Cho Sanggyeong – New Year Morning

DdeokgukCho Sanggyeong (趙尙絅, 조상경, 1681-1746) was a Chosun literati bureaucrat. He was of the Pungyang Cho Clan (豊壤趙氏, 풍양조씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Jajang (子章, 자장); his pen name (號, 호) was Hakdang (鶴塘, 학당); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Gyeongheon (景獻, 경헌). Since he was affiliated with the Old Doctrines Faction (老論派, 노론파, Noronpa), during the Literati Purge of 1721-1722 (辛壬士禍, 신임사화), he was imprisoned and exiled. After the purge, he was released and allowed to attain government posts.

In the poem below, he writes about rice cake soup, more commonly known as Ddeokguk (떡국) and less commonly as Byeongtang (餠湯, 병탕). Similar to today, the eating of Ddeokguk was associated with the New Year (설날) during Cho Sanggyeong’s time. Indeed, one of the other names for Ddeokguk is “Rice cakes that add on one year of age,” or Cheomsebyeong (添歲餠, 첨세병). The origin of Ddeokguk and the custom of eating it on the New Year are unknown.

元朝 원조

New Year Morning

五十二年年已殘 오십이년년이잔
男兒事業鏡頻看 남아사업경빈간
衰容餞歲添愁易 쇠용전세참수이
旅榻逢春護病難 려탑봉춘호병난
盃酒強憑東俗辦 배주강빙동속판
餠湯遙憶少兒歡 병탕소억소아환
家山杳杳天涯隔 가산묘묘천애격
誰念虛窓獨夜寒 수렴허창독야한

At age of the fifty-two years, my age is already is cruel.
The work and enterprise of men and children is to look frequently at a mirror.
In my weak appearance, as I send off the year, it is easy to add to worries;
On a guest’s table, as I meet Spring, it is difficult to assist the sickness.
My cup of wine strongly depends on the work of Eastern customs;
My rice cake soup (餠湯, 병탕) distantly considers the joys of young children.
The mountains of my hometown are far and distant and between heaven’s end.
Who ponders within the empty window that he alone during the night is cold?


  • Second line of the poem is possibly a reference to the fifth line of a poem by Du Fu (杜甫, 두보, 712-770). The fifth and sixths lines are considered famous lines (名句, 명구).

江上 강상

Above the River

江上日多雨 강상일다우
蕭蕭荊楚秋 소소형초추
高風下木葉 고풍하목엽
永夜攬貂裘 영야람초구
勳業頻看鏡 훈업빈간경
行藏獨倚樓 행장독기루
時危思報主 시위사보주
衰謝不能休 쇠사불능휴

Above the river, all day, it has rained much;
The lonely and melancholy thornbush and bramble are like autumn.
The high wind knocks down the leaves of a tree;
The eternal night clutches the marten’s fur clothes.
Meritorious work looks frequently at the mirror;
Travelling and hiding is to lean on the tower.
When the times are dangerous, to think about repaying the lord,
Is to thank weakly and to not be able to rest.


  • 餞(전) – To send off (보내다).
  • 榻(탑) – Table (卓子, 탁자).
  • 憑(빙) – To lean or depend (기대다).
  • 辦(판) – To work (힘들다).
  • 家山(가산) – Hometown.
  • 杳(묘) – To be vast (아득하다).
  • 行藏(행장) – Literally, to travel and to hide. It refers to one’s temperament.
  • 貂裘(초구) – Marten fur clothes.

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