Jeong Yak’yong (丁若鏞, 정약용, 1762-1836) was a literati scholar and was a literati bureaucrat. He is of the Naju Jeong Clan (羅州丁氏, 나주정씨). He had a number of pen names (號, 호), the most well known of which is Dasan (茶山, 다산). His courtesy name (字, 자) was Miyong (美庸, 미용). He was interested in a variety of knowledge that was floating about his time, including philosophy, religion, maths, and sciences. Jeong Yak’yong was of the Practical Learning Movement (實學, 실학, Silhak), a school of thought in Neo-Confucianism during the Chosun Dynasty. Like many in the movement, he converted to Catholicism, known as Western Learning (西學, 서학, Seohak) at the time. He later left the Church over the issue of ancestral rites, although that did not prevent him from being exiled by the Chosun government for his links to other Korean Catholics.
In the poem below, Jeong Yak’yong lampoons Im Seong’un (林性雲, 임성운), who had been recently appointed the position of Chief Magistrate, or Dohobusa (都護府使, 도호부사), of Seoheung (瑞興, 서흥). He also describes the eating of Naengmyeon (冷麵, 냉면) at this time, which apparently was garnished with deer meat and cabbage and was enjoyed during in cooler seasons. According to the Record of the Times and Years of the Eastern Country (東國歲時記, 동국세시기), it was usually eaten during the 11th Month on the lunar calendar and was garnished with pork, and radish and cabbage Kimchi. Naengmyeon today is a dish associated with Summer and is usually garnished with beef and cucumbers.
Sent As a Joke to the Chief Magistrate of Seoheung Lord Im Seong’un
The Magistrate (都護, 도호) of Seoheung (瑞興, 서흥) was born a great fool.
In his music room, he locked up Gisaeng, like a bamboo cage for parrots.
The golden threads of the smokey leaves stain his bamboo pipe.
Employing Gisaeng to start the fire, he made beautiful affection.
At Seogwan (西關, 서관), in October, the snow is piled a foot high.
In the overlapping curtains, within the soft blankets, to keep a resting guest:
In a conical bamboo hat shaped warm pot, heat a broth of red deer meat;
Cut branches on cold noodles (冷麪, 냉면), garnished with blue cabbages.
From the King’s court, graces and favors gather at your house.
When you were twenty years old, you had your will over a city and the multitude’s lamentations;
Becoming thirty years old, you divide your debt notes till you’re forty or fifty.
But with your pretty face, you are still like this half-blossomed flower.
- Dohobusa (都護府使, 도호부사) was a title of a government post. In the Chosun Dynasty, it was the of the Jong 3 Rank (從三品, 종삼품).
- Seoheung (瑞興, 서흥) is in Hwanghaedo Province (黃海道, 황해도).
- Seogwan (西關, 서관) refers to the Northwestern region of Korea, which includes Pyeong’ando (平安道, 평안도) and Hwanghaedo (黃海道, 황해도).
- 憨(감) – To be foolish (어리석다).
- 籠(롱) – Bamboo basket (대바구니).
- 鸚(앵) – Parrot (앵무새).
- 斑(반) – To stain (아롱지다).
- 倩(청) – To employ (고용하다).
- 氍(구) – Blanket (담요).
- 笠(립) – Bamboo Hat (삿갓).
- 銚(요) – Pot (냄비).
- 臠(련) – Minced meat (저민고기).
- 菘(송) – Cabbage (배추).
- 菹(저) – Cabbage (배추); Kimchi (김치).
- 專(전) – Here, it means to have one’s way (멋대로 하다).
- 韶(소) – A type of court music (풍류이름); To be beautiful (아름답다).