(Translation) 2019 洪夔燮

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Original Script



Student Translation : Ethan


Mr. Hong Kisŏp, during youth his poverty was severe and he was without sustenance.


One morning, Mr. Hong’s maid jumped up and presented him with seven ryang (legal currency weight a.k.a. tael), saying “the money was in the caldron, it’s worth several sŏk (bushels) of rice, several bundles of firewood, [a gift] bestowed by the heavens.”


Frightened, Mr. Hong said, “What money is this.” He wrote [a notice] immediately for the person who lost [their] money to come and get it and so forth. Then posting the notice above the gate, he waited. Before long, a man with the last name Ryu came and asked about the meaning of the notice. Mr. Hong explained all of it.


Ryu said, “Who would lose their money in another person’s cauldron? Indeed, the heavens [must have] bestowed it. Why not take it?”

公曰非吾物何,劉俯伏曰,”小的昨夜爲窃鼎來. 還憐家勢蕭條而施之,今感公之廉价,願欲常侍,勿慮取之.”

Mr. Hong replied, “It’s not mine, how could I?” Ryu then lay out prostrate and spoke [of what he himself had done], “Last night, this humble one came to steal the cauldron, but taking pity upon the household for its barrenness, I left a donation. Now moved by the duke’s (Mr. Hong’s?/your?) uprightness (or maybe decency?), I hope to always take care of you; do not worry, take the money."


Mr. Hong immediately returned the money and said, “You’re turning into a good person, that’s good. But the money, I can’t take it.” To the end, he did not accept the money. After this, Mr. Hong became a Minister [of the Six Boards], his son Chae-ryong became the father-in-law to King Hŏnjong, Ryu too was trusted, and he and his family prospered greatly. (Myŏngsim pogam [Precious mirror that clears the mind], Yŏmŭi-p’yŏn [Book of Honest Righteousness?])

  • Discussion Questions:

(YO) I checked out about the character 夔 and 耆. They should be different characters (that is, they shouldn't be used interchangeably)--the former meaning a kind of a mythical monster, the latter 'old man' or '60 years of age.' I think I copied and pasted from 동양고전종합DB: http://db.cyberseodang.or.kr/front/alphaList/BookMain.do?mId=m02&sMode=M. It turns out quite a few web sites repeat the same. At this point, I can't find a reason that they can be related, except for they are homophonous (기).

勿慮取之. - Should this be translated as, "Do not worry, take the money" or "do not worry about taking the money"? What about honorifics? How should we treat repeated direct addresses that use an honorific third person form, esp. when first and second person pronouns, at least to me, sound more natural?
(YO) Syntactically, both are possible. If one must make it clear, one would write 勿慮而取之 for "Don't worry and take the money."

Also, how do we translate 廉義 and 廉价, particularly to emphasize the identification of a politician's poverty with their moral uprightness?
(YO) How about "Integrity and righteousness" and "Integrity and ethic"?