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On: Ahn Mi -ok's poem
By Ahn Miok
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Wolmyeongsa (月明師: 月明 is a Buddhist name and 師 is a honorific title which means “master” or “tutor”) was a writer of hyangga (native songs from the Silla dynasty (B.C. 57-935) into the early Goryeo dynasty written in hyangchal) during the time of King Gyeongdeok (r.742∼765) in the eighth-century. He was a Buddhist monk and member of the Hwarang (a society of elite warriors). His main pieces are Jemangmaega (祭亡妹歌 Requiem for the Dead Sister) and Dosolga (兜率歌 Song of Tusita Heaven). It was said that his piri (피리 pipe instrument) playing was so good that it stopped the moon in its orbit. Records about him are in Samgugyusa (三國遺史 Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).
Yi Ok was a writer who left behind many lively and interesting works, having put his all into the creation of brief essays on minor subjects (小品文 sopummun) his whole life. He was an uncompromising and unique writer. As a Confucian student of the National Confucian Academy (成均館) in 1792, Yi Ok did not bend even when he received a command from King Jeongjo (正祖, r. 1776-1800) to fix the ‘irreverent and strange writing’ style in the essay on minor subjects on the written exam to which the King Jeongjo himself had set questions.
Hong Dae-yong (洪大容, 1731-1783) was a member of the illustrious Noron faction and a Silhak scholar of the Bukhak group. He contributed greatly to the development of scientific thought during the Joseon dynasty. In 1765, he visited Beijing with his uncle Hong Eok (洪檍), where he experience Western culture and the Kaozheng method (考證學) of the Qing dynasty. After returning to Korea, he influenced individuals like Park Ji-won and participated in the formation of the Bukhak group. His writings include Damnheonseo (湛軒書 Writings by Hong Dae-yong) and Damheonyeongi (湛軒燕記 Records of an Envoy to Beijing by Hong Dae-yong).
Kim Uchang (Hangul 김우창; born 1937) is a South Korean literary critic and English literature scholar. He is known for his arguments on building a rational society based on “aesthetic rationality” and moving beyond the dichotomy of conservatism and liberalism, modernism and post-modernism, nationalism and globalism, and literature as an ideology to empower the masses and literature as an art free of any political context.
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