Pak Yunmuk (朴允黙, 박윤묵, 1771-1849) was a late Chosun dynasty literati scholar. He was of the Milyang Pak Clan (密陽朴氏, 밀양박씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was (士執, 사집); and his pen name (號, 호) was Jonjae (存齋, 존재). He was a noted calligrapher and a poet, and left over 25 volumes of writings.
In the poem below, Pak Yunmuk recounts eating Sujebi (수제비) on a cold winter day. Sujebi in Classical Chinese is written as Baktak (餺飥, 박탁) or Undubyeong (雲頭餠, 운두병) particularly in Chosun texts. The first references to Sujebi date back to 6th century China. It is not certain when the food entered Korea. However, the use of wheat, which is used to make Sujebi, in Korean cuisine is known to have started sometime during the Goryeo Dynasty (高麗, 고려, 918-1392). It was considered a Yangban (兩班, 양반) cuisine until the 20th century, since wheat was an imported grain and was in scarce amounts until then. Baktak (餺飥, 박탁) is no longer a food eaten in China; however, Japan does have a variation of it known as Houtou.
A Thoughtless Composition on a Winter Day
How are the valley’s waters clean and pure?
How are the mountain’s winds whistling and howling?
As the leaves fall, the time of the blowing comes;
Above the railing, they are mutually and widely surrounded.
In the middle, there is one cold scholar;
In loneliness and solitude, he protects a small stool.
Foolishly, he sits on it all day;
No person together has replied.
This heart is like slacked lime:
It is almost akin the remiss the three evil works.
The mood of the mountain suddenly became in misery and in distress:
It brews snow; yet snow has not fallen.
Who insists on the bitter cold?
Gradually, the sunlight is seen going pale.
A kitchen worker knocks on the ice and arrives;
The grief and sorrow has become Sujebi (餺飥, 박탁).
Cheerfully, I became full from eating:
It can soothe the bleakness and desolation.
In my cold throat, there forms the warmth of Spring.
I spew forth a newly created poem.
- The first reference to Sujebi can be found in the under Su’in and Sujebi Method Section (水引餺飥法, 수인박탁법) in the Rice Cake Methods Chapter (餠法, 병법) of the Main Techniques for the Welfare of the People (齊民要術, 제민요술, Jeminyosul), a Chinese work on agricultural techniques dating back to the 6th century. The first line describes how to make Su’in (水引, 수인) and the second line describes how to make Sujebi or Baktak (餺飥, 박탁):
挼如箸大, 一尺一斷, 盤中盛水浸, 宜以手臨鐺上, 挼令薄如韭葉逐沸煮.
나여저대, 일척일단, 반중성수침, 의이수림당상, 나령박여비엽축불저.
Massage [the dough] like a large chopstick. At every foot, cut once. In the middle of a tray, fill with a lot of water and submerge. Rightfully, with the hand placed above the brass kettle, massage to make it thin like a chive leaf and finally boil and simmer it.
挼如大指許, 二寸一斷, 水盆中浸, 宜以手向盆旁挼使極薄, 皆急火逐沸熟煮.
나여대지허, 이촌일단, 수분중침, 의이수향분방나사극박, 개급화축불숙저.
Massage [the dough] like a large finger. At every two inches, cut once. In the middle of the water pot, submerge it. Rightfully, with the hands facing next to the pot, massage it so that it becomes very thin. All then [should be] put in an intense fire and then finally boiled and simmered well done.
- 死灰(사회) is an abbreviation for 枯木死灰(고목사회), which is a reference to the Adjustment of Controversies Chapter (齊勿論, 제물론) of Zhuangzhi (莊子, 장자, Jangja):
南郭子綦隱几而坐, 仰天而噓, 嗒焉似喪其耦. 顏成子游立侍乎前, 曰:
남곽자기은궤이좌, 앙천이허, 탑언사상기우. 안성자유립시호전, 왈:
Nan-Guo Zi-Qi (南郭子綦, 남곽자기, Namgwak Jagi) was seated, leaning forward on his stool. He was looking up to heaven and breathed gently, seeming to be in a trance, and to have lost all consciousness of any companion. (His disciple), Yan Cheng Zi-You (顏成子游, 안성자유, An Seong Jayu), who was in attendance and standing before him, said,
“何居乎? 形固可使如槁木, 而心固可使如死灰乎?
“하거호? 형고가사여고목, 이심고가사여사회호?
‘What is this? Can the body be made to become thus like a withered tree, and the mind to become like slaked lime?
His appearance as he leans forward on the stool to-day is such as I never saw him have before in the same position.’
子綦曰: “偃, 不亦善乎而問之也! 今者吾喪我, 汝知之乎?
자기왈: “안, 불역선호이문지야! 금자오상아, 여지지호?
Zi-Qi said, ‘Yan, you do well to ask such a question, I had just now lost myself; but how should you understand it?
You may have heard the notes of Man, but have not heard those of Earth; you may have heard the notes of Earth, but have not heard those of Heaven.’
Translation by James Legge
- The “three karmas” (三業, 삼업) is a reference to Buddhism. In this poem, they are also referring to the ten evils (十惡, 십악) referring to these three works. They are:
- Karma of the body (身業, 신업): murder (殺生, 살생), theft (偸盜, 투도), and adultery (邪淫, 사음);
- Karma of the mouth (口業, 구업): thoughtless remarks (妄言, 망언), flattery (綺語, 기어), playing both sides against each other (兩舌, 양설), distortion (惡口, 악구); and
- Karma of the mind (意業, 의업): avarice (貪慾, 탐욕), anger (嗔喪, 진애), and foolishness (愚癡, 우치)
- 澗(간) – Valley (골짜기).
- 颯颯(삽삽) – The sound of the wind (바람소리).
- 匝(잡) – To surround (두르다).
- 榻(탑) – Stool or bench (걸상).
- 癡(치) – To be stupid (어리석다).
- 酬(수) – To repay or recompense (보답하다).
- 慘澹(참담) – State of misery.
- 敲(고) – To knock (두드리다).
- 咄嗟(돌차) – Being in a state of grief while clicking the tongue.
- 餺飥(박탁) – Sujebi (수제비).
- 蕭索(소삭) – Bleak and desolate.
- 喉(후) – Throat (목구멍).