This concludes the series on anti-Qing Ming loyalist poetry (抗淸詩人, 항청시인). The poems were taken from Anthology of Qing Dynasty Classical Chinese Poetry (淸代詩選, 청대시선), translated into Korean by Kim Hakju (金學主, 김학주) a professor at Seoul National University and published by Myungmundang (明文堂, 명문당). I had obtained the book, when I had visited Korea earlier this year. During my visit, I looked around some of the large bookstores, and I noticed that there was more variety of books on Classical Chinese and China in general. With the perceived and real ascendancy of modern China, it seems that many Koreans too are becoming interested in Chinese studies — after all, China is right next door. The breadth and depth of some of the newly published works impressed me. I saw books on Taoist texts with original, historical commentaries by Chinese and Korean scholars and a few that even claimed to be the first Korean translations. There were also more works from other periods of Chinese history.

One period in Chinese history of particular interest is the dynasty transition from the Han-ruled Ming dynasty to the Manchu Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty continues to play a significant role in how the Chinese view and understand themselves today. In the early 20th century, Chinese revolutionaries, such as Sun Yat-sen (孫文, 손문, 1866-1925), often employed anti-Manchu sentiment for their cause. Today, many Chinese fault the Manchus for China’s decline in the 18th-19th centuries and are quite proud of throwing off the Qing dynasty’s yoke. To attain a better understanding of this period, I selected a few poems from the anthology I thought that were interesting on this topic:

The list can be found in the exhibit tab at the top of the blog.

Qu Dayun

Qu Dajun (屈大均, 굴대균, 1630-1696) was a late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty scholar and poet. He was born in Panyu (番禺, 반옹), Guangdong Province (廣東省, 광동성); his original name (初名, 초명) was Shaolong (紹隆, 소륭); his courtesy names (字, 자) were Jiezi (子, 개자) and Wengshan (山, 옹산); and his pen name (號, 호) was Caipu (菜圃, 채포). When Manchus invaded Guangdong, Qu Dajun joined several, successive Ming loyalist movements. First, he joined forces under Ming Emperor Yongli (永曆帝, 영력제, 1632-1662, r. 1646-1662). After the Emperor’s forces capitulated to the Qing, he assisted forces headed by by Wei Geng (魏耕, 위경, 1614-1662). When Guangzhou (廣州, 광주) fell to the Manchus in 1650, he decided to become a Buddhist monk, taking on the dharma name (法名, 법명) of Jinzhong (今鐘, 금종). Not too long after, however, Qu Dajun moved to another region of Southern China where other Ming loyalists had fled. In 1659, he joined Koxinga’s (國姓爺, 국성야, 1624-1662) forces in the northern campaign. In 1673, he participated Wu Sangui’s (吳桂, 오삼계, 1612-1678) revolt against the Qing. Qu Dajun joined his last anti-Qing Ming loyalist movement with Zheng Keshuang (鄭克塽, 정극상, 1670-1717), the illegitimate grandson of Koxinga. In 1683, Qu Dajun finally surrendered with Zheng Keshuang, and promised to the Manchus that he would not take up arms against them. Throughout this time, he composed many poems on the brutality of war as well as the toils of common people. His writing collections include Wengshan Shiwai (翁山詩外, 옹산시외), Wengshan Yiwai (翁外, 옹산역외), Guangdong Xinyu (廣語, 광동신어), and Doushoudang Ji (道集, 도수당집). Some of Qu Dajun’s writings were banned in 1774 during the literary inquisitions (文字獄, 문자옥) of Emperor Qianlong (乾隆帝, 건륭제, 1711-1799, r. 1735-1796). 

魯連臺 노련대

Lulian Tower

一笑無秦帝 일소무진제
飄然向海東 표연향해동
誰能排大難 수능배대난
不屑計奇功 불설계기공
古戍三秋雁 고수삼추안
高臺萬木風 고대만목풍
從來天下士 종래천하사
只在布衣中 지재포의중

One laughter, having obliterated the Qin Emperor,
Flutters and streams toward the east of the sea.
Who can repel the great disaster,
And disdain the counting of their marvelous deeds?
From the old cantonment, the third month of autumn’s wild geese;
Upon the high tower, ten thousand trees’ winds.
Hitherto, the talented below heaven,
Only existed amid hemp clothes.


One • laugh • to ignore • Qin • emperor
Fluttering • grammatical particle • to face • sea • east
Who • to be able • to repel • great • disaster
Not • disdain • to count • marvelous • deeds
Old • cantonment • third • autumn • wild goose
High • tower • ten-thousand • trees • wind
From • to come • heaven • under • scholar
Only • to exist • hemp • clothes • amid


  • Pentasyllabic regulated poem (五言律詩, 오언율시). Riming character (韻, 운) is 東(동).
  • 魯連臺(노련대) – Lulian tower is in modern day Liaocheng (聊城, 요성) in Shandong Province (山東省, 산동성). Lulian (魯連, 노련) refers to Lu Zhonglian (魯仲連, 노중련, ?-?), a scholar of the Qi state (齊, 제, 1046-221BC). When he was visiting the Zhao state (趙, 조, 403-222BC) to see King Xiaocheng (趙孝成王, 조혜성왕, r. 266-245BC), forces of the Qin state (秦, 진, 900?-206BC) surrounded the Zhao state’s capital, Handan (鄲, 한단). The Zhao state requested the Wei state (魏, 위, 403-225BC) to help break the siege. Wei state, in return, replied that if the Zhao recognized the ruler of the Qin state as the emperor, the Qin would withdraw their forces. One of the Wei state’s ministers, Xin Yuanyan (新垣衍, 신원연, ?-?), had earlier proposed that King Zhao of Qin (秦昭王, 진소왕, 324-251BC, r. 305-251BC) declare himself emperor. Lu Zhonglian fervently opposed this proposal, famous remarking, “I, Lian, would rather step into the eastern sea and die” (連耳, 련유답동해이사이). He successfully persuaded Lord Pingyuan of Zhao (平君, 평원군, ?-251BC) not to recognize the Qin King as emperor. In the end, the Qin withdrew their forces and broke the siege. The Zhao state government tried to bestow Lu Zhonglian gifts for his service, but he refused and retired to live in seclusion. Sometime after, the people of Zhao erected Lulian tower in commemoration. 
  • 不屑(불설) – The entire word means “to disdain” or “to trivialize.”
  • 布衣(포의) – Literally, “hemp clothes.” Refers to common people’s clothing.

(Source – South Korean Air Force)

Although Korean writing today is almost entirely Hangul exclusive (–專用, 한글전용), examples of Hanja (漢字, 한자) and Classical Chinese (漢文, 한문) occasionally still pop up in popular press. Above is a photo that has been spreading of a F-15K “Slam Eagle” fighter jet taken after a joint US-Korea exercise on November 19. The fighter jet is decorated with the phrase, “枕戈待敵 刻骨延坪(침과대적 각골연평).” It translates to “Lying with a spear and waiting for the enemy, never forget Yeongpyeong Island!” (Or literally, “carve on the bone, ‘Yeongpyeong.'”) The phrase was composed by Choi Chagyu (崔且圭, 최차규, 1956-), the current Air Force Chief of Staff. It is in reference to the shelling of Yeongpyeong Island, an island off the western coast of the peninsula, that occurred four years ago on November 23, 2010. The shelling resulted in the four deaths and twenty-one casualties, some of whom were civilians. The first four characters are taken out of Book of the Southern Qi Dynasty (南齊書, 남제서).

A few of the comments on Korean social media complained that non-Koreans will confuse the airplane for that of the Chinese Air Force or that Hangul should have been used. Fortunately, others have rebutted that the Chinese Air Force would have used simplified, that Hanja is just as part of Korean culture, or that it would take a lot longer to write the same meaning in Hangul. Regarding the first assertion, I would like to add that most non-East Asians will confuse the Yin-Yang (陰陽, 음양), which appears prominently on the Korean flag and is in the roundel of the Korean Air Force along with the tetragram for heaven ☰ (乾, 건) as seen in the photo, for a Chinese-only symbol anyway. Therefore, such arguments are pointless and nothing more than a sign of insecurity.


Hanja-Hangul Study - Brain Activation

One of the many arguments in the Hangul exclusivity (–專用, 한글전용) versus Hanja-Hangul mixed script (國漢文混用, 국한문혼용) relates to neurology. Mixed script advocates point out that Hanja (漢字, 한자), i.e., Chinese characters, is more stimulative for the brain and therefore better for brain development. (Hangul exclusivity advocates say it is too difficult for children without any empirical basis.) This assertion has now been tested by a Korean university in a recently published neurological study on Hanja and Hangul comprehension. Researchers conducted two experiments and took functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) images from brain of the test subjects.

The first experiment tested which parts of the brain were activated when Hangul and Hanja were presented to the subjects. There were twelve subjects, including six males and six females, with an average age of 28. The researchers used 150 disyllabic Sino-Korean words written in Hanja deemed to be of fifth rank difficulty on the Hanja proficiency exam (i.e., 500 characters) and 150 words written Korean words in Hangul. Subjects were presented these words in rapid succession: one word for each second in the first 30 seconds and then allowed to rest for the next 30 seconds. This process was repeated five times.

The fMRI images showed that when Hanja was presented, the Broca’s area on the left hemisphere, premotor cortex, superior parietal lobule, fusiform gyrus, and extrastriate cortex were triggered.  In contrast, when Hangul was presented, only the angular gyrus and the inferior frontal area were triggered. These findings suggest that Hanja and Hangul activate different parts of the brain. The researchers, however, cautioned on concluding that Hanja was superior to Hangul just because it triggered more parts of the brain. Instead, they explained that each script, one being logographic and the other phonetic, has its own characteristics. 

The second experiment tested the memorization of Hanja versus Hangul names. For this experiment, there were also twelve subjects, including seven males and five females, with an average age of 27. While researchers took fMRI images, the subjects were shown 40 names in Hanja and in Hangul, and then were asked to identify the 80 names in total mixed in random order 1 minute, 10 minutes, and 120 minutes after.

The task experiment data showed that subjects were much better at memorizing names in Hanja versus Hangul. With Hanja, subjects recognized names at a rate of 96%, 88%, and 79% out at each of the time intervals respectively. In contrast, with Hangul, subjects only recognized names at a rate of 52%, 28%, and 12% respectively. Researchers concluded that subjects recognized Hanja better than Hangul because Hanja is a logogram.

Based on the two experiments, the researchers reasoned that it is possible that since Hanja and Hangul trigger different parts of the brain, mixed script education might help students’ brain development.


Louxuan Poetry Collection

Wu Jiaji (吳嘉紀, 오가기, 1618-1684) was a late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty poet. He was born in Taizhou (泰州, 태주), Jiangsu Province (江蘇省, 강소성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Binxian (賢, 빈현); and his pen name (號, 호) was Yeren (野人, 야인). Wu Jiaji was from an impoverished background, and had very little to eat even during bumper years. Although he worked as a laborer, he enjoyed reading and composing poetry. When the Manchus invaded China, he joined the Ming loyalist forces fight against the Qing. During this time, he witnessed many atrocities committed by the pillaging Manchu army. After Ming loyalist forces capitulated, he decided to retire to his home village where he continued to live in solitude and in abject poverty. He wrote several poems, many of which portray in vivid detail the brutalities of the Manchu army. In his composition below, he describes one story from the Yangzhou massacre (揚州大虐殺, 양주대학살), which took place in 1645 after the city’s capitulation. His poems can be found in the Louxuan Poetry Collection (陋軒詩集, 누헌시집). Please do note that the following poem may be a bit gory. 

李家娘 이가낭

The Li Family’s Daughter-in-Law

乙酉夏, 兵陷郡城, 李氏婦被掠.
을유하, 병함군성, 리씨부피략.

In the summer of the Yiyou year (乙酉, 을유) (1645), [Manchu] soldiers took control of Juncheng (郡城, 군성) and the Mr. Li’s wife was captured.

  • 郡城(군성) – Refers to Yangzhou (揚州, 양주).

掠者百計求近, 不屈. 越七日夜, 聞其夫歿, 婦哀號撞壁, 顱碎腦出而死.
략자백계구근, 불굴. 월칠일야, 문기부몰, 부애호동벽, 로쇄뇌출이사.

The pillagers attempted a hundred times demanding her to come near, but she did not yield. When the seventh day’s night had passed, she heard that her husband had perished. The wife sorrowfully cried, striking [her head] into the wall. Her cranium broke and her brain poured out, leading to her death.

時掠者他出, 歸乃怒裂婦尸, 剖腹取心肺示人. 見者莫不驚悼, 感稱李家娘云.
시략자타출, 귀내노렬부시, 배복취심폐시인. 견자막불경도, 감칭리가낭운.

At that time, the pillagers were outside elsewhere and when they returned angrily cut up the wife’s corpse. They sliced her stomach, took her heart and lungs, and showed it to the others. Among those who saw, no one could not but be in shock and mourn. It is said that all praised the daughter-in-law of the Li family.

城中山白死人骨 城外水赤死人血
성중산백사인골 성외수적사인혈
殺人一百四十萬 新城舊城內有幾人活
살인일백사십만 신성구성내유기인활

Inside the fortress, the mountain is white with the bones of the dead;
Outside the fortress, the waters are red with the blood of the dead.
The murdered number one million and four hundred thousand.
Within the new fortress and the old fortress, how many men are alive?
First stanza.

妻方對鏡 夫已墮首
처방대경 부이타수
腥刀入鞘 紅顏隨走
성도입초 홍안수주
西家女 東家婦
서가녀 동가부
如花李家娘 亦落强梁手
여화리가낭 역락강량수

Just as the wife faces the mirror,
Her husband’s head has already fallen.
With the bloody sword having entered its sheath,
The red faced woman is pulled and taken away.
The west house’s miss,
The east house’s wife,
And the Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Altogether have fallen into the hand’s of the aggressive and raven.
Second stanza.

Read More

Characters Permissible for Name Use to Increase

The Korean Supreme Court (大法院, 대법원) has recently announced that it will increase the list of Chinese characters permitted in Korean names (人名用漢字, 인명용한자) from 5,761 to 8,142 characters “to enhance the convenience of the people,” effective next year. The court first promulgated the list in 1991, only permitting some 2,731 characters to be used in names. Korean citizens were born after January 1 of that year could not have a Chinese character in their name that was not in that list. The explanation given was to limit the use of obscure, difficult characters and to allow for easier entry into computer databases.

The original list, unfortunately, was extremely lacking. One family clan in particular was especially affected, because its incoming generation then had the generation name (行列字, 항렬자 or 돌림) of 禝(직, Jik), a character not on the list. They filed a petition to include it, but the Supreme Court refused until now. In addition, there were many instances where parents would pick a rare character with some special meaning for their child, but only to find out that it was not on the list. There are also a number of famous figures in Korean history whose names would not have been permitted, such as the character 睟(수) in Yi Sugwang (李睟光, 이수광, 1563-1628), a famous scholar.

This is not the first time the list has expanded. It was increased to 3,079 in 2003 and then to 5,761 in 2005. (Note that there are over 40,000 characters in the Kangxi Dictionary (康熙字典, 강희자전), the vast majority of which were rarely used if only once or are no longer used.)

Some of the characters that have been added to the list include:

  • 侔(모, mo) – To be uniform, even (가지런하다)
  • 敉(미, mi) – To stroke or comfort (어루만지다)
  • 縑(겸, gyeom) – A type of silk (비단)
  • 晈(교, gyo) – Moonlight (달빛)
  • 婧(정, jeong) – To be thin (날씬하다); to be chaste (정결하다)
  • 夤(인, in) – To be careful (조심하다)
  • 唔(오, o) – The sound of reading (글 읽는 소리)
  • 氳(온, on) – Vigor, spirit (기운)
  • 耦(우, u) – To travel in line (나란히 가다)
  • 姺(선, seon) – To walk (걷다)

As for Korea’s neighbors, Japan has had a list of Chinese characters permitted in names since 1948. The current list only has 2,997 characters. To my knowledge, there are no such limitations in China.


Gu Wanyu

Gu Yanwu (顧炎武, 고염무, 1613-1683) was a Ming and Qing dynasty era Neo-Confucian scholar. He was born in Kunshan (崑山, 곤산), Jiangsu Province (江蘇省, 강소성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Ningren (寧仁, 영인); and his pen name (號, 호) was Tinglin (亭林, 정림). Gu Yanwu was recognized from an early age for his intellect, but following his mother’s will he never took up any bureaucratic posts. When the Manchus invaded, he took up arms with an irregular army around Kunshan and almost lost his life on the battlefield. The poem below describes the brutal aftermath of one such battle. After he fled southern China, he roamed around northern China, reading classics and expanding his knowledge of geography, and spent his final years in seclusion in Huayin (華陰, 화음), Shanxi Province (陜西省, 섬서성). His interest in geography in particular is also apparent in the following poem. Even after his time with Ming loyalist forces, he did not support the Qing dynasty and refused Emperor Kangxi’s (康熙, 강희, 1654-1722, r. 1661-1722) attempt to appease the ethnic majority Han people (漢族, 한족) by inviting well respected Chinese scholars to the court. Gu Yanwu was also a prolific writer and composed several works, including a number on Neo-Confucianism. He heavily criticized the Yangming School (陽明學, 양명학) and also distanced himself from Zhu Xi’s teachings (朱熹, 주희, 1130-1200), and advocated a more practical and realistic approach to governance, forwarding the idea of “administrating the world and pursuing the pragmatic” (經世致用, 경세치용). Gu Yanwu laid out this in his work, the Record of Daily Study (日知錄, 일지록), a thirty two volume tome, on a variety of topics such as classics, history, politics, astronomy, geography, arts, and customs. He is considered the father of the Evidentiary School of Thought (考證學, 고증학), and one of the Three Great Confucians (三大儒, 삼대유) of the late Ming and early Qing period along with Wang Fuzhi (王夫之, 왕부지, 1619-1692) and Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 황종희, 1610-1695).

秋山 추산

Autumn Mountains

秋山復秋山 秋雨連山殷
추산부추산 추우련산은
昨日戰江口 今日戰山邊
작일전강구 금일전산변

An autumn mountain. Again, another autumn mountain.
Autumn rains over the connected mountains are thick.
Yesterday, there was a battle at the river’s mouth;
Today, there is a battle upon the mountain’s base.

Autumn • mountain • again • autumn • mountain
Autumn • rain • connecting • mountains • to be lush
Yesterday • day • battle • river • mouth
Now • day • battle • mountain • edge

已聞右甄潰 復見左拒殘
기문우진궤 부견좌거잔
旌旗埋地中 梯衝舞城端
정기매지중 제충무성단

I already heard that the right base has broken;
I again saw that the the left wing was slaughtered.
The standards and colors were buried in the ground;
The scaling ladder and battering ram struck the end of the fortress.

Already • to hear • right • flank • to break
Again • to see • left • wing • to die
Feathered flag • flag • to bury • earth • middle
Ladder • ram • to incite • castle • end

一朝長平敗 伏尸遍岡巒
일조장평패 복시편강만
胡裝三百舸 舸舸好紅顏
호장삼백가 가가호홍안

On one morning, Changping (長平, 장평) was lost:
Corpses faced down are all over hill and mountain.
In barbaric ornament are three hundred ships:
On each ship, there are beautiful red faces.

One • morning • geographic name • geographic name • to lose
To lay facing down • corpses • all around • small mountain • large mountain
Barbarian • ornament • three • hundred • ships
Ship • ship • good • red • faces

  • 長平(장평) – During the Warring States period (戰國時代, 전국시대), the town of Changping suffered a brutal massacre after the Zhao state (趙, 조) lost to the Qin (秦, 진). This event is referenced in Yangzi’s Model Words (揚子法言, 양자법언), eleventh chapter of Yuan and Quan volume (淵騫卷第十一, 연건권제십일):

秦將白起不仁, 奚用爲也. 長平之戰, 四十萬人死. 蚩尤之亂, 不過於此矣.
진장백기불인, 해용위야. 장평지전, 사십만인사. 치우지전, 불과어차의.

Qin General Bai Qi (白起, 백기, ?-257BC) was not benevolent. How was he used in action? At the battle of Changping, 400,000 died. Chi You’s (蚩尤, 치우) invasions did not exceed this [amount].

原野厭人之肉, 川谷流人之血, 將不仁, 奚用爲!
원야염인지육, 천곡류인지혈, 장불인, 해용위!

The plains and fields were covered with human flesh; the streams and valleys flowed with human blood. The general was not benevolent. How was he used in action!

  • 好紅顏(호홍안) – Literally “good, red face.” Refers to a beautiful woman.

吳口擁橐駝 鳴笳入燕關
오구옹탁타 명가입연관
昔時鄢郢人 猶在城南間
석시언영인 유재성남간

Upon Wu country’s (吳, 오) inlet, camels crowd about;
The ringing reed pipes enter Yan Pass (燕關, 연관).
In ancient times, the people of Wan (鄢, 언) and Ying (郢, 영)
Still remained in the area south of the fortresses.

Wu • mouth • to be dirty • camel • camel
To sing • reed pipe • to enter • geographic name • geographic name
Ancient • times • geographic name • geographic name • people
Still • to exist • castle • south • area

  • 燕關(연관) – A passage near Shanhai Pass (山海關, 산해관) and Juyong Pass (居庸關, 거용관) in Hebei Province (河北省, 하북성).
  • 鄢郢(언영) – Wan and Ying were the capitals of the Chu state (楚, 초, 1030-223BC). Reference to another event during the Warring States Period after the Qin destroyed the Chu state, as recorded in the Strategies of the Warring States (戰國策, 전국책).

鄢郢大夫, 不欲爲秦, 而在城南下者百數,
언영대부, 불욕위진, 이재성남하자백수,

The noblemen of Wan and Yin did not wish to serve the Qin, and those who remained south of the capital were in the hundreds.

王收而與之百萬之師, 使收楚故地, 則武關可以入矣.
왕수이여지백만지사, 사수초고지, 즉무관가이입의.

If the King [of the Qi state] gathered and gave them one million of soldiers, they could recover Chu state’s old lands and then [our territory] could reach up to Wu Pass (武關, 무관).

  • Pentasyllabic ancient style poetry (五言古體詩, 오언고체시). This style does not adhere any tonal meter or follow rime strictly.

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