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Seeking Order in a Tumultuous AgeThe Writings of Chong Tojon, a Korean Neo-Confucian$

Chong Tojon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824859442

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824859442.001.0001

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Editorial Principles [by the Secretariat of Kyujanggak Library]

Editorial Principles [by the Secretariat of Kyujanggak Library]

(p.39) Editorial Principles [by the Secretariat of Kyujanggak Library]
Seeking Order in a Tumultuous Age
David M. Robinson

Chŏng Tojŏn

University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract and Keywords

Item: This collection was first published in the thirtieth year of the Hongwu reign (1397).1 It was republished in the twenty-third year of the Chenghua 成化‎ reign (1487). The master’s great-grandson, Governor Chŏng Munhyŏng 鄭文炯‎ (1427–1501), wrote a postscript that read, “Formerly there were woodblocks, but they were scattered and incomplete.” It was already thus during Munhyŏng’s time;...

Item: This collection was first published in the thirtieth year of the Hongwu reign (1397).1 It was republished in the twenty-third year of the Chenghua 成化‎ reign (1487). The master’s great-grandson, Governor Chŏng Munhyŏng 鄭文炯‎ (1427–1501), wrote a postscript that read, “Formerly there were woodblocks, but they were scattered and incomplete.” It was already thus during Munhyŏng’s time;2 now, several hundred years later, they of course have not survived. In the fifteenth year of the Chŏngjo 正祖‎ reign (1791), the throne ordered that the Secretariat [of the Kyujanggak Library] purchase the master’s remaining works and publish them.3 The manuscripts were incomplete and nearly illegible. After examining their [i.e., the previous editions’] editorial principles, the poems were categorized into “Miscellaneous Odes,” “Miscellaneous Odes of Kŭmnam,” and “Record of an Envoy.” The prose [pieces] were entitled “Miscellaneous Topics” and “Miscellaneous Topics of Kŭmnam.” However, many were out of order, and the categories [too] were unclear. Thus, we have established separate titles.

Poems are organized into five- and seven-character poems. Prose pieces have been categorized according to such headings as memorials, salutations, and discourses. Each has been put into the proper category and arranged by date so that there is no confusion. Those that could not be confirmed have been omitted. The headings of the original editions cannot be completely eliminated. Thus beneath the title of each poem or prose piece is written under which heading and in which section [they originally appeared] in order to preserve the original appearance [of the book]. From Literary Mirror to Order the World on, each is a complete work, and thus it is not possible to move a single word. Only those sections that appear twice (for instance “Discourse on the Buddha Begging (p.40) Food” is included again in the section on miscellaneous titles) have been corrected.

Item: Beneath the title of each poem is a brief preface. Some Chŏng Tojŏn himself wrote; some later authors added. Those by Chŏng are written in large characters in a separate indented line. Those by later writers are in explanatory notes beneath the title.

Item: The original imprint of the poetry anthology was carefully selected by Sŏng Sŏngnin 成石璘‎ (1338–1423) and the punctuation was by Kwŏn Kŭn 權近‎ (1352–1409).4 The second imprint was a combined volume with materials added by Chŏng Munhyŏng but without punctuation. This edition, too, uses the punctuation of the original imprint. In the case of those carefully selected items without punctuation, they are marked in the heading of each one. Throughout we have selected a few of the annotations by later authors, but we have not recorded them all.

Item: The manuscript copy of the Secretariat is the complete book. However, such pieces as the “Inscription on the Style Name of Ha Hobu” and “Methods of Military Formations” were missing from the manuscript copy. They were secured from later descendents and have been categorized and included. Other poems and prose works scattered in other books have been collected into a few chapters and kept separate as “Reclaimed Works.” They are appended after such pieces as “Methods of Military Formations.” Such works as “An Account of a Pure Land Monastery,” “Postscripts to Royal Edicts of Encouragement,” “Stele Inscription for the Restoration of Chŏkkyŏng Garden,” and “A Guide for Scholars in Chart Form” survive only as titles; their texts are no longer extant. They are enumerated at the end of the chapter and the word “missing” is also written [there]. The literary collections of the ancients had this convention, and thus we follow it now.

Item: In the manuscript copy, some sections are missing and some passages contain mistakes. The imprint edition is also woefully incomplete. [These missing sections] have been extremely difficult to verify. Those that we were able to verify have been added. The unverifiable ones follow the old editions, with a number of blank spaces left [to indicate the missing sections]. (They appear in several places in the Compendium for Governing the Dynasty [Kyŏngguk chon 經國典‎] but were not added to the missing sections in the original blocks.) Those that are unquestionably errors have been corrected. In cases of variant words or phrases, we have (p.41) written which edition used which words. In the case of taboo words that appear in the collection (such as where the character yuan 元‎ in the personal name of the Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang is replaced with another character for yuan 原‎), we have left them unchanged.5

Item: In the poetry and prose of previous editions, regardless of whether it was the previous or present dynasty, all honorifics have been followed by a new line.6 When the line contains less than two or three words or if such a break disrupts the passage, then in the case of matters related to the previous dynasty, they will be written consecutively [i.e., a new line will not be begun]. For those related to the present dynasty, all will be separated by one space.

Item: For events and people in the poems and prose that should be verified, a brief annotation is provided. They are distinguished by the word “note” 按‎.

Item: The facts of the master’s life are recorded in his biography in the Official History of the Koryŏ Dynasty, but [the biography] is extremely cursory. Further, it does not extend to the present dynasty. Thus, we have examined various historical accounts and listed his affairs according to year. [The list] is included in the appendix. At the end of each section, we have listed our sources. [The master] is mentioned in a large number of unofficial accounts and miscellanies. We have not included critical comments.

Item: Writings of earlier and later royal edicts that are recorded in historical accounts and collections have all been included and arranged by order into sections. Apropos of prefaces written by distinguished figures, some appear at the beginning of chapters while others are appended at the end of each section. Further, all poetry and prose related to the master, whether from the Central dynasty 中朝‎ or our Eastern [dynasty], has been compiled in a separate record and given headings that describe the circumstances.7 They are all included at the end of chapters.

Item: There were a total of eight chapters in the manuscript edition, but they were not of uniform length. Thus, we have separated the chapters on poetry from the chapters on Literary Mirror to Order the World and the Compendium for Governing the Dynasty onward, which are divided into parts 1 and 2. Together with gathered remnants and appended items, there are in total fourteen chapters. They are detailed in the table of contents.

(p.42) Item: The sacrificial prayers written by Sŏng Wŏngyu 成原揆‎, director of the Security Council 知密直事‎, and Hong Chungwŏn 洪仲原‎, minister of punishments 典法判書‎, for Minister Chŏng Ungyŏng 鄭云敬‎ (Chŏng Tojŏn) contained in the collection should have been removed but have provisionally been appended at the end.


(1.) The Hongwu 洪武‎ and Chenghua 成化‎ reigns referred to periods when the Hongwu Emperor (r. 1368–1398) and the Chenghua Emperor (r. 1464–1487) of the Ming dynasty were in power. During the Ming (1368–1644), Korean writers in both their official and private capacities often used the Ming dynastic calendar to mark time.

(2.) Chŏng Tojŏn’s great grandson, Chŏng Munhyŏng, passed the special civil examination (mun’gwa pyŏlsi 文科別試‎) in 1447. He went on to have a fifty-year career in government that concluded with the position of first minister of the Office of Ministers-without-Portfolio (chungch’ubu yŏngsa 中樞府領事‎). See Yŏnsan’gun ilgi, 40.3a 燕山君七年正月甲子‎.

(3.) Established in 1776, the Kyujanggak 奎章閣‎ was the Royal Library of the Chosŏn dynasty and was located on the grounds of the Ch’angdŏk Palace 昌德宮‎ in Seoul. Its collection is now maintained by Seoul National University.

(4.) The editors use Sŏng’s literary name, Tokkok 獨谷‎. He was a scholar and (p.192) official who served for decades at the late Koryŏ and early Chosŏn courts. For Kwŏn Kŭn, see the preface to this translation.

(5.) In 1391 the use of the character yuan 元‎ (K. wŏn) was prohibited because it appeared in the Ming emperor’s personal name, Zhu Yuanzhang. See Koryŏsa chŏryo, 35.6b, 885 恭讓王三年四月‎. This name taboo was one of many ways ritual deference was shown to the Ming ruler.

(6.) Regardless of its position in a sentence, the name of someone especially deserving of respect, most particularly the ruler of the reigning dynasty, was placed at the top of a line so that nothing was above it. The result could be a series of lines of no more than a few characters.

(7.) Central dynasty here indicates the dynasty ruling China.