[KS] Joseon-era official terms

Kirk Larsen kwlarsen67 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 30 12:00:50 EST 2010

An additional resource that may further complicate things (but is
nonetheless interesting and useful) is the "Korean History
(http://thesaurus.history.go.kr/index.html) provided by our good friends at
the 국사편찬위원회. Rather than give the single definitive English-language gloss
for a term, if often reveals the myriad ways in which a certain term has
been rendered in English.

The entry for 공조판서(工曹判書), for example, includes the following as

Grand Minister of Works
Minister of Commerce
Minister of Construction
Minister of the Board of Works
Minister of Works
(as well as "Ta Ssu-k'ung").


Kirk Larsen

2010/12/30 BakerDon <ubcdbaker at hotmail.com>

>  The most convenient way to find the standard translations for the titles
> of institutions and positions in pre-modern Korea is the glossary available
> on-line from the Academy of Korean Studies. The url is:
> http://www.aks.ac.kr/glossary/default.asp
> However, sometimes some of their translations are not the standard
> translations. For the standard translations, you should look at the glossary
> prepared by Edward Wagner for his *The Literati Purges: Political Conflict
> in Early Yi Korea* (1974) and the glossary James Palais attached to his
> study of Yu Hyongwon, *Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions*. A
> third source would be the glossary to the recently published English
> translation of Tasan's Mongmin simseo, under the name *Admonitions on
> Governing the People.*
> 공조판서 is usually translated as Chief Minister of the Ministry of Public
> Works, though the AKS glossary gives the somewhat anachronistic translation
> Minister of Commerce
> 의금부 is usually translated as the State Tribunal, though that glossary says
> Correctional Tribunal
> 포도부 is not in the AKS glossary.  捕盜廳 is, and it is translated as Capital
> Police. So I suspect that 포도부 is the local police station. That means 捕盜部將
> should be translated as police chief.  However, in some contexts it refers
> to the prison, and therefore 捕盜部將 would be the warden of the prison.
> Calling him the Commander for the Arrest of Bandits is too literal.
> This is all of the top off my head, since I am far away from my home
> library today (I'm in South Carolina, visiting family, and there isn't much
> on Korea in the libraries here!)
> Don Baker
> Professor
> Department of Asian Studies
> University of British Columbia
> Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z2
> don.baker at ubc.ca
> ------------------------------
> Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:07:45 -0800
> From: djtorrey at yahoo.com
> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: [KS] Joseon-era official terms
> Dear Members:
> I'm trying to determine the English for the terms listed below. Charles
> Hucker's Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China gives some, but
> not all, and I'm also wondering if the translations would be different for
> the Korean context. I'm also listing my tentative translations. If they are
> incorrect, or if you know of better alternatives, please respond. Many
> thanks in advance.
> Deberniere Torrey
> 공조판서 gong jo pan seo (工曹判書): Minister of the Works Section
> 의금부 ui geum bu (義禁府): Justice and Prohibition Office (or Bureau)
> (For this one, I've also seen Royal Prohibition Bureau; State Tribunal; and
> Royal Inspector's Office.)
> 포도부/ 포도부장 po do bu / po do bu jang (捕盜部/ 捕盜部將) Office for the Arrest of
> Bandits / Commander for the Arrest of Bandits. (This is what Hucker gives.)

Kirk W. Larsen
Department of History
2151 JFSB
Provo, UT 84602-6707
(801) 422-3445
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