屢豐 repeated good harvest, repeated abundance [14] 黍 millet. Commonly grown grain at the time

Student 6

甲戌朔/下勸農綸音于八道兩都: 1) The first day of the month kapsul 甲戌, the king laid down and his speech encourage the farming to the eight province and the two capitals.

"王若曰,予自臨御以來, 勸農之敎, 凡幾下矣? 2) The king spoke this: ‘From the time I face up to governing, the teaching of encourage the farming, by far how many times I have been laying down?’

國之本在民, 民之本在農, 而農之勤惰, 又在蕫飭之如何。 3) The State’s basis is in the people; the people’s root is in farming, but, they encourage the laziness of farming, moreover, how the management and commandment are like.

肆先王設農師、置田畯, 汲汲焉惟是之爲先務, 予其敢忽諸? 4) Therefore the last king instituted the Nongsa 農師 (Farming teacher); then he established the Chŏnju 田畯(1), he was eager to do only this as his duty, how can I dare to neglect this?

玆故每當歲首, 輒敷十行, 用飭我道臣、守令, 俾盡勸農之方, 而迄無其效何也? 5) For this reasons, every time in the beginning the year, I always spread out ten lines, making it observe to the governors of provinces, to the magistrate of district (2). That I do my best for the provinces’ encouragement farming. However, until now, how there is no results?

豈予愛民之誠, 未足以下孚歟? 6) How the sincerity of my loving people, is still insufficient by laying down?

抑長吏怠慢, 不克奉宣予德意歟? 7) If is not, [that] bureaucrats are negligent and do not well expose my virtue and intention?

噫! 凡玆八方民庶, 皆予赤子也。 8) He! All the people of the eight directions, they are my newborn babies.

或未免艱于食, 而塡于壑, 是憂是懼, 雖處廈氈、臨玉食, 而心未嘗一息不在于民于農。 9) Maybe they do not avoid difficulties in food, and fill in in the gutter, this love, this fear, even though I live in a leather tent (royal mansion), facing a noble food, there is no instant when my spirit is not about people, is not about farming.

賴天之眷佑, 一二年來雨暘不愆, 稼穡稍登, 抑未知蔀屋之生, 其盡無饑歟; 流移之氓, 其盡安集歟; 耕耘之糧, 其盡不匱, 而荒廢之土, 其盡墾闢歟。 10) Rely on the kind help of the Heaven, the last couple of years the coming rain and sunlight does not delay, sowing and reaping rose a little, Perhaps I do not know yet the life of poor grass hut, whether they are completely not in starvation; people who are circulating and moving (refugee), whether they are entire collected in security; whether the grain of agriculture, they are completely not insufficient, and the desolate ground, whether they are completely cultivated and developed.

苟未盡然也, 予之憂懼, 曷敢少弛? 而凡所以救饑而懷安, 助糧而闢荒, 其責顧不在於長吏歟? 11) Indeed if this is not so, my worries, can I let them be loosen. And, for all these reasons saving from starvation and embracing stability, helping grains and developing uncultivated land, the duty of looking back is not in senior official (3).

況天心難必於屢豐, 人情易懈於稍裕, 苟不倍加蕫飭,作勞服勤, 則竊恐來秋之虞, 反有甚於前日矣。 12) Moreover, Heaven’s mind is hardly sure of year of abundance, human essence is easily lazy for a small surplus. Really, if we not work twice as hard to manage and command, and (do not) make them work with devotion, then I fear of the expected coming autumn, perhaps it will be more serious than some time ago.

夫耕種有時, 耘耔有節。倘能不奪, 使趨其期, 而黍稷茂則喜而賞, 田不治則怒而罰, 亦必如古長吏之爲, 則民豈不競勸疾作, 而庶幾其有秋乎? 13) As you know, plowing the seed has its time, picking weeds out of and springing up has its season. Perhaps, they are able to not take it, make them follow the farming times, if the millet is abundant then be pleased and praised them. If the field is not cultivate, then show anger and punish them. Moreover you must do like the Seniors Officials of the antiquity, then how do the people not vie with one another and work diligent?

咨! 爾長吏, 有勤、有慢, 朝廷亦宜有賞罰。今予誕諭, 其毋曰應故事, 而惕念擧行。 14) Oh! You, seniors officials, there are those who toil, there are those who idle. The Court should also to have praise and punishment. Now, I give your guidance, do not say it is corresponding to old matters, and think carefully and hold up my lines.

(1) Archaic titles from Zhou dynasty linked to the myth of foundation of this dynasty. (2) Translation from the RHAC of Maurice Courant ref. 896. (3) Translation from the DOTIC of Charles Hucker ref. 153.

Student 7

First day of the gapsul (cyclic) year. A royal edict encouraging farming was laid down and sent to the eight provinces and two [secondary] capitals [Kaesong and Kanghwa]. Thus the king spoke: "Ever since I took the throne, how many times already have I laid down teachings encouraging farming? The foundation of the state lies in the people. The foundation of the people lies in farming. However the diligence and laziness of farming lie in turn in how management and orders are. Therefore, the previous king established the positions of inspector of farming and manager of farming; the king was eager in considering this of the utmost importance, how could I neglect it? It is for this reason that every time, in the beginning of the year, I always spread out ten lines (royal messages) and use it to order my provincial administrators [and] magistrates to make them spend their effort on ways to encourage agriculture, [but] until now there has not been any result, why is it? Is it that my sincerity of my loving the people is not enough [and thus] not enough to gain confidence from those below? Or is it caused by the laziness of the elderly government officials not upholding to illuminate my virtue of intention? Ah! All people in all eight directions, all are my newborns. Whether they avoided difficulties with food or not, their falling into a ditch(1) worries me and concerns me. Despite my being in the finest yurt(2) [and] my food in jade utensils my heart has never for a moment not been with the people or with the farming. Relying on heaven’s care and help, within the last couple of years rain and sunlight did not delay, thus the sowing and harvest went up a little. Perhaps I do not know the lives of the humble houses, do they all not suffer starvation? The drifting and moving people, are they all collected? The grains of farming, are they all not lacking? Are the deserted lands cleared and cultivated? Indeed, if it is not all so, how can my worries be loosened even a bit? The means to save the people from starvation and embrace them in comfort is to help harvesting and cultivating the lands, if you think about it, this responsibility is with the senior officials, isn’t it? Moreover, the mind of the heaven is unknown and we can hardly trust in repeated abundance, human nature easily turns idle after a little surplus. If we don’t multiply in our encouragements and orders to make people work diligently, then I am fairly afraid that the results of the coming fall will be more serious than the previous days. There are times for plowing and sowing, and weeding and hoeing earth has its season. If the senior officers are able to not deprive the people [of their time and labour] and make them follow along the required time for farming, if the millets are abundant, then be pleased and reward them. If the fields are not well maintained, show anger and punish them. Alas! Among you senior officers, some may be diligent, some may be negligent. They shall be punished and rewarded by the court as well. Today I give you guidance, do not say that it just abides by old matters but watchfully mind [it] and perform."

Student 8

In Kapsul cyclic year, King lays down Royal dictum for encouraging farming: Reverend King says, “Since the time of my throne, how many times have I lay down the teaching of encouraging farming? People’s foundation is in farming. Moreover, the diligence and laziness are in farming. However, they depends on what the encouragement is alike. The late king, Youngjo established the status of the teacher of farming and inspector of fields. He was eager to do this because it should be the foremost task. How could I dare to neglect it? Everytime encountering the beginning of the year, I lay out ten lines of royal encouragement messages to put my provincial magistrates and governers to make them work on ways to encourage farming. However, it is not effective until now. What’s up with that? Perhaps my love for the people is not sincere enough to gain trust. Otherwise, the senior officer is lazy, so he cannot uphold to make illuminate my virtue of intention. Alas! Every people from all directions are my people. Whether or not, they are afraid of being deprived of food. It makes me concerned. Even though I live in royal mansion, facing beautiful food, I never have had a moment not with people, nor with farming. As relying on heaven’s care and help, rain and sunlight has not been delayed since a year or two ago during an increasing of sowing and reaping. I do not know that the lives of humblest houses are suffered from starvation and whether there is no starvation; whether the refugees are drifting around, whether the seed of grains of farming are securely collected, the tough land are recultivated, if it were not so, how could my feelings be loosened? Therefore, the duty of relieving the starvation and embrace the people and recultivating the rough field lies on senior official. Moreover, heaven’s heart does not make sure of repeating the short of abundance. Human nature could easily loosen after the small surplus. If not adding multiple times to make people work diligently, then I am very much worried about coming fall that its concerns might be more serious than the previous years. On the whole, it has the time to rooting out weeds and removing weeds. If one do not take away the time and make people observe farming, so when the melots are growing well, be pleases or reward them, but if the field is not cultivated, show anger and treat them as what has done to the senior official. If this has done successfully, why would’t do the people competively exert themselves being hurry to work and as a result of that, fall harvest may be expected. Alas! the government will give an award and punishment according to your diligence and negligence. Today, what I give you the guidance, you should not say that it just corresponds to old matters and watchfully mind to perform it.”

Student 9

1. King Chŏngjo[1] 正祖, “Royal dictum”(Yunŭm 綸音) (1781)

On the first day of the month kapsul, [the king] laid down the edict on encouraging farming in eight provinces and two capitals[2]: “Thus the king spoke. From the time I took the throne, by far how many times I laid down the instructions in encouraging the farming? The root of the state stays in people, the root of the people stays in agriculture and their diligence and laziness in farming again lies with how the encouragement and orders are like. Therefore the previous king established the inspector of nongsa[3] and chŏnchun[4]. [He] was eager to make only this becoming the first duty. Could I dare neglect it? For ths reason, everytime facing the beginning of the year, I promulgated royal announcements, using it to order my provincial ministers and magistrates to have them exhaust the ways of encouraging of farming but how come that sofar there is no effect until now? Perhaps my sincerity of loving poeple has not been sufficient to be trusted [among the people]. Or is it that the senior officials are lazy and do not uphold well and spread my virtuous intentions? Pfff. All these people in eight directions they are my new-borns. Perhaps they have not avoided being deprived of food or falling into ditches, that makes me worried, albeit living in a mansion and facing beautiful food, in my heart there has never been a moment without people or farming. Relying on the care and help of Heaven, in the last couple of years, rain or sunlight did not skip. Sawing and harvest went up gradually. Perhaps I do not know about the lives in humble houses, if there is no starvation in them all? [If when] drifting and moving of people, should they all be safely collected? If the seeds of farming are they all enough, and if the rough and deserted land should be cleared and cultivated? If everything is not indeed so, how would I dare loosen my concerns even a bit? The way, how to help the starving people and embrace them in comfort, is to help the seeds and to cultivate the deserted land. Should I look back whether the responsibility does not lie with the senior officials? Moreover, the mind of the Heaven we can hardly be sure of a repeating abundance. The human nature is easily to get relaxed for a little surplus. If we indeed do not add encouragement and order multiple times and make people work diligently, I my worries of the coming fall would be on the contrary more serious that in the previous days. So, ploughing and sowing has its time, weeding had its own season. If we cannot take away and make the people to follow the time of farming, if the millet is growing well together, be pleased and reward them. If the field is not cultivated, show anger and punish them. Certainly like the at times of senior officials of the antiquity, how would people not compete and work diligently and perhaps there would be a harvest in fall, would not it? Oh you, senior officials, there will be diligence, there will be negligence. Officials in charge must be also rewarded or punished. Today I gave you lessons. Do not say that it just corresponds the old matters and be focused to perform it.”


[1] King Chŏngjo [2] Two capitals [3] nongsa 農師 [4] chŏnchun 田畯

Student 10

Royal dictum of king Chongjo[1]

In the first day of the year Kapsul (甲戌|갑술|1781), king Chongjo (正祖|정조) descended a dictum to the eight provinces and two capitals[2] for promoting the land farming: “Since I ascended to the throne, how many times I tried to promote the development of the farming! The foundation of the state is the people. The foundation of the people is the land. The diligence and negligence of farming the land depends on how the rules are applied. The previous king established the titles of nongsa and chonjun[3], because he looked at the farming as a priority. So how someone dare to don’t follow it! Every time at the beginning of the year I descend ten lines dictum[4] to my provincial officials and to my governors to make them do their best for encouraging the farming, but till now I can not see the results and now I am asking myself why! Maybe my love to the people is not deep enough and my wish can not reach them? Or maybe my high officials are too lazy in spreading my virtual will? Oh! But I love all my subjects in all eight directions as my sons! I don’t know if my people are hungry or homeless and that makes me worried. Although I am living in a palace and enjoy jade food[5], in my heart there has never been a moment without people and farming. Heaven gave us last couple of years rain and sun on time, sawing and harvest went up gradually. But however I am not sure about the lives in humble houses, if there is no starvation in them? And what about people without home and land, are they collected in safe? If the seeds of farming are enough and the rough deserted land is cleared and cultivated, how would I dare loosen my concerns even a bit? The way to help the starving people and embrace them in comfort is to help the seeds and cultivate the deserted land. So I should look back whether the responsibility does not lie with my senior officials? The will of the Heaven can hardly be sure of a repeating abundance. The human nature is easily to get relaxed for a little surplus, but if we indeed do not add encouragement and order multiple times and make people work diligently, worries of the coming fall would be on the contrary more serious that in the previous days. So, cultivating and sowing has its time, weeding had its own season. If we cannot make the people to follow the farming time, if the millet is growing well together, be pleased and reward them. If the field is not cultivated, show anger and punish them. At the old times of senior officials, people competed and worked diligently. If we do the same, perhaps there would be a harvest in fall. Oh you, my senior officials, there will be diligence, there will be negligence. Officials in charge must be also rewarded or punished. Today I gave you lessons. Do not say that it just corresponds the old matters and be focused to perform it.”


1 Annals of king Chongjo, volume 11, year Kapsul - fifth year of reign, first month, first day (正祖實錄 卷11, 正祖 5年 1月 1日 甲戌 1). 2 In the past Korea has had more than one capital and the number varies in different periods. During the reign of King Chongjo, capitals were Kaison and Kanghwa. 3 Literary nongsa (農師|농사) means “official, responsible for the farming” and chonjun (田畯|전준) – “person in charge of fields”. 4 Ten lines dictum (十行|십행) – well established at that time form of writing the royal orders. 5 Jade is a symbol of the king and “jade food” means “royal food”.

Student 11

The Royal dictum of the King Chongjo In the first day of the year gabsul [king] lowered a dictum to the eight provinces and two secondary capitals for promoting the agriculture: “Since I took the throne, how many times I tried to promote the development of the agriculture! The foundation of the state is the people, the foundation of the people is the land. The diligence and the negligence of the farming depend on how the rules are applied. There for the previous King established the titles of nongsa (agriculturist) and chonsoo (manager of the land, refers to 周禮). He made it in a harry and looked at this task as a priority, so how someone dare to neglect this? For this reason every time in the beginning of the year I spread my royal dictum to my provincial officials and governors to make them do their best for promoting the agriculture, but I don’t see the result of it, and I am asking why? Maybe my love to people is not deep enough and my wish cannot reach them? Or maybe my senior officials are lazy and don’t spread my virtual intentions among the people? Oh! But my people in all 8 directions are all my children, and if they do not have enough food, and suffer, this is sad and warring. Though I live in the royal mansion, eat royal food, and my heart is always with my people and agriculture. I rely of the Heavens care and help. Last two years sunlight and rains came without delay. We saw and reaped and harvest grew up well. But I don’t know if there are some poor houses emerged, that are starving; and if there are some refuges, who left their houses and should be gathered safely [to settle again]; and if there is a shortage of grains, that was ploughed and weeded; and if there is waste land which should be brought under cultivation. If it is not all so, How can I be relaxed even for a little? Gathering and making [people] comfort and relaxed, help with grains and recultivation of waste land are all the responsibility of officials, aren’t they? The will of the Heaven hardly [means] the repeat of the year of abundance. The human nature can be easily relaxed by the small surplus. And If we don’t put order many times, work in the field and in the office, than I’m afraid, that the next autumn may become serious [problem], much worthier, than previous. Ploughing and sowing – all have its own time, weeding and seeding – all have its end. If we do not make them (people) to observe the time [for farming], reward them when the millet is raised well, and show anger and fine them if the field is not ruled well, as it should be as the acts of the officials of the old times, How can we expect an autumn harvest? Oh! You, my senior officials, for [all your] diligence and for [all your] negligence will be rewarded or punished as well. Today I am giving you [this] guidance do not say it corresponds old matters, and keep it in your mind and perform it.

Student 12

The first month of kapsul cyclic year/ King’s edict encouraging farming was laid down to the eight provinces and two (secondary) capitals/cities [Kaeseong and Kanghwa]: “Thus King spoke, ever since I took the throne, how many times by far have I laid down the teaching of encouraging farming? State’s foundation is in the people, people’s foundation is in farming, yet diligence and laziness in farming depends on how management and orders are. Therefore, the previous king installed the inspector of farming and manager of farming, and eager about this being the foremost task, would I dare to neglect it? For this reason every time in the beginning of the year, I always spread out ten lines (royal messages), and using it to order my provincial administrators, (and) magistrates, to make them work on ways to encourage agriculture, but so far there has not been its result - why is this so? Is it perhaps the sincerity of my loving the people, is not enough thus unable to reach to the people below? Or is it that the senior officers are lazy, thus not well uphold and show my virtuous intention? Ah! These people everywhere, all are my newborns. Whether they avoid the difficulty with food, or falling into a ditch (sufferings: i.e. natural disasters), this concerned me, even though I live in the royal mansion [reference to Mongolian tent yulta] and face beautiful/fine food, there was not a moment that my heart was not with the people or with farming. Relying on heaven’s care and help, within the last couple of years rain and sun did not delay, and sowing and harvest has increased by a little, perhaps I do not know the lives in the poor houses, whether they all not suffer starvation; whether the drifters (refugees) who drift and move around, if they all have been taken care of; whether the grains for farming, they all be not lacking, and land of devastation, whether it be all cleared and cultivated. If it is indeed not yet completely so, how dare my worries could be loosened even a little bit? The means of helping the people in starvation and embracing them in comfort is by helping (them) with the crops and the cultivation of rough land, if we think about it isn’t this responsibility with the senior officers? Furthermore, the mind of the heaven we can hardly be sure of repeating abundance, human nature easily be loosened for small surplus, if we don’t add encouragement and order many times, and make people work diligently, then I fairly am afraid of the coming fall, reversely more serious than previous days. Overall, farming has its time and pulling out weeds has its seasons. If you are able not to deprive them (of time and labor), and have them follow along the farming (seasons), if the millets are abundant, [I will] be pleased and award them, and if the field is not well maintained, [I will] be furious and punish them. If it surely be like the acts of the officials of the ancient times, then how can people not competitively work diligently labor, then perhaps we can expect a autumn harvest? Ah! You, senior officials, some are diligent and some are negligent, the court shall award and punish as well. Today I give you guidance, and do not say it responds to old matters, but watchfully mind it and perform it.