[KS] pyongyang kamsa

Lee, Young-Jun lee41 at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Mar 18 15:15:34 EST 2002

Dear Professor Gari Ledyard:

Thank you very much for your discussion.
But, I would like to explain my idea on the issue.
When I was saying "kamsa" for "kind of an inspector", I was not 
mistaking for its homophone in the way you mentioned.
I meant "kamsa" had " functioned like a temporary circuit inspector" 
"rather than permanent governors"(please see Palais's book I 
mentioned, p. 678), because his term was limited to 360 days, whereas 
other lower magistrate to 1800 days as Lee Ki-baik wrote; as you 
might know, Yulgok Yi yi lamented that one year is not enough for one 
to learn the circumstances of a province; Korean  kings were so 
concerned of controlling provincial power that "kwanchalsa" was not 
sent to their home province, and did not allow them condition to grow 
to threatening power. This is why I said "kind of an inspector from 
Seoul", eventhough they had sheer power as a governor.
On top of that, interestingly, the official name "kwanchalsa" 
corresponds to the mission of the title, that is, doing 
"kwanchal"(inspecting), which seems to allude the inherent position 
of "kwanchalsa" on the political map in Choson dynasty. And, we 
should not miss the fact that the title "kamsa" appears no less often 
than "kwanchalsa" does in Choson wangjo sillok, implying that the 
title was not necessarily informaly used.

As for the word "saekhyang", I advisedly said, "town of 
entertainers", because Pyongyang is well known for its culture of 
entertainment, including the academy of excellent kisaeng.  The 
reason of the reputation is not accidental; Pyongyang is located in 
the middle of envoy route between China and Choson. As we witness 
some aspects of Yangban's libertine culture in Yongjae ch'onghwa, and 
in terms of literal meaning also, your suggestion of "sexville" for 
"saekhyang" is correct and debunking as well. But, considering the 
existence of kisaeng, who is the major producer of the reputation of 
"saekhyang", including Hwangjini who was a memeber of Pyongyang 
kisaeng, I would like to avoid alluding Pyongyang as a brothel, which 
is not proper treatment for kisaeng, and for some literati proper at 
the time who aspired to be an ascetic Neo-Confucianist.

Thank you very much.

Young-Jun Lee

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