100 Great Books of Korea

Notes by Richard Rutt
Transcribed and introduced by Brother Anthony

In 1970 the Hyeon Am Publishing Company in Seoul published a 1,348-page volume, 韓國의 名著 (한국의 명저) Great Books of Korea, containing information on, some photographs of, and Hangeul translations of extracts from one hundred celebrated older Korean texts. At the end of the book was a brief description written by Richard Rutt in English of each of the works covered, with a romanized transcription and the author’s name, and with minimal publishing information. Since this book is almost impossible to find, it has seemed worthwhile to reproduce Rutt’s text in Transactions, if only to remind readers of how many major works were written in Korea in times past, the originals of which very few of us (even Koreans) are now able to read and almost none of which have been translated into English.

    Richard Rutt (1925-2011) was an Anglican priest who arrived in Korea in 1954. A scholar by temperament, he grew to love Korea’s traditional literary culture, mostly written in Classical Chinese using Chinese characters. He served for a time as Anglican Bishop of Daejeon before resigning and returning to England in 1973/4, where he served as Bishop of Leicester. Long active in the RASKB, he was its President at the time of his departure from Korea. He published many books, including his classic A History of Hand Knitting in 1987 and a remarkable new translation of the Chinese I Ching in 2002: Zhouyi: A New Translation with Commentary of the Book of Changes. But perhaps his finest achievement was his edition of James Gale’s History of the Korean People (RASKB, 1972) which includes a deeply researched biography of Gale. He shared Gale’s love of Sino-Korean poetic texts and he published a collection of translated sijo in 1971: The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo. This was one of the earliest volumes of English translations of Korean poetry to be published in North America.

Great Books of Korea: Preface by Richard Rutt

This book contains introductions to 100 of the most significant books written and published in Korea since the 7th century. Each has been treated by a different Korean scholar, who is an authority in the field about which he writes.
    The majority of the books were written in Chinese, and are thus not easy for modern Koreans to read. The account of each title gives a résumé of the author’s life and his importance in the development of Korean thought and culture, together with an account of the contents of the book and its place in Korean history. Full bibliographical details of the original editions and also of the critical writings on each famous book are given together with a brief account of the career of the scholar who has written about it.
    The books chosen cover a wide range, from buddhist religion to astronomy and geography on the one hand and music and poetry on the other. The most important works of the twentieth century have also been given a place. A brief note in English is given for each of the titles dealt with.
    The whole work gives a concise account of Korean writings over 13 centuries, with enough quotations and translations to allow the original authors to speak for themselves, and enough critical comment to show the historical lines along which Korean thinking has developed. To the beginner in Korean studies it is a useful compendium, and for Korean students it is an epitome of right national pride in the achievements of the nation.
    The illustrations show the appearance of the books in their original editions, and the traditional portraits of the authors. The whole work has been designed to give authentic and reliable information.

1969. 7. 20

Richard Rutt

Taesŭng kisin nonso 大乘起信論疏 Wŏnhyo 元曉 (617-686) Date of publication unknown.
The great monk of Silla, Wŏnhyo wrote the Taesŭng kisin nonso as an introduction to Mahayana Buddhism according to his own personal interpretation. It was intended for use as a·textbook in the second of four courses of instruction on Mahayana doctrine, and aims at inculcating right belief. Wŏnhyo emphasizes that the Three Treasures (Triratna: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) must be seen from a singleminded standpoint.

Kŭmgang sammae kyŏngnon 金剛三昧經論 Wŏnhyo 元曉 Date of publication unknown.
A three volume work on Mahayana doctrine in the form of a commentary on the Vajrasamadhi sutra by the Silla monk Wŏnhyo, It expounds the core of his doctrine, which is well illustrated by the anecdote of how on his way to T’ang China he spent a night in a cave and drank water from what he supposed to be a bowl, but in the morning discovered to be a skull. From the comparison between his gratitude for the drink at night and his revulsion from the skull in the morning he learned the subjective nature of purity and corruption, good and evil.

Wango ch’ŏnch’uk kukchŏn 往五天竺國傳 Hyejo 慧超 (704-787) Written about 727.
This “Account of Visits to the Five Lands of India” was written by the monk Hyejo after his ten years of journeyings as a scholar pilgrim to India and its adjacent countries, and T’ang China. It was rediscovered in 1908 by the French orientalist Paul Pelliot in the caves of Tun-huang in Kan-su province, China. The two volumes he discovered are now kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. They are invaluable sources of information for historians.

Kyewŏn p’ilgyŏngjip 桂苑 筆耕集 Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn 崔致遠 (857-?).
“Pen Ploughings in the Gardens of Cinnamon” is the collected works of Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn, the poet, writer and scholar of Silla whose fame reached even the T’ang court. He is the first great Korean scholar of Chinese. His style lacks robustness, but his stature derives from his delicacy and the beauty of his work. This collection was also published in China.

Ch’ŏnt’ae sa kyoŭi 天台四敎儀 Chegwan 諦觀 Written about 970.
An account of the four modes of teaching of the T’ien-t’ai sect of buddhism, written in the Koryŏ period by the able monk Chegwan. It sets out in simple language the division cf Buddha’s teaching into five periods and eight kinds, which are the distinctive classification of the T’ien-tai school. It was a widely studied summa of buddhist thought, popular in Japan as well as in Korea.

Taegak kuksa mun jip 大覺國師文集 Uich’ŏn 義天 (1055-1101) Date of pub1ication unknown.
The collected works of Taegak, the son of King Munjong of Koryŏ, who became a buddhist prelate. Woodblocks of this work dating from Koryŏ times are preserved at Haein-sa in South Kyŏngsang. There are 20 volumes in the main text with 13 appendix volumes. In his attempt to return to Sakyamuni’s authentic doctrine, Uich’ŏn was much influenced by the works of Wŏnhyo. He wished to reject all the mutually opposing and negative elements in the doctrines of the sects and regain a unified buddhist thought, but recognized the absolute value inherent in many of their positive teachings. He held to the T’ien-t’ai point of view.

Samguk Sagi 三國史記 Kim Pusik 金富軾 (1075-1151) Published 1145.
The sole ancient literary source for the history of the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla. It was edited in the reign of King Injong of Koryŏ by Kim Pusik and others, using records of earlier times and Chinese sources. It is regarded as heavily coloured by Kim’s confucian point of view, but is nonetheless a prime historical source for the period.

Susim kyŏl 修心訣 Chinul 知訥 (1158-1210) Written about 1200.
A book of buddhist spirituality written by the Koryŏ monk Chinul, also known as Moguja. In 1467 it was translated into Korean by Sinmi (also known as Hyegak-chonja), and in 1500 published at Pongsŏ-sa in South Kyŏngnam. It has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and other foreign languages and is much read outside Korea. It teaches that man is essentially buddha and therefore has no need of much study, but needs only to discover what is in his own heart. Buddhahood is discovered in a man rather than attained by him. Because men lack a clear standard for living, each man seeks his own opinion and thus peace is unattainable. The human tragedy springs from our lack of mutual trust and mutual knowledge. Respect for humanity is the sole remedy for the situation. The whole book is a treatise on buddhist asceticism.

Haedong kosŏng chŏn 海東高僧傳 Kakhun 覺訓 Published 1215.
The earliest buddhist biographies from Korea, written by the monk Kakhun at the order of the king in 1215. It contains the lives of Sundo, Mangmyŏng, Pŏpkong, Pŏbun, Kaktŏk, Wŏn’gwang, and other eminent monks. It is an important source of information on the early tradition of buddhism from India and China and its establishment in Korea.

P’ahan chip 破閑集 Yi Illo 李仁老 (1152-1220) Published 1260.
A collection of stories by Yi Illo collated and published by his son Yi Sehwang in 1260. The stories and poems include gleanings from the works of forgotten poets as well as original compositions. The accounts of life in Kyŏngju, sites in P’yŏngyang and palaces and temples in Kaesŏng and the like, make it an important source of material for the study of the Koryŏ dynasty.

Tongguk Yi Sangguk chip 東國李相國集 Yi Kyubo 李奎報 (1168-1241) Published 1241.
The collected works of the Koryŏ scholar Yi Kyubo, edited and published by his son Yi Ham in 1241. During the militaristic regime of Koryŏ, unlike most literary characters, Yi Kyubo had a successful political career. He is regarded as the outstanding man of a time when the forms of Chinese literature were used to express the peculiar point of view of Koreans.

Samguk yusa 三國遺事 Iryon 一然 (1206-1289) Republished 1512.
This book was composed by the Koryŏ period buddhist prelate Iryŏn, also known as Pogak. The original edition no longer exists, and was indeed already very scarce at the time of the re-edition of 1512. The contents of the book are reliques of the three kingdoms of Koguryŏ, Paekche and Silla, but there are records also of more primitive eras (Tan’gun Chosŏn, Wiman Chosŏn, and the Samhan). Some materials missing from the Samguk sagi are included. Legends, inscriptions, myths, place-name origins, family names, religious elements. and materials quoted from contemporary works give the book a unique value. The 14 examples of early Korean poems known as hyangga are known only through the Samguk yusa.

Nagong pisŏl [sic: Yŏgong p’aesŏl] 櫟翁稗說 Yi Chehyŏn 李齊賢 (1287-1367) Written 1342. Published 1693
Essays of the much troubled Koryŏ statesman and diplomat writer Yi Chehyŏn, containing many reflections on men and books, many poems and art criticisms which are not to be found in other sources. The collection of Yi’s own poems and the inscription he composed for the grave of Mogŭn (Yi Saek) make this one of the great books of Korean literature.

P’oŭn chip 圃隱集 Chŏng Mongju 鄭夢周 (1337-1392) Published 1439.
The collected writings and poems of Chŏng Mongju, a philosopher and statesman of the end of the Koryŏ period. His son Chŏng Chongsŏng collected the materials from scattered sources and published them in 1439. The poems arc vividly descriptive and the memorials to the throne are irradiated by political honesty. When the dynasty fell he resisted all temptations and remained steadfast in his loyalty to the old house, so that he has become a legendary symbol of loyalty for all Koreans. But the value of his writings is independent of his deeds: they remain an essential record of the life and history of the period.

Mogŭn chip 牧隱集 Yi Saek 李穡 (1328-1396) Date of publication unknown.
The collected works of a notable philosopher of late Koryŏ, Yi Saek. The poems were edited from the manuscripts by his son, Yi Kyejŏn, in 6 volumes, to which his grandson Yi Tŏksu added the remaining material. His political career ended in the failure of the dynasty, but as a writer and educator he left his mark on a host of disciples. However, it was a period when buddhism and confucianism were in continual tension, and his works show signs of a synthesis between the two which was not popular in later times. Therefore his works were neglected and there are now problematic points in their study.

Chosŏn wangjo sillok 朝鮮王朝實錄 Compiled by the Royal Archives Commission [춘추관] 春秋館 (1413-1865).
The compendious and bulky annals of the Yi dynasty, compiled daily, monthly and yearly, from the beginning of the dynasty in 1392 until the reign of Ch’ŏlchong (1863). This is the basic quarry for all information about Korea in the Yi period, from historic events to customs and conditions. Its chief defect is its concentration on events and life within the palace and royal household.

Hyangyak chipsŏngbang 鄕藥集成方 Edited by Yu Hyot’ong and others 兪孝通 等 Published 1433.
A compendium of Korean medical knowledge in the fifteenth century. It was compiled by Yu Hyot’ong, No Chungnye, Pak Yundŏk and others between the autumn of 1431 and the summer of 1433. It contains descriptions of diseases and remedies, acupuncture techniques, and herbal medicines. It records the development of folk medicine in the period immediately after Koryŏ. It represents an amalgamation of the native Korean tradition with Chinese medicine and a significant point in the development of Korean medical practice.

Nongsa chiksŏl 農事直說 Chŏng Cho 鄭招 (?-1434) Published 1429.
The earliest extant Korean treatise on agriculture. It was written in 1429 at the command of King Sejong, as part of his agrarian policy. The materials were gathered by inspectors in all the provinces of the country. The section on dry-field rice growing still merits attention today.

Uibang yuch’wi 醫方類聚 Edited by royal command. 世宗命 Completed in 1445.
A medical treatise compiled at the order of King Sejong by Kim Yemong, Yu Sŏngwŏn, and others and supervised by Prince Anp’yŏng, Yi Sach’ŏl, and others. The material was drawn from earlier Chinese texts, and reflects Sejong’s benevolent government policies. It is an important document for the study of historiographical methodology.

Hunmin chŏngŭm 訓民正音 King Sejong 世宗大王 (1397-1450) Compiled 1446.
The document explaining the native Korean alphabet, promulgated in 1446. The sole existing copy of this book is reckoned a national treasure. The book contains an account of the phonetic principle of the alphabet, based on the use of the speech organs, and the forms and method of use of the 28 letters. It is an indispensable part of the Korean language’s heritage. It bases the development of the language and its literature on the needs of the common people.

Tongguk chŏngun 東國正韻 Edited by royal command 世宗大王命撰 Completed 1447, published 1448.
A dictionary of Chinese characters arranged according to their rhymes, compiled by Sin Sukchu, Sŏng Sammun and others at the request of King Sejong. The pronunciation of Chinese characters in Korea had come to differ from that in use in China. A new standard for the pronunciation of Chinese characters in Korea was created in this work by reference to Hung-wu’s phonetic works and other Chinese authorities. The project was closely connected with the invention of the new Korean alphabet. It was based on a scientific analysis of sounds and is now our sole source of information concerning the pronunciation of Chinese characters in mediaeval Korea.

Wŏrin ch’ŏn’gang chi kok 月印千江之曲 King Sejong 世宗大王 Published 1449.
After Sejong had seen the Sŏkpo sangjŏl, written by Prince Suyang (later King Sejo), in 1447 he composed this paean in praise of Sakyamuni. It was published in three volumes in 1449. It tells of the enlightening acts of Buddha in a song called Wŏrin ch’ŏn’gang. It was the second book to be written in the newly invented alphabet, the first having been The Yongbiŏch’ŏn ka. It is of prime importance as an example of Korean language and script.

Tongguk pyŏnggam 東國兵鑑 Compiled by order of King Munjong 文宗(1019-1083)命撰 Edited in 1450, date of publication unknown.
A military history of Korea. It recounts the battles with continental forces from the time of Wu-ti of Han until the end of Koryŏ. More than 30 wars, including the wars with the Jurchen, are described in chronological order.

Chinbŏp 陣法 King Sejo 世祖王 (1417-1468) Written in 1453.
A military treatise written for King Munjong at his request by Prince Suyang (later King Sejo). It was printed in small type in 1455 and again in larger type in 1459. In 1492 the two volumes were combined in one under the present title. It is a treatise on strategy and tactics.

Pyŏnghak t’ong 兵學通 King Chongjo 正宗王 (1752-1800) Published 1776.
A military treatise composed by the scholarly King Chongjo, with the help of Chang Chihang, Sŏ Myŏngsŏn, and others. Among the many questions with which it deals are deployment of troops, night operations, sieges, and sea warfare.

Pyŏngjang sŏl 兵將說 King Sejo 世祖王 Date of publication unknown.
A military treatise by King Sejo annotated by Sin Sukchu, Chŏng Inji, Kang Hŭimaeng and others. It is systematically arranged and easy to refer to.

Chesŭng pangnyak 制勝方略 Kim Chongsŏ 金宗瑞 (l390-1453) Date of publication unknown
An account of the defence of the eight commanderies of Hamgyŏng Province. It was written by the distinguished commander Kim Chongsŏ, of the beginning of the Yi dynasty, and augmented in 1670 by Yi Il. Yi Sŏn published it in 1670. It describes the topography and system of defences of the commanderies.

Koryŏ sa 高麗史 Chŏng Inji 鄭麟趾 (1396-1478), Kim Chongsŏ 金宗瑞 (1390-1453) and others. Published 1451.
The official history of the Koryŏ dynasty, covering the whole of the period 918 to 1392. The collation and editing of the Koryŏ annnals was committed by the first king of the Yi dynasty to Chŏng Tojŏn and others, but the result was not satisfactory, so another attempt was made under King T’aejong (1367-1423). The work was not completed until the reign of Sejong when it was completed by Chŏng Inji and others in 1451, and publication undertaken in 1454. The form of the book is the traditional division into annals, monographs, chronological tables, and biographies of outstanding personalities. Its value is less in the organization of the material than in its preservation of authentic records of the Koryŏ period.

Wŏrin Sŏkpo 月印釋譜 King Sejo 世祖王 Published 1459.
A conflation of the Wŏrin ch’ŏn’gang chi kok and the Sŏkpo sangjŏl published by Sejo in 1459. The former stands as the basic text with the appropriate parts of the latter appended as annotations. It was the first annotated buddhist book published in the new alphabet and is of cardinal importance for the history of the Korean language.

Kyŏngguk taejŏn 經國大典 Ch’oe Hang 崔恆 (1409-1474) and others. Completed 1469.
The basic code of laws of the Yi dynasty, compiled by Ch’oe Hang, No Sasin, and others at the order of King Sejon 1460. The Revenue Code was finished in 1460, the Criminal Code in 1461, and the remaining four parts (Civil Code, Military Code, Ritual Code, and Code of Public Works) by 1469. By 1485 the whole had been revised and emended. Although it took nearly thirty years to complete, it remained the standard law of the whole dynasty and is a basic text for the study of the period. It describes the administrative system, the public examination system, the army, regulations for marriage and burials, punishments, slavery, and civil engineering, as well as the laws relating to property and persons.

Yongbi ŏch’ŏn ka 龍飛御天歌 Kwŏn Choe and others 權踶 等撰 Compiled 1445.
An encomium of the six immediate ancestors of the the founder of the Yi dynasty, written by Kwŏn Choe, Chŏng Inji, and others at the command of King Sejong. It was used at court celebrations. Although written in verse form, it is a rough metre, owing nothing to tradition, but it is important as a source for fifteenth century language studies.

Tongmun sŏn 東文選 Sŏ Kŏjŏng 徐居正 (1420-1488) and others. Edited 1478.
An anthology of Korean verse in Chinese from Silla times to the reign of Sukchong (18th century). First compiled by Sŏ Kŏjŏng at the king’s command, it was extended in the reign of Chungjong and re-edited in the time of Sukchong. It is the basic collection of Korean poetry written in Chinese characters.

Maewŏl-dang chip 梅月堂集 Kim Sisŭp 金時習 (1435-1493) Published 1602.
The collected works of Kim Sisŭp, who was a skillful writer from his youth, but in disgust at the usurpation of the throne by Sejo and the murder of the boy-king Tanjong left the world and lived as a wanderer and cynical observer of society. His rigid ideals of loyalty and his cynicism show through in his writings.

Sinjŭng Tongguk yŏji sŭngnam 新增東國輿地勝覧 Compiled by order of King Chungjong 中宗命撰 Edited 1481, published 1531.
A geography of Korea, describing the topography and way of life of each province. The original work was called Tongguk yŏji sŭngnam but the present work is the enlarged edition of 1531. It is a gazetteer of 15th century Korea and a rare book of historical geography.

Akhak kwebŏm 樂學軌範 Sŏng Hyŏn 成俔 (1439~1504) and others. Edited 1493.
A treatise on music compiled at the order of King Sŏngjong in 1493. It describes and classfies instruments and kinds of music, the principles of music, dress of musicians, sacrificial, ritual and court music, including dancing and singing. Several songs in Korean script are included, and the book is invaluable both for the study of the history of music and for the study of Korean language and literature.

Yongjae ch’onghwa 慵齋叢話 Sŏng Hyŏn 成俔 Written about 1500.
The collected essays of Yongjae (Sŏng Hyŏn). It ranks among the finest of the belles lettres of the Yi period, containing essays on books, painting, poetry, personalities and many other subjects. It was written in an age of peace and prosperity and reflects happy times.

Sasŏng t’onghae 四聲通解 Ch’oe Sejin 崔世珍 (1473-1542) Published 1517.
A Chinese language book giving the ancient, contemporary, correct and colloquial pronunciations of Chinese characters, written in Korean script. It is in effect a dictionary. Together with the same author’s Hunmong chahoe it is a basic text for the study of the history of the Korean language.

Hunmong chahoe 訓蒙 字會 Ch’oe Sejin 崔世珍 Written in 1527.
A primer of Chinese characters, written with the intention of providing a textbook less remote from daily life than the traditional classic texts had become. The vocabulary treats very largely of domestic and everyday material. It is of prime importance for the historical study of Korean.

Hwadam chip 花潭集 Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk 徐敬德 (1489-1546) Published 1605.
The collected writings of Sŏ Kyŏngdŏk, a philosopher of the time of king Chungjong. Chiefly conerned with the philosophy of nature, it represents a synthesis of mechanistic and teleological theory.

T’oegye munjip 退溪文集 Yi Hwang 李滉 (1501-1570) Published 1599.
The collection, in 59 volumes, of the writings and poems of the great Yi philosopher, Yi T’oegye, or Yi Hwang. His philosophy begins with the finding of truth in all the objects of daily life and extends into a practical moral philosophy of effort in the quest for authenticity. Much of it is the fruit of his fourteen years of philosophical controversy. His influence on Korean thought has been unparalleled in its impact.

Sinjŭng Yuhap 新增類合 Yu Hŭich’un 柳希春 (1513-1577) Compiled 1576.
A textbook of Chinese characters, designed as supplementary text for youngsters in the reign of Chungjong (1488-1544). The name of the author of the original yuhap is not known with certainty. It was widely used but had many defects. These were made good in the emended and expanded edition edited by Yu Hŭich’un, under the title of Sinjŭng Yuhap. An important source for the history of Korean.

Chŏng Kamnok 鄭鑑錄 Author unknown 著者未詳 Date unknown.
A book of prophecies which became current in the middle part of the Yi period. It was surreptitiously passed on, because it contains much material connected with superstitions, folk-beliefs and mystical prophecies which could be interpreted as seditious. It suggests that after some hundreds of years of the Yi dynasty, there would be a Chŏng dynasty founded at Kyeryŏng-san (near Taejŏn), followed after some centuries by a Cho dynasty centred on Kaya-san, a Pŏm dynasty near Chŏnju, and so on for several others. These prophecies are mingled with prophesies of natural and social disasters. After the times of Kwanghae-gun and Injo nearly all revolutionary movements took some colouring from the hopes of the Chŏng dynasty at Kyeryŏng-san.

T’ojŏng pigyŏl 土亭祕訣 Yi Chiham 李之菡 (1517-1578) Date of publication unknown.
A fortune-telling book for discovering the events of any given year on the basis of the time and date of a person’s birth, written by Yi Chiham, whose pen-name was T’ojiing. It represents the efforts of the polymath T’ ojong to collate the tradition of such books as were extant in the earlier part of the dynasty. He made much use of Chinese sources. The book was not widely distributed until late in the dynasty, and is worthless from a literary point of view, but of considerable interest in the study of Korean popular thought.

Yulgok chŏnsŏ 栗谷 全書 Yi I 李耳 (1536-1584) Published 1744.
The collected writings of the great mid-dynasty confucian scholar Yi I, whose pen-name was Yulgok. His writings had been collated under various categories (poems, essays, etc) but were collected together and printed with type by Yi Chae in 1744. It is a work of first importance not only for the study of Korean confucianism, but also of Yi dynasty politics, thought and society.

Nansŏrhŏn chip 籣雪軒集  Hŏ Nansŏrhŏn 許籣雪軒 (1563-1589) Published 1608.
The collected poems of Hŏ Nansŏrhŏn, the wife of Kim Sŏngnip, collated by her elder brother, Hŏ Kyun, It contains poems in various styles, and a preface by the one-time envoy to Ming China, Yang Yunyŏn. It is the earliest example of the work of a poetess in Korea, and therefore of special interest.

Songgang kasa 松江歌辭 Chŏng Ch’ŏl 鄭澈 (1536-1593) Published 1747.
A collection of Korean language poems in sijo and kasa form, written by Chŏng Ch’ŏl (pen-name Songgang), the statesman and politician of the reign of Sŏnjo. He is unequalled in his ability to exploit the resources of the Korean language, and his work is the earliest preserved collection of Korean language poems by a single author. He still ranks as the outstanding poet of the nation, dwarfing almost all that came after him.

Nanjung ilgi 亂中日記 Yi Sunsin 李舜臣 (1545-1598) Written 1592-1598.
The war diaries of Admiral Yi Sunsin (posthumously honoured with the name Ch’ungmu Kong) who from 1592 to 1598 was chiefly responsible for the success of the Koreans in repelling the invading forces of the Japanese. He invented a form of armoured warship, known as the “turtle-boat”, and revolutionised sea warfare through his new techniques. He is perhaps the greatest of all Korean national heroes. His written style leaves nothing to be desired. The Nanjung ilgi is equally important for history and for literature.

Imjin rok 壬辰錄 Author unknown 作者 未詳 Written about 1600.
The author and date of this fanciful novel about the Japanese invasions of the sixteenth century are unknown, but it can hardly have been written very long after the events it describes. It displays an ardent desire for revenge on the Japanese, and is remarkable among old Korean novels in that it is based on historical events. It occupies an important place in the Korean folk-tradition.

Sŏn’ga kwigam 禪家龜鑑 Hyujŏng 休靜 (1520-1604) Published 1564.
An introduction to buddhism, written by the monk Sosan, also known as Hyujŏng. It was republished in 1610 and is still widely used.

Chingbi rok 懲毖錄 Yu Songnyŏng 柳成龍 (1542-1607) Published 1633.
An account of the Imjin wars, written by a prime minister during the years of his retirement, describing the events of the years 1592 to 1558. It deals with the causes and course of the wars. Some of the author’s own documents relating to the subject are appended. It is widely read, particularly as a primary source for the history of the times.

Yanggŭm sinbo 梁琴新譜 Yang Tŏksu 梁德壽 Published 1610.
Musical scores for the Korean stringed instrument called kŏmun’go. It describes the tuning and playing of the instrument, using an original form of notation. It is an essential work of reference for traditional Korean music.

Tongŭi pogam 東醫寶鑑 Hŏ Chun 許浚 (?-1615) Published 1613.
The most important medical compendium of the Yi period, combining Chinese and Korean medical writings. It was written by the physician Hŏ Chun at the comnand of King Sŏnjo. begun in 1597 and completed in 1611, although not published until two years later. It describes all manner of sicknesses and diseases and their healing, including pediatrics, gynecology, acupuncture, medicine, and surgery. It was introduced into China and Japan.

Samyŏng-dang taesa chip 四溟堂大師集 Yujŏng 惟政 (1544-1610) Published 1612.
A collection of poems by the monk Yujŏng, also known as Songun and Samyŏng-dang, collated and published by his disciples in 1612. It tells of how the author became a soldier-monk during the Japanese invasions, and is important not only for its immediate historical content but also for the light it throws on Korean buddhist thought.

Pibyŏnsa tŭngnok 備邊司謄錄 Edited by the Pibyonsa 備邊司編  1617-1892.
The daily records of the chief matters discussed at the Pibyonsa. the joint civil and military council of the government. It is not clear when these records first began to be kept, but nothing has survived from before 1617. The extant sections are a primary source for national history.

Kosan yugo 孤山遺稿 Yun Sŏndo 尹善道 (l587-1617) Published 1798.
The collected writing of Yun Sŏndo. consisting mainly of poems. He was for the most part a quiet poet of nature, but his technique still exercises an influence over Korean poets. His poems in sijo form, in particular, are highly prized. Some critics would regard them as the finest creations in the Korean language.

Hong Kiltong chŏn 洪吉童傳 Hŏ Kyun 許筠 (1569-1618) Written about 1610.
A typical Korean romance. It tells of a man, Hong Kiltong, who was a great disadvantage in society because he was the son of a concubine, how he became an outlaw, heading a robber band whch preyed on the rich to help the poor, and how in the end he set up a utopian kingdom of his own. There is a distinct theme of egalitarianism, but the story is full of fanciful interludes.

Sŭngjŏng-wŏn ilgi 承政院日記 Recorded by the Sŭngjŏng-wŏn 承政院 1623-1610.
The daily records of the royal office known as the Sŭngjŏng-wŏn, a secretariat which dealt with all royal commands and messages sent to the king. There are 3,245 volumes. Since they deal with the relations of all goverment departments to the throne and with many palace matters, there were kept secret during the Yi dynasty. Some parts are missing for the times of the Japanese and Manchu invasions. A cardinal historical source.

Akchang kasa 樂章歌詞 Pak Chun 朴浚 (date unknown).
The oldest book of Korean song lyrics, containing 24 pieces. Although it seems to have been designed chiefly for court use, it preserves a few important examples of the popular songs of the Koryŏ period.

Chibong yusŏl 芝峰 類說 Yi Sugwang 李晬光 (1563-1628) Published 1633.
This was the first Korean encyclopaedia. It included information about other Asian countries, and even about Europe, arranged in 20 volumes. It profoundly influenced Korean thought in many fields.

Nogye chip 蘆溪集 Pak Illo 朴 仁老 (1561-1642) Published 1800.
A three-volume collection of the writings of Nogye. The third volume, containing 7 long poems in the Korean language (kasa) and 60 short poems (sijo), is especially important. The writer did not begin to write poetry until he was 40 years old, but is reckoned as one of the three greatest poets of Korea. (The other two are Songgang and Kosan) . His work is rugged and sturdy, as befits a military official.

Pan’gye surok 磻溪隨錄 Yu Hyŏngwŏn 柳馨遠 (1622-1673) Completed 1670.
A critical account of the administration· of Korea in 26 volumes. The section on agricultural management is of particular importance and interest. The writer was a fore-runner of the Sirhak-p’a, or Pragmatists, of two centuries later.

Yorowŏn yahwagi 要路院夜話記 Pak Tuse 朴斗世 (1654-?) Published 1678.
A novel composed of pieces describing the faults and corruptions in the Yi dynasty system. It takes the form of conversations between nobility from Seoul and the countryside meeting for the night in an inn called the Yorowŏn.

Kuun mong 九雲 夢 Kim Manjung 金萬重 (1637-1692) Published 1689.
The finest of the old novels of Korea. The theme of the whole work is the transience of human life. The hero is a buddhist monk who, with eight fairy women, transmigrates into the world where he attains riches and honour and marries all eight women only to wake up at the end and realize that it was all a dream. It is said that the book was written to entertain the author’s mother when they were in exile together.

T’aengni chi 擇里志 Yi Chunghwan 李重煥 (1690-?) Published 1714.
This book can be considered the earliest Korean treatise on human geography. The first volume treats of the eight provinces of the country with their climate, history, products, and other relevant topics. The second volume treats of favourable natural conditions for human prosperity. The influence of early sirhak (pragmatism) is seen in this work.

Sallim kyŏngje 山林經濟 Hong Manson 洪萬選 (1643-1715) Date of publication unknown.
The first Korean text on natural science, written in the 17th century. It deals with such matters as agriculture, housing, horticulture, sericulture, animal husbandry, food production, medicine, forestry, and gives clear information on the state of the national development in such fields at that time.

Kusuryak 九數略 Ch’oe Sŏkchŏng 崔錫鼎 (1646-1715) Date of publication unknown.
The only old Korean book dealing with mathematics. It is our source for traditional Korean reckoning methods, and had more attention been paid to it the scientific aspect of the nation’s genius might have been developed long before it was.

Hŭngbu chŏn 興夫傳 Author and date unknown.
An example of popular literature in which virtue is rewarded and vice is punished. It belongs to the pansori (minstrels’ tales) and marks the transition from an aristocratic literature to a popular literature. The two leading characters are the good Hŭngbu and his bad elder brother Nolbu. In reward for mending the broken leg of a swallow Hŭngbu receives a gourd-seed, which eventually produces a gourd full of gold and jewels. Nolbu tries to gain the same advantage by deliberately breaking a swallow’s leg and then mending it. He also eventually gets a gourd, but it contains only filth and hobgoblins.

Sim Ch’ŏng chŏn 沈淸傳 Author and date unknown.
The most proletarian of all Korean novels. It tells of the trials and tribulations of the girl Sim Ch’ŏng in her efforts to restore the sight of her blind father. In the guise of a tale of filial piety it presents a sometimes satirical account af the common people’s life and condition.

Ch’unhyang chŏn 春香傳 Author and date unknown.
The greatest and best-known of all old Korean stories. It exists in upwards of a hundred different versions. The theme is the love story of the low-born girl Ch’unhyang and the highly-born Yi Mongnyong. The tale not only shows how love triumphs over social difficulties, but gives expression to the growing awareness of the rights of the common folk.

Ch’ŏnggu yŏng’ŏn 青丘永言 Edited by Kim Chŏnt’aek 金天澤編 Published 1728.
One of the three great anthologies of Korean language poetry. It contains 1,015 sijo songs by 140 authors, ranging from kings to entertaining women, and has notes on the authors. The earliest songs are traditionally ascribed to the later Koryŏ period. The collection contains the best of the genre and thus enshrines the national poetic spirit up to the date of its compilation.

Haedong kayo 海東 歌謠 Edited by Kim Sujang 金壽長編 (1690-?) Published 1763.
The eighteenth century was remarkable for the attention paid to the development of singing. The compiler of this anthology of sijo spent 30 years in amassing his material. It contains 566 poems of which 117 were written by the compiler. One result of this is that more of his sijo remain than remain from the output of any other writer.

Sŏngho Sasŏl 星湖僿說 Yi Ik 李瀷 (1681-1763) Date of publication unknown.
The thirty volumes of this magnificent work contain an account of the life and times of the Chinese people from Han times to Ch’ing times, and describe the history, life and institutions of the Korean people, giving an account of their view of the western world in the early eighteenth century. The author stressed the practical usefulness of study, and gave critical attention to his own country and period.

Han-Han-Ch’ong mun’gam 韓漢淸文鑑 Kim Chinha 金振夏 Date of publication unknown.
A dictionary made by collating extracts from Han and Ch’ing Chinese books and appending grammatical assistance in Korean script A book of great importance in the study of the Korean language.

Chŭngbo munhŏn pigo 增補文獻備考 Compiled by order of King Kojong 高宗 命撰 1907.
A vast encyclopaedia of Korean matters from the earliest times to the end of the Korean empire, comprising 250 volumes. The work done by Yi Manun in 1770 was a revision of the earlier Tongguk munhŏn pigo. It was further revised and printed in 1907.

Ilsŏng rok 日省錄 Edited in the Kyujang-gak 奎章閣編 (1760-1800)
630 volumes, compiled during 140 years by the royal library. They give detailed accounts of the doings of the kings, and are a primary historical source.

Tamhŏn sŏ 湛軒 書 Hong Taeyong 洪大容 (1731-1783) Published 1939.
An important work of geography and other sciences. It included an exposition of the theory that earth revolves on its axis.

Tongsa kangmok 東史綱目 An Chŏngbok 安鼎福 (l712-1791) Published 1778.
A history of Korea from Kija to the end of Koryŏ from the confucian point of view, written in 20 volumes on the pattern of Chu Hsi’s work on Chinese history. Regarded as a good example of objective writing.

Haedong myŏngjang chŏn 海東名將傳 Hong Yangho 洪良浩 (1724-1802) Published 1816,
A collection of biographies of great Korean generals from the Three Kingdoms period onwards. It is of some value and interest for historical purposes.

Muye tobo t’ongji 武藝圖譜通志 Compiled by order of King Chŏngjo 正宗王 (1752-1800) 命撰 Published 1790.
An illustrated work on Korean military arts. It was composed at the command of King Chŏngjo and covers archery, swordsmanship, horsemanship and other warlike skills, explained by pictures. It is of great interest as showing the Korean methods of dealing with these subjects.

Yŏrha ilgi 熱河日記 Pak Chiwon 朴趾源 (1737-1805) Written 1780.
A typical example of a Korean diary of travels in China. It is the finest of such works, and its style and contents have been much praised. It contains information about the history and customs of China as well as account of the journey.

Yŏllyŏ-sil kisul 燃藜室記述 Yi Kŭngik 李肯翊 (1736-1806) Date of publication unknown.
A history of the Yi dynasty written in 29 volumes. It is written with remarkable detachment from the partisan feeling of the period, and is most important source of accurate information.

Oryun haengsil to 五倫 行實圖 Yi Pyŏngmo 李秉模 (1742-1806) Published 1797.
This book enshrines the principal ethical tenets of the Yi dynasty, aimed at the right government of the nation through correct confucian-style relations between sovereign and subject, father and son, friend and friend, and so on. 120 characters appear in the work but only 77 of them are Koreans: the remainder are Chinese.
Haedong yŏksa 海東繹史 Han Ch’iyun 韓致奫 (1765-1814) Date of publication unknown.
A history of Korea compiled from more than 550 Chinese and Japanese sources. The author was unable to finish the work and it was completed after his death. It consists of 85 volumes. In spite of its eclectic character and pastiche technique, it added a new dimension to historiography by including attention to geographical and other aspects as well as annals. It is still of value to historians.

Han chung rok 閑中錄 Princess Hyegyŏng (of the Hong family) 惠慶宮 洪氏 (1735-1815) Written 1795.
A typical example of writings in pure Korean script according to the style of speech of the royal palaces. It tells of the life of the Princess Hyegyong after the murder of her husband. Prince Sado, by his father, whose hatred of him was pathological. (The 28-year-old prince was shut up in a chest and died of starvation and suffocation). The work was finished when she was 72 years old. It is elegant, remarkably clear and touching.

Pukhak ŭi 北學議 Pak Chega 朴齊家 (1750-?) Published 1778.
“Pukhak” or “Northern Learning” denotes Pak’s idea that the introduction of more ideas from Ch’ing China into Korean affairs would improve the country’s situation. His concern for economic growth in many ways foreshadowed the modernisation process of the twentieth century.

Chasan ŏbo 玆山魚譜 Chŏng Yakchŏn 丁若銓 (1758-1816) Written 1815.
Like many of the literati of the period Chŏng Yakchŏn spent part of his life in exile in the provinces. This book was written during a sixteen year exile in the far south of the country. Living by the sea, he became interested in marine biology and produced this book, covering fish, crustaceans, plants and mammals. It exists in a single manuscript volume.

Sŏun’gwan chi 書雲觀志 Sŏng Chudŏk 成周悳 (1759-?) Published 1818.
The writer worked for over a decade in the Sŏun’gwan, which was the weather and calendar bureau of the Yi dynasty, where he was chiefly concerned with the drawing up of the calendars. He used the materials he gathered during that period to write this account of the equipment and principles involved in the work of the Sŏun’gwan, including some indications of how they had developed historically. It marked a new stage in the growth of Korea’s age-old concern about astronomy and meteorology.

Mongmin simsŏ 牧民心書 Chŏng Yagyong 丁若鏞 (l762-=1836) Date of publication unknown.
The 48 volumes of this famous work are the best presentation of the thought of Chŏng Tasan, or (Chŏng Yagyong) who is now recognized as the foremost mind of his day. The book is in effect a manual of administration, but it contains much criticism of the selfish and irresponsible administration which was all too typical of the times. Tasan saw that the safety and prosperity of the realm, as well as the human dignity of the people, depended on a just appreciation of the fundamental rights of the peasants.

Onmun chi 諺文志 Yu Hŭi 柳僖 (1773-1837) Published 1824.
One of the very small number of important books about the Korean language dating from the times when Chinese grammar and script were the current vehicle of Korean writing. As such it is invaluable. It contains a discussion of Korean phonetics (initial, medial, and final sounds), the origin of the Korean script and other points favouring the extended use of the alphabet.

Oju sŏjong 五洲書種 Yi Kyugyŏng 李圭景 (1788-?)     Written 1839.
An encyclopaedic account of the practical sciences of Korea. It deals with metals, gems, glass, bone, pottery, stone, ivory, pearls, military equipment, boats, and a whole museum-like collection of subjects.

Imwŏn simnyuk chi 林園十六志 Sŏ Yugu 徐有榘 (1764-1845) Date of publication unknown
A handbook of industry, concerned chiefly with agriculture. Only part of it is extant, and it is probable that the author never completed his work. It treats of rural housing and field systems and all aspects of the farmer’s life in a way unequalled elsewhere.

Tongguk sesi ki 東國 歲時 記 Hong Sŏngmo 洪錫謨 Date unknown. Published 1849.
A book of folklore, describing local annual festivals and foods and many kinds of wine. Many customs now extinct, such as cart fighting and torch fighting, are described according to the localities where there were observed. The relations between the customs and the agricultural year become obvious from the accounts given. The descriptions cover even minor observances in remote places.

Yi Ch’unp’ung chŏn 李春風傳 Author and date unknown. 作者.年代 未詳
One of the few old novels in what would now be called short-story form. It tells of Yi Ch’unp’ung, the son of a wealthy family, who after the death of his parents wastes his patrimony on wine and women. He borrows money from the government, and goes to P’yŏngyang, shaking off the entreaties of his wife and squandering this fortune too on women. However his wife adroitly regains the lost money and Yi is restored to happy family life. Interest in the status of women is obvious in this amusing and attractive tale.

Ch’ŏnggu to 靑邱圖 Kim Chŏngho 金正浩 (?-1867) Written 1834.
Two volumes of maps, the first work to be completed by Kim Chŏngho. Making use of the influence of modern concepts of latitude and longitude as he had learned of them from Chinese sources, he made enlarged and reduced versions of maps. He gives a gazetteer and illustrations of the towns and cities of Korea. It was a significant publication in the history of Korean map-making.

Taedong chiji 大東地志 Kim Chŏngho 金正浩 Published 1864.
A book in 32 volumes which expands and enlarges the topographical part of the Ch’ŏnggu to. A single exemplar remains in the library of Koryŏ University. It adds to that work considerations of mountains and rivers and other natural features, and includes interesting material relating to the history of placenames.

Taedong yŏji to 大東輿地圖 Kim Chŏngho 金正浩 Written 1861.
A somewhat simplified and revised version of the Ch’ŏnggu to. It is in the form of a folded book, so that some features, such as roads and streams, can be presented at length and without interruption at the edge of the pages. The network of the road system is marked off with ten-li points, indicating distances accurately. The author had made another step forward in the scientific approach to his fatherland.

Tonggyŏng taejŏn 東經大全 Ch’oe Cheu 崔濟愚 (1824-1864) Published 1880.
The scriptures of Ch’ŏndo-gyo. It was published in one volume by the second leader of the cult, Ch’oe Sihyŏng, after the author’s execution. The text was dictated from memory by Ch’oe Sihyŏng, and kept secret for some years, while the sect was being persecuted.

Yongdam yusa 龍潭遺詞 Ch’oe Cheu 崔濟愚 Published 1909.
The songbook of Ch’ŏndo-gyo, based on the form of Christian psalms and containing altogether 227 songs. The religious content is a syncretistic mixture of confucianism, buddhism, and taoism, with a strong purpose for the development of Korean society.

Kagok wŏllyu 歌曲 源流 Edited by Pak Hyogwan 朴孝寬 (1800-1880) and An Minyŏng 安玟英 (1816-1885) 1876.
A collection of sijo edited by master and disciple in collaboration. It contains 857 songs, 192 of them for women singers. It is reckoned one of the most accurate anthologies.

Kich’ŭkch’e ui 氣測體義 Ch’oe Han’gi 崔淇綺 (1803-1879) Published 1836.
A book expounding a scientific philosophy in opposition to the widely known taoist attitude to reality, and asserting the real value of sense experience. Even though it was based on works published in China, it was nevertheless a notable advance in Korean thinking. It represents a move away from metaphysics towards a more pragmatic attitude.

Tongŭi suse powŏn 東醫壽世保元 Yi Chema 李濟馬 (1837-1900) Published 1901.
The original description of the now well-known sasang ŭihak, or theory by which people are divided into four classes by a principle derived from the yang-yin theory and the four classes are given different treatments for the same diseases because the essential natures of the patients differ. The principle in much used in traditional Korean medicine today and has affinities with psychological and other developments in modern western medical treatment.

Maech’ŏn yarok 梅泉野錄 Hwang Hyon 黃玹 (1855-1910) Written 1910.
A six-volumes private chronicle, indicting the countries which have tried to deprive Korea of her sovereignty and deriving its pathos from the fact that the author as an old man saw the country being annexed to the Japanese empire. It came to light at the time of the liberation in 1945, and is one of Korea’s classics of patriotism.

Sŏyu kyŏnmun 西遊見聞 Yu Kilchun 俞吉濬 (1856-1914) Published 1895.
A record of what the author saw and learned during travels in Europe and America. It was the first book to be written in a mixture of Chinese characters and Korean alphabet (kukhanmun). It was also the first serious attempt to consider the possibility of discovering a peculiarly Korean form of modernisation.

Kugŏ munbŏp 國語文法 Chu Sigyŏng 周時經 (1876-1914) Published 1910.
The pioneering work on Korean grammar, which began the structural analysis of the language. It was a remarkable achievement for a man who died at a comparatively early age.

Marŭi sori 말의 소리 Chu Sigyŏng 周時經 Published 1914.
The first book on Korean grammar to recommend the writing of Korean with the letters set side by side (as in the Roman alphabet) instead of in the traditional form of “syllable clusters”. It was many years ahead of its time in its appreciation of the functions of phonemes and morphemes. The writer was a valiant opponent of the Japanese.

Hyŏrŭi nu 血의 淚 Yi Injik 李人稙 (1862-1916) Published 1907.
Regarded as the first of the “modern novels”, this story deals with a freer marriage system, study in universities overseas, and other aspects of twentieth-century Korean life. It was a novel of the “enlightenment”. It tells the story of Ku Wansŏ and his fiancee Ongnyŏn during ten years beginning with the Sino-Japanese war. It clearly represents Yi Injik’s great importance in the transition from the writing of “old novels” to the writing of “modern novels”.

Han’guk t’ongsa 韓國痛史 Pak Unsik 朴殷植 (l857-1925) Published 1946.
A work of Korean history written in Chinese and originally published in Shanghai in 1915. It was a patriotic contribution to the Independence Movement.

Chosŏn sanggo-sa 朝鮮上古史 Sin Ch’aeho 申采浩 (1880-1936) Published 1948.
A history of the Three Kingdoms period, originally published in serial form in the Chosŏn Ilbo newspaper in 1931. It rates Koguryŏ more highly then Silla. The author was a patriot as well as an historian.

Chosŏn pulgyo yusin ron 朝鮮佛敎維新論 Han Yongun 韓龍雲 (l879-1944) Published 1913
A critique of Korean buddhism, then in a moribund condition, expressing hope for the emergence of a reforming leader. It was written by a famous monk, who was also a poet and an independence movement leader.

Paek p’al pŏnnoe 百八煩惱 Ch’oe Namsŏn 崔南善 (1890-1957) Published 1926.
The first anthology of modern Korean poems in sijo form, full of love of the fatherland. The author was the founder of modern studies of Korean literature and history and also a poet.

Mujŏng 無情 Yi Kwangsu 李光洙 (1892-?) Published 1918.
The first novel to break away entirely from the old style of literary language and write in a modern idiom. It also shows young Koreans in love relationships derived from western thought. The author has been considered the greatest of twentieth century Korean novelists and founded the modern Korean novel.