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]
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..
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.
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.
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.
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