Jo May 7, 2023

“Rimwonsipryukji” compiled by a realist scholar So Yu Gu (1764―1845) in 1825, is a national classic where documentary records concerning economy and culture are arranged in categories.

Rimwonsipryukji, which is left incomplete, is a huge work, running to 113 volumes and 62 books. This enables us to guess what an enormous book he mapped out.

Divided into 16 parts, Rimwonsipryukji contains valuable information extracted from as many as 500-odd kinds of domestic and foreign records that was considered indispensable for developing the national economy and daily life. All the information is organized in categories and followed by the origins of the data and the author’s opinion of each item.

The front parts Ponriji and Kwangyuji are about agriculture. Here, general knowledge of agriculture and methods of cultivating and processing 33 kinds of vegetables and over 20 kinds of medicinal herbs are introduced. The author wrote that success or failure of agriculture depends on the skills and efforts of humans, not on natural conditions.

The horticultural parts Yewonji and Manhakji deal with methods of growing more than 50 kinds of flowers, over 30 kinds of ornamental grasses, 30 kinds of fruit trees, several kinds of trees, tea plants, tobacco plants, etc. and even those of changing the colours of flowers artificially.

Poyangji and Injeji give a detailed description of rules of diet for good health and longevity, exercise, massage, taking medicine, taking care of the elderly and children, and other things concerned with branches of medicine like gynaecology, paediatrics, surgery, etc.

Rimwonsipryukji serves as one of the invaluable national classics since it not only reflects the author’s aspiration to make a positive contribution to the development of the national economy and culture but also contains copious amount of all-round knowledge about the socio-economic situations, medicine, food culture, life style, etc. in the latter half of the feudal Joson dynasty.

Ri Won Chol, researcher at the Academy of Social Sciences