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Joseon Queen’s Collection Discovered

Posted February. 09, 2007 06:46,   


“How can I eat such noble foods with my lowly mouth?” said the queen’s father, lying on his face, stepping backward when his daughter handed him light refreshments.

Three collections of works written by a Joseon Queen in Hangeul are attracting the academic world’s attention.

On February 8, Ewha Womans University Korean Literature professor Jeong Ha-yeong announced that he had verified the three collections of works written by the 3rd Queen of King Sukjong, 19th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty. He acquired them through Lee Byeong-chang, an antique seller, last May.

Jeong explained, “At first, I thought they were transcripts, but upon close inspection of the form of binding, the elegant layering, and the tidy handwriting, I was able to confirm that they were written by the queen herself.”

Seoul National University curator Shin Byeong-joo said, “The historical value of the collections is very high since there are few of them written by queens in Hangeul.” There are only two collections in Hangeul written by royal women: “Gyechuk ilgi” by Inmok daebi, queen of King Seonjo, and “Hanjungrok” by Hyegyeonggung Hong, wife of Prince Sado Seja.

The newly discovered collections include “Syeongun Yumang” and “Syeongbi Yumang,” records of the queen’s relationship with her parents after she became queen in 1702, and “Ryuga Nyukjang,” a collection of her favorite literary works. “Syeongun Yumang” portrays the court’s strict rules in detail. “Father always behaved himself with care whenever he entered the court. He never rolled his eyes and looked sideways, bending his back and only looking at the nose of his shoes.”

Jeong said, “The collections’ vivid record of what the queen’s parents did and said will be helpful in understanding the court life of the queen’s family. In addition, the record in Hangeul is also expected to be of help to researchers of 18th century Hangeul and court language.”

Seo Su-yong, secretary-general of Bakyakhoe, a Confucian scholarly organization which participated in the verification of the collections, said, “There is no doubt the queen herself wrote it since first-person memoir-style sentences like “When I was young” were used, and father Kim Ju-shin’s deeds match those in Joseon Wangjo Sillok’s “Gukgu Kim Ju-shin jolgi.”

Jeong is planning to report his discovery to the academic world through a research paper on the collections to be included in “Studies of Korean Culture,” a journal published by the Ewha Womans University Korean Culture Center, due out at the end of this month.