[KS] pyongyang kamsa

dilj at pdx.edu dilj at pdx.edu
Thu Mar 21 02:25:26 EST 2002


Why were Korean kings not depicted on the Han River?
In China, Jiajing emperor and Qing emperors sojourning on the river were 
depicted, although they appear with military, not with kisaeng.
Why only Koreans like the pyongyang screen, as Gari mentioned?
Is it because they are folk paintings or figures too small, geography too 
unfamiliar, not artistic?
What can excite the western viewers?


Junghee Lee

Quoting "Lee, Young-Jun" <lee41 at fas.harvard.edu>:

> 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.
> Sincerely,
> Young-Jun Lee

Dept of Art
Associate ProfessorPortland State University
P. O. Box 751
Portland, OR  97207-0751
E-mail: dilj at pdx.edu
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