Netizens Find Handwriting in Letter From Korean Prince Cute

Jeongjo's Hangul letter written to his aunt

The picture above, an old letter written by a 7-year-old Prince from the Joseon Dynasty, has gathered attention in celebration of Hangeul Day, (aka Korean Alphabet Day). The letter was sent to his aunt, although it is not crystal clear whether she was his paternal or maternal aunt. Since his paternal aunt was his biological mother, Lady Hyegyeong (the prince was adopted by his uncle), his cute letter may be interpreted very differently depending on that little information.

The prince later grew up to be King Jeongjo. He is currently enjoying huge popularity in the afterlife, thanks to K-dramas like Yi San and the Sungkyunkwan Scandal that depicted him as a tragic hero. Whilst he introduced many political reforms that are still widely respected in Korea, he died under suspicious circumstances at the age of 48.

The following article is from the Digital Hangeul Museum’s modern translation of the letter.

From Digital Hangeul Museum :

7-year-old Prince, later King jeongjo’s letter to his aunt, is revealed

[Translation of above image]

Dear Aunt

As the wind is getting cooler, I worry about your health. I would like to hear from you. I was missing you when I got your letter, for it has been such a long time since I visited you. I am glad and reassured reading your letter, especially hearing my grandfather is doing well.

Wonson [Wonja, Prince Royal]

Comments from Daum:


So cute.. Kids will be kids..


It feels weird ke ke He’s done well for such a young age… ke ke My writing wasn’t that good when I was eight. ke ke ke


OMG He’s SO cute.. huh huh I can’t believe this kind of document still exists… I like how he used the tilde symbol. ke ke


Pu-haha ke ke I’m sorry I’ve got to laugh out loud ke ke ke Oh I didn’t expect his handwriting to be this cute…


ㅇ.ㅇ!!!… At the end of the letter, he crossed out the character ‘op’ and rewrote it. OMG cute… +///+


Graundfather…[referring to the old word meaning grandfather in the letter] ke ke He’s adorable.


Hey, ‘Expensive Bicycle,’ [referring to another netizen] you should go and study Korean History all over again. Since he wrote the letter when he was a Royal Prince, he must’ve been younger than eight. He’s just a kid, what did you expect? BTW, with your not knowing who ‘King Jeongjo’ was, you sound like an elementary school kiddo.


If he was Wonson, then he must’ve been preschool age… The writing looks neat for such a little kid.


He was eight? Oh dear how cute! ke ke ke ke


I’m not sure what he’s saying. Anyway, it looks like he’s asking how his aunty is doing.


His writing looks mature for a little boy ke ke Somehow I feel closer to him huh huh


He wrote the letter hundreds of years ago, [He was born in 1752] and yet the words seem not too different from the ones we use today. I’ve always known it, but reading this letter makes it more fascinating.


It feels like I should be like ‘Oh you cutie pie Yi San [King Jeongjo’s name] wrote a letter to aunty! You little my saekki [this saekki purely means baby, without any bad connotations, it’s not this saekki]’ and patting his little baby butt.


This is hilarious ke ke ke ke He’s probably the smartest King of Joseon ke ke ke


I bet this letter will be in the College Scholastic Ability Test next year. Oh it’ll be dissected in various workbooks!


His Chinese characters seem flawless. His hangeul looks clumsy, but his Chinese character looks nice and clean.


Oh dear ke ke The second row from left, he crossed out and rewrote a letter ke ke This is a refreshing side of him ke ke


Technically, he’s younger than eight. Wonsons rose to Sesons[Prince Successors] at the age of eight. And he was still a Wonson when he wrote this letter.


Look at that cute signature, ‘Wonson.’ ke ke


Oh he must’ve been a cute little prince huh huh His father, Crown Prince Sado lived a tragic life, but his son turned out to be okay..

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  • Shame this article suffered from the comments downtime!

    • Snazzy_Brett

      Yea, I didn’t even notice it until now.

      “Since his paternal aunt was his biological mother…”

      Does that mean that the King had a baby with his sister? And that baby was the crown prince to the throne? And that doesn’t make anyone raise their eyebrows?

      • King Jeongjo(the baby here)’s father, Crown Prince Sado, was murdered by his(Sado’s) father(King Yeongjo) for political reasons. And to secure the baby’s status as a future king, he was adopted by his father’s dead-half-brother(Who was also King Yeongjo’s first son). The baby wasn’t even allowed to call Crown Prince Sado and Lady Hyegyeong as his parents. So the baby was forced to call his own mother as his ‘aunt.’

        • Snazzy_Brett

          Wow, it may be the way I’m reading your response Guest (I thought I saw your handle as “Summer” in my email), but its difficult for me to wrap my head around. Can you try it again without parentheses and commas, but in bullet form? Thanks for trying.

          • Ruaraidh

            How about this. There was a Korean king whose first son died, and whose second son was a deviant. Worried about the second son, and now heir’s behaviour, the king had him killed. Needing a new heir, the king had his grandson made crown prince. However the new heir’s father was the king’s second son, so the king had his first son posthumously adopt the child. This meant that the child’s adopted father was his biological uncle, and his biological mother was his adopted aunt.

            Or in other words a dead prince adopted the son of his mad and executed brother. This was because his father, who had the mad brother executed, for some reason didn’t want his new heir associated with his disgraced son. For this reason the young heir was forced to call his biological mother, aunt. When you think of it that way, the king sounds just as mad as his executed son was.

          • Thanks @disqus_IYGF8inbGT:disqus ! I always admire at your writing skills. Have you thought of writing a novel or something?

            @Snazzy_Brett:disqus , sorry for that messy post. I assumed you’d have some knowledge of Joseon Dynasty. BTW, I’m Noori lol It came up as “Guest” because I accidently deleted my Twitter link. And it seems like I’m stuck this username from now on.

          • Snazzy_Brett

            @disqus_IYGF8inbGT:disqus You cleared it all up for me. Very impressive feat. Real life is so interesting but I almost cant believe the absurdity of this story. I’m with Noori: write a book, dude!

            @twitter-149590254:disqus, I mean Noori, I mean… which do you preferred to be called by? Just reread your post and it made sense this time.
            Actually I have a few interesting Korean history books but I *shamefully* only read about what interested me at any specific moment. So far I’ve gone through chunks of Silla and Goryeo but my knowledge of Joseon is mostly limited to its final years. I started with King Sejong and then skipped to Western traders in the 19th century skip again to post-Japanese occupation and Korean war.

            Now you’ve both got me pulling books off the shelf to learn about a crazy King and his bastard grandson heir whos mom was his aunt and whatever else you both said to make my head spin.

          • Sorry for my late response, Brett! I don’t mind being called both!

    • How could a 7-year-old prince compete with a young, hot Uzbek girl? lol Thanks for breaking the silence!!

  • Shawna_KM

    Reminds me of when I try to write in hangeul. Comes out in different sizes.

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