Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Has anyone translated the "Annals of King Taejo" into English?

Yes, Honam University Professor Choi Byong-hyon has just published an English translation of "The Annals of King T'aejo, Founder of Korea's Choson Dynasty," a 4-year project. This is the first time this 600-year-old history has ever been translated in English. The book is 1000-plus pages, which includes an index and a glossary of terms.

(The photo to the left comes from THIS KOREAN ARTICLE.)

The book is well formated, and the translation seems good, but the binding of my hardcover version seems a little weak. I suspect the book will be coming apart before I get to the end of it, so some people may prefer to get the Kindle version since it is also being sold HERE on Amazon.

I would not buy the NOOK version of the book, even though it is about $9 cheaper than the Kindle version, because NOOK does not display Chinese characters. You do not need Chinese characters to read the English translation, but some characters are used in the footnotes, and there are almost 100 pages of glossaries in back of the book that list Chinese characters. If Chinese characters are not that important to you and you have a NOOK, then save $9 and get the NOOK version.

UPDATE: The Kindle version is now selling for $33.49, which is a good deal.

The "Annals of King Taejo" include entries on matters both  trivial and interesting. For example, here is what was entered on the First Day of the Fourth Month in the Year 1394, a date I picked by just randomly opening the book.
1st Day (Kyŏngo)
There was frost. 
The king ordered to recruit the people in the town who were good at stone fights to make a military unit and named it "Stone-Throwing Army" (ch'ŏksŏkkun).  
The Censorate and the Board of Punishments jointly submitted a memorial urging the king to eliminate members of the Wang royal clan. The king replied, "Gather various members of the Wang clan at one place and protect them well. Wang U, Lord of Kwiui, who lives in Majŏn County to sacrifice to his ancestors, should be excepted in discussions of the matters related to the Wang clan.
As you can see, some of the expressions may be a little awkward, but it is still pretty good English. Also, this day in Korean history seems to have been a little boring, but I suspect there will be much more excitement on other days.

Imagine reading a Korean history written 600 years ago. I am very excited.

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