Hyangga and Sijo

Hyangga was first appeared during the reign of Silla. This is the first poetry that had an idea of standardization. Most of Hyangga had a feeling of Buddhist, and it told the life of Hwarang. This became the base of most Silla citizens’ thoughts and ideas. It prayed for nature, life, and ideal world. It showed concerns toward realities.











흐느끼며 바라보매

이슬 밝힌 달이

흰 구름 따라 떠간 언저리에

모래 가른 물가에

기랑의 모습과도 같은 수풀이여.


일오내 자갈 벌에서

랑이 지니시던

마음의 끝을 따르고 있노라.


아아, 잣나무 가지가 높아

눈이라도 덮지 못할 고깔이여.


As soon as it breaks through

Does not the moon again

Chase the clouds across the sky?

In the azure depths of the stream

Shines the image of Kiparang

And so I seek the mirror of his soul

Beneath the waters on the river’s pebbled bed.

Just like the high pine branches

The hwarang shrugs off the winter snow.

Above is the Hyangga of In Praise of Kiparang. This Hyangga is the unique and symbolic hyangga among all others. Even though most of other Hyangga are written in 4-4-2 rhythm, this one is written in 5-3-2. It explains how Kiparang, one of the leader of Hwarang, is noble-minded and dauntless. Moon describes Kiparang’s noble character. High pine branches to describe his lofty spirit who never get flinched by hardship. Winter snow is the trials and hardships Kiparang has been through.


Sijo is one of the korean literary genre that has the longest history. It amplified the feeling of traditional poetic form of korean people. It was written in between some huge range of time period.


이몸이 죽고 죽어

일백번 고쳐 죽어

백골이 진토가 되어

넋이라도 있고 없고

님 향한 일편단심이야

가실줄이 있으랴


Should I die and die again,

Should I die a hundred deaths,

My skeleton turn to dust,

My soul exist or not.

What could change the unswerving loyalty

Of this heart toward my lord?


This sijo, Single-Minded by Jeong Mong-Ju is revealing the loyalty toward the King, Yi Bang Won. There is some kind of conspiracy behind this Sijo. The observation of Jeong Mong-Ju’s life concludes that even though this Sijo shows the loyalty toward the King, his actions did not. Jeong Mong-Ju is the man who denied the position of the King, Yi Bang Won. Also, Yi Bang Won murdered Jeong Mong-Ju brutally on the bridge of Seonjuk. After his death, Yi Bang Won showed appreciation on his poetry which does not compliment to his actions. We can understand the reason hiding behind this when we learn about a man Jeong Do-Jeon. He was a threat to Yi Bang-Won’s position because the citizens supported him instead of Yi Bang-Won. On the other hand, Jeong Mong-Ju was nothing, so Yi Bang-Won appreciated Jeong Mong-Ju’s  works instead of Jeong Do-Jeon’s to hide his excellence. Appreciating Jeong Mong-Ju’s loyalty shows dislike towards Jeong Do-Jeon. That is why Yi Bang-Won revealed this poem saying that this poem is about loyalty toward himself even though it was about the kingdom before his reign.

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