Kim Shiseup – Excerpts from Jeopo at the Temple of Ten Thousand Fortunes

Jeopo

Kim Shiseup (金時習, 김시습, 1435-1493) was a Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat. He was of the Gangreung Kim Clan (江陵金氏, 강릉김씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Yeolgyeong (悅卿, 열경); his pen name (號, 호) was Maeweoldang (梅月堂, 매월당); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Cheonggan (淸簡, 청간). Claiming that he could not serve two kings (不事二君, 불사이군), Kim Shiseup was one of six civil servants that survived (生六臣, 생육신, Saengyukshin) after voluntarily withdrawing from government posts when King Sejo (世祖, 세조, 1417-1468, r. 1455-1468) usurped the throne from King Danjong (端宗, 단종, 1441-1457, r. 1452-1455). Although he was a Neo-Confucianist, Kim Shiseup joined a Buddhist temple and became a monk shortly thereafter.

He was also well known for his skill in prose and poetry. Kim Shiseup was the author of the New Tale of the Golden Terrapinor Geum’oshinhwa (金鰲新話, 금오신화), the first short novel written by a Korean. The first chapter of this novel is entitled “Jeopo at the Temple of Ten Thousand Fortunes,” or Manboksajeopogi (萬福寺摴蒲記, 만복사저포기), an excerpt of which has been translated below. In that chapter, the game of Jeopo (樗蒲, 저포) is prominently mentioned. The game of Jeopo originates from China and may date back as far as the Xia dynasty (夏, 하, Ha, circa 2070-1600 BC). Chinese records indicate that the game was played in Baekje (百濟, 백제, 18BC-660 AD). It should be noted that due to Jeopo’s similarity in appearance to Yutnori (윷놀이) Korean authors in Classical Chinese texts often referred to Yutnori as Jeopo. The custom of playing Jeopo died out in China at the end of the Song dynasty (宋, 송, Song, 960-1126) with the Mongol invasions. In Korea, it died out sometime during the first half of the 20th century; however, there have been efforts to reintroduce the game to the Korean populace. For the rules of the game, click here ([전통놀이] 저포놀이).

萬福寺摴蒲記 만복사저포기

Jeopo at the Temple of Ten Thousand Fortunes

南原有梁生者, 早喪父母, 未有妻室, 獨居萬福寺之東…
남원유양생자, 조상부모, 미유처실, 독거만복사지동…

In Namweon (南原, 남원), there was a man [named] Yangsaeng (梁生, 양생), whose father and mother passed away early and who did not yet have a wife. He lived alone east of the Temple of Ten-Thousand Fortunes (萬福寺, 만복사)…

日晩梵罷人稀, 生袖摴蒲, 擲於佛前曰: “吾今日, 與佛欲鬪蒲戱,
일만범파인희, 생유저포, 척어불전왈: “오금일, 여불욕투저희,

As the day drew to an end and the Buddhist ceremony ended, people were few. Yangsaeng had within his sleeve Jeopo sticks (摴蒲, 저포) and threw them before Buddha saying, “Today, I wish to challenge Buddha with a game of Jeopo.

 若我負, 則設法筵以賽, 若不負, 則得美女, 以遂我願耳.”
약아부, 즉설법연이새, 약불부, 즉득미녀, 이수아원이.”

If I lose, I will construct a throne for Buddha in order [to repay] the bet. If I do not lose, then I will obtain a beautiful lady, so that I can fulfill my wish.”

祝訖, 遂擲之, 生果勝, 卽跪於佛前曰: “業已定矣, 不可誑矣.”
축을, 수척지, 생과승, 즉궤어불전왈: “업이정의, 불가광의.”

Having finished the blessing, he then threw them. Yangsaeng indeed won and prostrating before Buddha said, “The work has been already decided and cannot be deceived.”

遂隱於几下, 以候其約. 俄而有一美姬, 年可十五六…
수은어궤하, 이후기약. 아이유일미희, 년가십오륙…

Then he hid them under the desk, in order to wait for the promise. Shortly after, there was one beautiful lady, whose age could have been fifteen or sixteen years…

女曰: “當再會, 以盡平生之願爾, 今日到此弊居, 必有夙緣, 宜見鄰里族親, 如何?”
여왈: “당재회, 이진평생지원이, 금일도차폐거, 필유숙연, 의견련리족친, 여하?”

The lady said, “When we meet again, it will be to reach your lifelong wishes. Today, arriving at this weary residence is surely because there was an early relation. It is right to meet your relatives in the neighboring village. How do you think of this?”

生曰: “諾.” 卽命侍兒, 報四鄰以會.
생왈: “낙.” 즉명사아, 보사린이회.

Yangsaeng said, “Certainly.” Then he ordered the attendant child to inform his four neighbors in order to gather.

其一曰鄭氏. 其二曰吳氏. 其三曰金氏. 其四曰柳氏.
기일왈정씨. 기이왈오씨. 기삼왈김씨. 기사왈류씨.

The first was named Chung (鄭氏, 정씨); the second was named Oh (吳氏, 오씨); the third was named Kim (金氏, 김씨); and the fourth was named Yu (柳氏, 유씨).

皆貴家巨族, 而與女子, 同閭閈親戚, 而處子者也.
개귀가거족, 이여녀자, 동려간친척, 이처자자야.

All were from rich households and large families, and together with the women were relatives and maidens from the same village.

性俱溫和, 風韻不常, 而又聰明識字, 能爲詩賦, 皆作七言短篇四首以贐…
성구온화, 풍운불상, 이우총명식자, 능위시부, 개작칠어두편사수이진…

Their character were all genial and appreciation of poetry were out of the ordinary. Moreover, they were intelligent and well read and can pursue poetry. They all composed heptasyllabic short poems in four stanzas as presents…

吳氏, 丫鬟妖弱, 不勝情態, 繼吟曰:
오씨, 곤환요약, 불승정태, 단음왈:

Oh, with parted and braided hair, thin and weak, did not prevail over flattering attitude, and connecting the composition of the poem [with that above], wrote:

寺裏燒香歸去來 金錢暗擲竟誰媒
사리소향귀거래 금전암척경수매
春花秋月無窮恨 銷却樽前酒一盃
춘화추월무궁한 소각존전주일배

Within the temple, the burning perfume returns, departing and coming.
The golden coin calmly throws the sticks and in the end who will intervene?
The Spring flowers and Autumn moon have boundless resentment.
Before the abandoned wine cask, there is one cup of wine.

漙漙曉露浥桃腮 幽谷春深蝶不來
전전효상음조새 유곡춘심접불래
却喜隣家銅鏡合 更歌新曲酌金疊
각희련가동경합 갱가신곡주금첩

The boggy and miry morning dew wets the peach tree’s cheeks.
In the dark valley, even though Spring has come deep, the butterflies do not come.
I am joyous: at the neighboring house, the copper and mirror has been combined.
Again singing a new tune, the chalice and gold has been wrapped over.

年年燕子舞東風 腸斷春心事已空
년년연자무동풍 장단춘심사이공
羨却芙蕖猶竝蔕 夜深同浴一池中
선각부거유병체 야심동곡일지중

Year after year, the swallow dances in the eastern wind.
Intestines having cut the Spring heart, endeavors have already become empty.
I am envious: the bouillon flowers still stand side by side on their roots.
When the night grows deep, they shower together in the one pond.

一層樓在碧山中 連理枝頭花正紅
일층루재벽산중 련리주두화정홍
却恨人生不如樹 靑年薄命淚凝瞳
각한인생불여수 청년박명루잉동

A one story tower exists within the blue mountains.
At the head of the intertwined branches, the flowers every new year turns red.
I am resentful: the life of man is not like that of the trees.
Youthful years are a short life; the tear drops collects on the eye pupil.

Notes:

  • “Does not serve two kings” (不事二君, 불사이군) is a well known four character Hanja idiom and is a reference to Biography of Tian Dan (田單列傳, 전단열전, Jeon Dan Yeoljeon) in the Records of the Grand Historian (史記, 사기, Sagi). This line also appears in the Minor Learning (小學, 소학):

王蠋曰: “忠臣不事二君, 貞女不更二夫”
왕촉왈: “충신불사이군, 정녀불경이부”

Wang Zhu (王蠋, 왕촉, Wang Chok) said, “A loyal servant does not serve two kings; a chaste wife does not change [and have] two husbands.”

  • The remnants of the Temple of Ten-Thousand Fortunes, or Manboksa (萬福寺, 만복사), are located in Namweon (南原, 남원) North Jeolla Province (全羅北道, 전라북도). The temple was built during the Goryeo dynasty. It was destroyed during the Japanese invasions in 1597.
  • “Intertwined branches” (連理枝, 연리지) is a reference to Bai Juyi’s (白居易, 백거이, Baek Geoi, 772-846) Song of Everlasting Regret (長恨歌, 장한가). The alluded reference is below:

在天願作比翼鳥 재천원작비익조
在地願爲連理枝 재지원위련리지

In the heavens, we vow to be as two birds flying wingtip to wingtip,
On earth, we vow to be as two intertwined branches of a tree.

Translation from Wikisource

Characters:

  • 摴(저) – To gamble (賭博, 도박).
  • 樗(저) – Ailanthus tree (가죽나무).
  • 蒲(포) – Cattail (부들).
  • 筵(연) – Chair or seat (座席, 자석).
  • 跪(궤) – To kneel and bow.
  • 閭(려) – Village (마을).
  • 閈(한) – Village (마을).
  • 贐(진) – To recompense (갚다).
  • 却(각) – Here, a grammatical particle (發語辭, 발어사).
  • 漙漙(전전) – Dewy.
  • 疊(첩) – To wrap around (겹쳐지다).
  • 羨(선) – To be envious (부러워하다).
  • 蔕(체) – Flower base (꽃받침).

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