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Satirical bilingual pun poem in Classical Chinese and Korean

The seismic political scandal surrounding South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil has inspired a remarkable piece of bilingual wordplay in the form of a satirical poem in Classical Chinese which, when read in Korea’s traditional hanja readings, results in a poem in Korean with a different meaning. The text, which originally appeared on Korea University’s 대나무숲 Daenamusup (meaning ‘bamboo forest’) Facebook page (a forum for anonymous submissions from students), consists of five-character lines, following a popular form of Classical Chinese poetry. I have presented it below first in Chinese characters, then in the Korean alphabet hangul according to the hanja readings, then in the Revised Romanization of Korean in grey italics, the Yale romanization of Korean, and then the pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet according to the Pronouncer convention.

朴公主獻呈詩 박공주헌정시 Pak Gongju Heonjeongsi pak.kong.cwu.hen.ceng.si [b̥ak.koŋ.ʣʲu həːn.ʣʲʌŋ.ɕʰi] (‘Poem dedicated to Princess Park‘)

謹惠家潔國 근혜가결국 geunhyegagyeolguk kun.hyey.ka.kyel.kwuk [ɡ̊ɯːn.ɦje.ɡa.ɡjʌl.ɡuk]
該奈侍於他 해내시어타 haenaesieota hay.nay.si.e.tha [hɛ.nɛ.ɕi.ʌ.tʰa]
儺懶骨以斬 나라골이참 naragoricham na.la.kol.i.cham [naː.ɾa.ɡo.ɾi.ʦʲʰam]
囐刀喇干多 잘도라간다 jaldoraganda cal.to.la.kan.ta [ʣ̥ʲal.do.ɾa.ɡan.da]
利精刀一俊 이정도일준 ijeongdoiljun i.ceng.to.ilq.cwun [iː.ʣʲʌŋ.do.il.ʦʲun]
預相謨擇嗲 예상모택다 yesangmotaekda yey.sang.mo.tayk.ta [jeː.z̥ʰaŋ.mo.tʰɛk.ta]
把曲度破道 파곡도파도 pagokdopado pha.kok.to.pha.to [pʰa.ɡok.to.pʰa.do]
械束那嗚耐 계속나오내 gyesongnaonae kyey.sok.na.o.nay [ɡ̊je.z̥ʰoŋ.na.o.nɛ]
無當淳實爾 무당순실이 mudangsunsiri mwu.tang.swun.sil.i [mu.daŋ.z̥ʰun.ɕʰi.ɾi]
赦撚分宕質 사년분탕질 sanyeonbuntangjil sa.nyen.pwun.thang.cil [z̥ʰaː.njʌn.bun.tʰaŋ.ʣʲil]
對寒民國恩 대한민국은 daehanmin’gugeun tay.han.min.kwuk.un [d̥ɛː.ɦan.min.ɡu.ɡɯn]
諸丁士會多 제정사회다 jejeongsahoeda cey.ceng.sa.hoy.ta [ʣ̥ʲe.ʣʲʌŋ.z̥ʰa.ɦø.da, -ɦwe-]

The translation into Korean given in the original post is given below, followed by a re-translation into English:

가정을 사랑하고 국가를 단정히 함을 삼간다면 If one refrains from loving family and making the country clean
그 어찌 남에게 도움을 받을 수 있으리오? How could one receive help from others?
게으른 됨됨이는 베어내어 쫓아내어라. Cut out and cast away the lazy nature.
수많은 칼과 방패가 소리내어 부딪히는데 Great many swords and shields noisily clash
그 중에 날카롭고 예리한 칼 하나가 두드러지니 One sword, sharp and acute, stands out
미리 서로 모의하여 고개 숙여 아부한다. So, in advance they conspire and flatter with heads bowed.
틀린 법도를 쥐고 도리를 해치니 Upholding the wrong custom and harming what is right;
형틀과 결박에서 어찌 비명이 그치리오. How would the screams cease from the rack and those bound
순박하고 진실한 자는 아무도 당할 수 없으니, There is no match for the simple and true,
뒤틀린 본분과 방탕한 자질도 용서하며 Who forgives even a twisted sense of duty and prodigal nature
빈한한 백성에게 나라의 은혜를 베풀어 Granting the mercy of the country to the poor people;
모든 장정과 선비가 모여드는구나 All the strong men and scholars gather.

It takes a fair amount of liberal interpretation to squeeze these meanings out of the Classical Chinese text, but that does not matter because this is a poem meant to be read aloud in Korean. Here is what the above sounds like in Korean, with the Chinese characters for the Sino-Korean elements given in parentheses:

근혜(槿惠)가 결국(結局) 해내시었다. 나라 꼴이 참 잘 돌아간다. 이 정도(程度)일 준(줄은) 예상(豫想) 못 했다. 파고 또 파도 계속(繼續) 나오네. 무당 순실(順實)이 사(四) 년(年) 분탕(焚蕩)질. 대한민국(大韓民國)은 제정(祭政) 사회(社會)다.
Geunhye-ga gyeolguk haenaesieotda. Nara kkol-i cham jal doraganda. I jeongdo-il jun (jul-eun) yesang mot haetda. Pago tto pado gyesok naone. Mudang sunsil-i sa nyeon buntangjil. Daehanmin’guk-eun jejeong sahoe-da.
Kunhyey-ka kyelkwuk haynaysiessta. Nala kkol-i cham cal tolakanta. I cengto-ilq cwu’n (cwul-un) yeysang mot hayssta. Phako tto phato kyeysok naoney. Mwutang Swunsil-i sa nyen pwunthangcil. Tayhanminkwuk-un ceyceng sahoy-ta.
[ɡ̊ɯːn.ɦje.ɡa.ɡjʌl.ɡuk hɛ.nɛ.ɕi.ʌt.ta na.ɾak.ko.ɾi ʦʲʰam ʣ̥ʲal.do.ɾa.ɡan.da i.ʣʲʌŋ.do.il.ʦʲun jeː.z̥ʰaŋ.mo.tʰɛt.ta pʰa.ɡot.to.pʰa.do ɡ̊jeː.z̥ʰoŋ.na.o.nɛ mu.daŋ.z̥ʰun.ɕʰi.ɾi z̥ʰaː.njʌn.bun.tʰaŋ.ʣʲil d̥ɛː.ɦan.min.ɡu.ɡɯn ʣ̥ʲe.ʣʲʌŋ.z̥ʰa.ɦø.da, -ɦwe-]
(‘Geunhye has finally done it. What a fine state the country is in. Didn’t expect it was to this extent. Dig and dig, but it keeps on coming. The shaman Sunsil squandering four years. The Republic of Korea is a theocratic society.‘)

This type of bilingual wordplay is not new. Kim Satgat (김삿갓, byname of Kim Byeong-yeon 김병연 金炳淵, 1807–1863), famous for his satirical poems, has a series of couplets attributed to him, beginning with 天長去無執 花老蝶不來 천장거무집 화로접불래 cheonjanggeomujip hwarojeopbullae (‘The sky is so high that one could go up and not grasp it / as the flower withers, butterflies do not come‘), which sounds like 천장 거미집 화로 겻불내 cheonjang geomijip hwaro gyeotbullae (‘On the ceiling, spiderwebs / from the brazier, smell of fire made with hulls of rice‘).

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