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Hong Taeyong and His Peking Memoir Gari Ledyard In an earlier article I discussed some of the general features of a special body of literature that developed from the Chinese-Korean relationship: the diplomatic travel diary. ' In this article I would like to analyze more fully a particular example of that literature, the Peking Memoir (Tamhön yöngi), and the life and thought of its unusual author, Hong Taeyong (ho Tamhön, 1731-1783). Hong was the nephew of Hong Ok (1722-1809), who was the secretary of the solstitial embassy of 1765-1766. Solstitial embassies, so named because they left each year around the time of the winter solstice, were ceremonially the most important of the formal exchanges between Korea and China. They normally arrived in Peking a few days before the lunar New Year, when the emperor held a grand formal audience attended by thousands of officials and by ambassadors from the various tributary states. The Korean embassies usually stayed in Peking for about two months. The solstitial embassy left Seoul on December 13, 1765, and reached Peking on February 6, 1766. After the customary stay, it left Peking on April 9 and was back in Seoul on May 28. Hong Taeyong, then aged thirty-five, was not a regular officer on this embassy, but went in the fictive capacity of military aide to his uncle. Each of the three ranking officers of the embassy was allowed to take such aides (the ambassador four, the deputy ambassador two, and the secretary one), and they were invariably younger relatives who had intelligence and literary talent. Such positions were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities , and the people lucky enough to be appointed to them could not expect to, and rarely ever did, receive another chance to visit China. These young aides had little in the way of formal duties; in fact, they were privileged tourists. The chief record of Hong's trip is the Peking 64LEDYARD Memoir, a consolidated account of his experiences in four volumes (kwön) and eighty-one sections, topically arranged to present his observations and impressions in a systematic fashion. This is a carefully edited work of literature and not a diary in the strict sense, although the various sections are usually dated, and it would be possible to reconstruct from the Memoir a strict chronological account. Evidently Hong kept a true diary in Korean, and this seems to have survived. Still, it has never been edited or published; only the first page has been reproduced in a modern translation of some of Hong's writings by Ch'ön Kwan'u.2 Undoubtedly it was by the Memoir that Hong wished his experiences to be known. It is not only a record of his trip, but a systematic report on the life and institutions of Peking and northeastern China in 1766. In addition to the Memoir proper, there is a separate section in two volumes entitled Kanching Brush Talks (Kanjöng ? 'iltam), 3 devoted to a record of Hong's meetings and conversations with three Chinese scholars who lived in a Peking neighborhood named Kanching. Some editions treat the Memoir and the Brush Talks as separate works, and it appears that the two texts have always been generally treated as distinct from each other even if obviously related. As we shall see, the earliest known text treats them as two parts of a single book. A reading of both texts makes it clear that they are integrally connected in both style and format, and that any account of Hong's trip that did not include the Brush Talks would be a very flawed account indeed. A careful study of the contents of the eighty-one sections shows that Hong arranged his material in an organized structure that can be divided into six major parts. It is convenient to refer to these major parts and their sections by number, although Hong himself did not provide such numbers. Part 1 could be entitled "People and Conversations," and is the longest single part of the Memoir, containing sections 1 to 27. When one considers that Hong was in China for just a few months, the range of these...


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