The Annals of King T’aejo

The Annals of King T’aejo

TRANSLATED AND ANNOTATED BY Choi Byonghyon
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wprjq
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  • Book Info
    The Annals of King T’aejo
    Book Description:

    Never before translated into English, this official history of the reign of King T'aejo--founder of Korea's illustrious Chosŏn dynasty (1392-1910 CE)--is a unique resource for reconstructing life in late-fourteenth-century Korea. It includes a wealth of detail not just about politics and war but also religion, astronomy, and the arts.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-41979-7
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note on Translation
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Translator’s Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)

    TheVeritable Records of the Chosŏn Dynasty (Chosŏn wangjo sillok朝鮮王朝實錄) is a historical record that routinely documents the significant events and developments that occurred during the first 472 years of the Choson period in Korea. The record begins with the reign of the first monarch, T’aejo, from 1392 and continues through the reign of the twenty-fifth monarch, Ch’olchong, which ended in 1863. There exists additional annals of the last two kings of Chosŏn, Kojong and Sunjong, but compiled during the Japanese colonial rule, they are generally not recognized as official canon of the dynastic annals of Choson. The entries...

  7. General Introduction (Ch’ongsŏ)
    (pp. 1-100)

    Grand Progenitor, Strong, Dedicated, Humane, Destiny-Opening, Holy, Cultivated, and Divinely Martial Great King(T’aejo kanghŏn chiin kyeun sŏngmun sinmu taewang):¹ His family name is Yi, and his personal name Tan, and his courtesy name Kunjin. His former name [before he ascended the throne] is Sŏnggye, and his pen name Songhŏn. He came from the illus trious Yi lineage of Chonju. Yi Han, who served as minister of works(sagong)in the kingdom of Silla, married a daughter of Prefect(kunyun)Kim Ūnūi, a tenth-generation descendant of King T’aejong² and sired Chancellor(sijung)Chayŏn. The chancellor sired Chief Administrator(pogya)Ch’ŏnsang,...

  8. First Year of Reign (1392)
    • Book I
      (pp. 101-165)

      T’aejo ascended the throne at Such’ang Palace. Earlier, on the twelfth day of this month, King Kongyang [of Koryǒ] intended to visit T’aejo at his private residence and strike an alliance with him, while having some drinks together. The bearers of ceremonial weapons and instruments had already lined up (for the royal procession), but at that time, Chancellor Pae Kŭngnyǒm and other officials spoke to the queen dowager [of King Kongmin]:¹ “The present king is benighted. He has lost the Way of a monarch, and the hearts and minds of the people have already left him. He is unable either...

    • Book II
      (pp. 166-233)

      The king sent Yi Kǒin, left director of the State Finance Commission, to the Chinese court and expressed his condolences to the emperor: “Our envoy Kwon Chunghwa and others returned from their trip to the capital [Nanjing],¹ and I learned from them that Your Imperial Majesty was grieving the death of your beloved son. Though the love and affection between father and son are limitless, our life-span is already set by Heaven; it is futile to resist what was predetermined. I sincerely beg you to consider the people of the world who rely on you and to restrain your sorrows...

  9. Second Year of Reign (1393)
    • Book III
      (pp. 234-281)

      Leading a host of officials, the king held a congratulatory ceremony of the new year while facing in the direction of the Chinese emperor. For the first time, the officials were dressed in the official uniforms made in China. After the ceremony ended, the king sat on the throne and received felicitations from officials both of the court and from the provinces. The Privy Council presented a memorial of felicitations(chǒnmun),and the military commissioners, surveillance commissioners, magistrates, and prefects from all the provinces also presented letters of felicitations along with local products. Cho Pak, surveillance commissioner of Yanggwang Province,...

    • Book IV
      (pp. 282-334)

      An eclipse took place, but it was invisible. At first, an astrologer(ilgwan)reported, saying, “There will be an eclipse around sunset.” The king waited until the sunset, dressed in plain white clothes. He took them off after the sun went down.

      The king said to Chief Royal Secretary Yi Chik, “Every day when I carry out my duties, both high- and low-ranking officials abruptly come into Pop’yongjon¹ Hall to make a report, which I believe is quite inappropriate and presumptuous. From this day forward, let the military commissioner [of the Righteousness Flourishing Royal Guards] first inquire about official business...

  10. Third Year of Reign (1394)
    • Book V
      (pp. 335-397)

      The king went to Such’ang Palace, leading all officials in a ceremony to congratulate the Chinese emperor on New Year’s Day.

      The king ordered to have the western bedchambers of Such’ang Palace pulled down to build a two-story palace, and put Kim Sahaeng in charge of its construction.

      The king sent the crown prince to Chaun Monastery¹ to hold a Dharma assembly with a sacrifice calledsadae yǒnsǒng pǒpsǒk,which was designed to prevent stellar catastrophes from taking place. The king personally attended the assembly and watched the proceedings.

      On the seventh day of the New Year(inil),the king...

    • Book VI
      (pp. 398-461)

      The Privy Council submitted a memorial to the king: “Now that you have ascended the throne and established a new dynasty, you should set a good example for posterity by making clothes, goods, and decorations for daily use as frugal as possible. Items such as diverse colorful silks and dyes of various colors are all imported, so it is hard to supply them all the time. So are gold and silver, because they have to be sent away as tribute to the suzerain state [China] every year. Nowadays, people use them as they please, regardless of their rank and position,...

  11. Fourth Year of Reign (1395)
    • Book VII
      (pp. 462-504)

      The king, with all officials behind him, performed the New Year ceremony to honor the Ming emperor and received felicitations from the officials.

      Yi Mu, tribute emissary, and Chǒng Namjin, envoy on a mission to celebrate the birthday of the imperial crown prince, returned from Nanjing.

      Four Japanese, including one named Omote Shila, surrendered themselves to the Korean authorities, and the government let them stay in Kyǒngsang Province.

      The king sent Sǒng Sǒngnin, chief magistrate of Kaesǒng, to the Northeast Region to offer sacrifices to various royal tombs.

      Inspector-General Pak Kyǒng submitted a memorial requesting that the king punish Chǒng...

    • Book VIII
      (pp. 505-559)

      The censorial offices impeached Kim Un’gwi, former magistrate of Kaesǒng, for excessively acquiring rank land and being unfilial to his parents. The king sent him into exile only on charges of acquiring more rank land than he was entitled to.

      Then the king summoned Yi Ko, policy advisor, and other officials and said, “At the end of the previous dynasty, it often happened that censors impeached innocent people based on the rumors they heard and sometimes had them killed. I feel sorry for those people. Since I ascended the throne, I have given orders that the censorial officials should not...

  12. Fifth Year of Reign (1396)
    • Book IX
      (pp. 560-592)

      Leading all officials, the king performed the ritual ceremony celebrating the New Year facing in the direction of the Chinese emperor.

      Then the king received congratulations from the officials and held a ban quet for them. All the officials enjoyed themselves very much, and Yi Mubang, Great Lord of Kwangyang, became so animated that he got up and danced. Chong Tojon, director of the State Finance Commission, offered a toast to the king’s longevity: “Since New Year’s Day is the top of the year, and the founder king, the supreme head of a nation, to bring a nation into existence...

    • Book X
      (pp. 593-629)

      After Queen Hyǒn fell ill, the king had fifty monks gather in the inner palace and pray to Buddha for her recovery.

      Due to a heavy overnight rainstorm, a section of the semicircular chemise [defensive bastion] near the water outlet in the capital collapsed.

      The king dispatched a eunuch to invite the Ming envoys to the inner palace, but they said, “We came here on a mission given by the emperor but have not accomplished anything yet. If we keep on enjoying ourselves, drinking wine, how should we report to the emperor when we return home? If you can tell...

  13. Sixth Year of Reign (1397)
    • Book XI
      (pp. 630-687)

      It rained and snowed. Leading all officials, the king held a ritual ceremony commemorating the New Year, facing the direction of the Ming capital, but did not receive the New Year greetings of the officials. Instead of attending the morning audience, all officials went to the coffin hall(pinjǒn),where the corpse of Queen Sindǒk was temporarily laid, and offered a sacrifice to the spirit of the deceased queen.

      Meteors fell in the north. Mars moved into the main gate of the Supreme Palace Enclosure and remained south of the Guardian Stars. All officials proceeded to the hall where the...

    • Book XII
      (pp. 688-729)

      Yi Sun, assistant navy commander of Right Kyǒnggi Province, captured five Japanese marauders and presented them [to the authorities].

      The king bestowed saddled horses upon Chǒng Tojǒn, Count of Ponghwa, and Nam Ŭn, Lord of Ŭisǒng.

      The king appointed Na Se, former assistant grand councilor of the Chancellery, as chief commissioner for criminal apprehension (to ch’up’osa) of Kyonggi and P’unghae Provinces as well as the Northwest Region; Ch’oe Yugyǒng, deputy director of the Security Council, as supreme inspector of Kyǒnggi and Ch’ungch’ǒng Provinces; and Kang Chungnim, director of the Office of Guest Affairs, as special commissioner of Ch’ungch’ong Province. The...

  14. Seventh Year of Reign (1398)
    • Book XIII
      (pp. 730-774)

      Dressed in the royal robe of the highest protocol and with the mortarboard crown with strings of hanging beads on the front and back, the king led various officials to hold a New Year ceremony congratulating the emperor [of China]. Then he received felicitations from all officials while sitting in the Hall of Diligent Government.

      The civil and military officials from various provinces separately came forward to present local products to the king, and the chiefs of the Wuduli and Wulangha tribes also presented their local products. After the ceremony was finished, the king held a banquet for the officials....

    • Book XIV
      (pp. 775-855)

      The king paid a visit to Hŭngch’ŏn Monastery and gave orders to build a three-story Hall of Sacred Buddhist Relics to the north of Hungch’on Monastery. Then he ordered various military units to recruit fifty volunteers among company commanders and lieutenants, providing them with provisions.

      There was a strong wind.

      O Sach’ung, Great Lord of Yŏngsŏng, submitted a memorial to the king requesting that the prohibition of alcohol be enforced, and his request was granted.

      A meteorite fell in the northeast.

      There was a strong wind. An accidental fire broke out in the houses in Kahoebang¹ and spread through the...

    • Book XV
      (pp. 856-898)

      The sun appeared in five colors. Venus was visible during the day, and at night, a meteor came out of the lodges ofKuiand Mars and entered the mansion ofLou.

      The king ordered the crown prince to occupy the Eastern Bedchamber.

      Wanting to eat grapes, the king ordered Cho Sun to take his message to the crown prince and the other princes: “Since I no longer have my father, I made his portrait to preserve his memory. Though my health has broken down, I am still breathing, which I believe is fortunate for you. While my illness continues,...

  15. Glossary of Terms
    (pp. 899-952)
  16. Glossary of People and Places
    (pp. 953-990)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 991-994)
  18. Index
    (pp. 995-1028)