Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 123


Standing straight with the title, ‘As this miserable and fungus-like small plant becomes a big and favourite tree’ adapted from the Tcheonzamun poem (753rd to 768th)

Hyeonhi R. Park
  • Hyeonhi R. Park
  • Department of Elderly Care and Welfare, Joongbu University, Kumsan, Republic of Korea.
  • Google Scholar
Jieun A. Kim
  • Jieun A. Kim
  • Department of Economics, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • Google Scholar
Kunjoo D. A. Kim
  • Kunjoo D. A. Kim
  • FarmHannong, LG Chemicals, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • Google Scholar
Jiah A. Kim
  • Jiah A. Kim
  • Départment d’Expertise economique, Université de Paris-Est Creteil, Paris, France.
  • Google Scholar
Sohwa T. Kim
  • Sohwa T. Kim
  • Department of French language and Literature, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
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Rosa Kim
  • Rosa Kim
  • L’Ambassade de la République de Corée en Cote d’Ivoire, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Google Scholar
Alain Hamon
  • Alain Hamon
  • L’Ecole Internationale Jean-Mermoz, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
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Sangdeog A. Kim
  • Sangdeog A. Kim
  • Department of Companion Animal and Animal Resources Science, Joongbu University, Kumsan, Republic of Korea.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 30 March 2017
  •  Accepted: 06 July 2017
  •  Published: 28 February 2018


The purpose of this study is to know the bi-language mask of Tcheonzamun expression; the real meaning. The researchers utilized two methods: interpretation through Korean pronunciation and  utilization of Chinese character.  The aim of this work is to explain in plain terms the title of this work, ‘As the miserable and fungus-like small plant becomes a big and favourite tree’.  The researchers tried to know the meaning of ‘BiPa’ in the poem.  And the researchers considered that it was a weapon that seemed to be more efficient than the weapons of other countries at that time.

Key words: Maeg people, Tcheonzamun (The Thousand Character Essay), 753rd to 768th characters, stand straight.



It is very difficult to explain the topic of an article. This is true. Even in this work, the researchers find it difficult to explain the research problem (Park and Kim, 2016a). Originally, the researchers’ aim to study Tcheonzamun (the Thousand Character Essay) was to know Chinese language. However, the researchers came to realize that there was a big difference between the common interpretation of Tcheonzamun (Kim, 2002) as shown in the first part of this study, and the meaning of the one translated in Chinese language. They also found that there are several rules in Tcheonzamun:
1. A poem is composed of 16 Chinese characters.
2. The first line of 4 characters shows the common sense of the world. The second, third and fourth lines are opposite to the meaning of the first line with deeper and more interesting meanings.
3. It is believed that the author of Thconzamun poem wanted to express his positive attitude to life.
4. The researchers write their own essay with ordinary and usual subjects of their common life in translating Tcheonzamun. The subject of this time is an impression of ‘Freedom Writers’, an American film, written by Hyeonhi.
5. The researchers received the warm feeling from Tcheonzamun translation as if Mr Ilsoo Joseph Kim (Augustin’s father) gave them courage, ‘For what do we live? What is the purpose of our lives?’ The researchers through the translation of Tcheonzamun searched the purpose for writing Tcheonzamun. It might be to encourage people not to be disappointed, to learn how to restart in life, to know that little things are very important and one’s family is precious. The author’s objective is to have the Joy of life’.
This work aims to know the bi-language mask of Tcheonzamun expression. The author wrote the poems with sorrow and joy mixed together. He seemed to be sorrowful at one time, and joyful and full of hope in other occasions ((Park and Kim, 2012; Kim and Park, 2013; Park and Kim, 2015; Park and Kim, 2016 a; Kim and Park, 2016; Park and Kim, 2016 b; Kim and Park, 2017). The researcher investigated several books on Korean culture (Dallet, 1874; Reischauer and Fairbank, 1972). Fairbank and Reischauer (1978) wrote:
“The oldest remaining Chinese books, dating from the first half of the first millennium before Christ, do not tell us much about previous ages. There are several versions of this early pseudo-history. The usual sequence is of three early rulers (huang) or possibly fraternal groups of rulers, followed by five emperors (ti) and three dynasties, which take us well into historical times. The three rulers and five emperors are often called “culture heroes” because to them and to lesser figures like them are attributed the early achievements of civilization, such as the discovery of fire, the origination of fishing, hunting, and agriculture, the dividing of calendar, the development of medicine, and the invention of writing. The wife of the first of the five emperors is credited with the development of sericulture, for silk production is typically the work of women. The last two of the five emperors, Yao and Shun, are best known for having passed on their rule, not to sons, but to be worthy ministers. Yao selected Shun, and Shun a man named Yu``.
The three together are known as the three model emperors. Yu`` is also famed as the hero who drained off the flood waters of the North China Plain and divided the empire into nine provinces. A Chinese reflection of the world-wide flood legend can be detected in this story. Yu`` also commences a somewhat more credible aspect of the tradition. He started a dynasty called Hsia, which has been assigned the dates 2205 to 1766 B.C. (or 1994 to 1523 B.C. according to another source). The Hsia rulers are credited with reigns of reasonable length, in contrast to the Methuselah-like spans of the culture heroes. The last Hsia emperor was so depraved that people revolted under the leadership of a man who founded a new dynasty, named Shang. The Shang, which was traditionally given the dates of 1766 to 1122 B.C. or 1523 to 1027 B.C., has been proven by archaeology to be fully historical, for the An-yang indubitably correspond to the second half of the dynasty, and the Cheng-chou finds presumably to its earlier centuries. This raises the question of what actual facts may lie behind the tradition of the Hsia dynasty. Might it not correspond to the earliest bronze age, or perhaps the Black Pottery culture which preceded it?
The last of the Shang emperors was said to be a debauched tyrannical ruler – an allegation which the bone inscriptions from An-yang tend to substantiate. One of those who suffered most at his hands was a subject known to history as King Wen (Wen Wang) of the principality of Chou. His son and successor, King Wu (Wu Wang) eventually revolted, according to the tradition in either 1122 or 1027 B.C., and founded the third dynasty, which he called Chou after the name of his principality. His brother, the Duke of Chou (Chou Kung), became the consolidator of the dynasty, as the wise and saintly councillor of King Wu’s young son and heir. The Chinese writing system encountered in the Anyang had already undergone a long development and had progressed far beyond simple pictographs. Antecedents for this writing, in fact, seem to exist in sites of the fifth millennium B.C.
The Chou people, who conquered the Shang around 1050 B.C., lived in the Wei Valley west of the great bend of the Yellow River. Their capital was near the modern city of Sian. While the Chou were themselves an agricultural people, they lived close to the sheep-herding barbarians of the Northwest and were culturally quite distinct from the Shang. The old Neolithic Black Pottery culture seems to have persisted in the Wei Valley almost to the time of the conquest. The Chou apparently had become vassals of the Shang, protecting the western marches of the realm, but under three successive leaders, King Wen, King Wu, and the latter’s brother, the Duke of Chou, they destroyed the Shang and overran all of North China. In fact, the wide spread of early Chou remains suggests that they conquered a much larger area than the Shang had ever dominated, stretching from the Wei Valley to the eastern extremity of Shantung and from southern Manchuria to the middle and lower Yangtze Valley.
And the present researchers supposed a hypothesis that Tcheonzamun was written by Korean ancients – Maeg people- and the book spread into China around 500 B.C. (Park and Kim, 2016). The researchers want to insist that “If there is Talmud in Israel, there is Tcheonzamun in Korea”. This is because all the 63 poems continuously aim to give courage to weak persons through the Chinese character translation (Kim SA, Park HR, Kim JA(1), Kim KDA, Kim JA(2), Kim R, Kim ST, 4 May 2013). This study aims to investigate who had the dominant power for the culture in East Asia between China and the Maeg country; in other words, the old Koreans. Confucius expressed his praise concerning Maeg people in Kangxizidian (Zhang, 1716). The big dictionary of Chinese language (Zhang, 1716) showed that some Maeg people were captured by Chinese soldiers, and then the Maeg people were forced to work for China government as public service men or women. The slavery condition of Maeg people was well figured in Tcheonzamun poem (Park et al., 2017).
Chung (2012) wrote that there was a big combat between Yeon and Maeg in the period of 661 B.C. Maeg was greatly defeated by Yeon in the battle. It is certain that through these descriptions China was superior to Maeg at that time. The fact that present researchers want to know is “what are the effects of Tcheonzamun in the East Asia including China?  The present researchers want to know the origin of Koreans and their language. They want to investigate the relationship between Hsia and Shang, the oldest two countries in China, and Maeg. In other words, “are the people of Hsia and Shang countries the root of Maeg people, the old Koreans?” Did Confucius (he lived around 551 to 479 BC) only love the life style of Maeg people as shown in Kangxizidian (Zhang, 1716)? Or did he, the greatest man in the old Chinese culture, want to mimic the Tcheonzamun in his thought? And did Confucius want to utilize some of Tcheonzamun poems in his writings?
This assumption suggests that the cultural base of the East Asia possibly came from Maeg people through Tcheonzamun. This will be the further research study, and it is at present suggested that some words in Chinese language in modern period came from Maeg word shown in Tcheonzamun. This is the main reason for this present investigation.


The study used the common Tcheonzamun (The Thousand Character Essay) book (Kim, 2002) and other Tcheonzamun translation (Sturman, The Thousand Character Essay). In grammar, the order of Chinese language is S (subject) + V (verb) + O (object), while that of Korean language is S + O + V. The researchers came to know that most sentences in Tcheonzamun are in the order of V1 + O1, V2+ O2 in a line of 4 characters, and the meaning is as follows:
In order to do (V1) something (O1), we are going to do (V2) another thing (O2). This analysis method is contrary to the translation of Chinese sentences, while this is similar to the translation of Korean sentences. From this fact, the researchers started to think that Tcheonzamun is not the work of Chinese but of ancient Koreans (Park and Kim, 2015).


The following is an impression of ‘Freedom Writers’, an American film, written by Hyeonhi, one of the researchers: The background was a classroom of first-year student of senior high school who lived in a slum in USA. It seemed not to be a common classroom of the school but a group of gangsters in his viewpoint. The youths in the film had to be well grown up in their adolescence. If they continue to live the life style of their families and their parents in the slums, then the youths will grow up being influenced by their environment. In other words, those students in the senior high school were in bondage of their social environment. When new semester began, Erin Gruwell came to the class of the school as a new teacher. After Erin had become the teacher of the problematic class, she wanted to be a teacher, representative, protector of her students during the 3 years she was there. And the students began to change. Though some of the senior teachers in the school had a 30 year experience as a teacher, the teachers had only led the rough students of the class without any good change.
But Erin Gruwell through her dedication helped the students to change. Erin made her students believe that there was somebody who was responsible for them and who understood them. She taught them that they themselves were the most important human-beings in the whole world, and that it is why they must love themselves. One of the students asked her in the class, “What is Holocaust?” Erin Gruwell explained to the students with ‘Diaries of Anne Frank’, and they later invited Mrs Miep Gies who helped the family of Anne Frank and as well preserved ‘Diaries of Anne Frank’ after Anne’s death. Mrs Miep Gies came to the students of the class from a distant country, Netherlands, and she told them about Anne Frank who had written the diaries during the World War II. The saying of Mrs Miep Gies was very expressive: “I am not a heroine, but you are the heroes!”
With the support of the new teacher, Erin Gruwell, the senior high school students in the slums wrote their diaries every day; they themselves experienced changes, they had hope for better future forgetting their unfavourable and disappointing environments; they were able to graduate to senior high school, and even advanced to universities. From that movie, we, all of us, can be changed favorably and we have the ability to change our environment.
The next is the commonly used translation of the Tcheonzamun (The Thousand Character Essay) in Korea (Kim, 2002), from 753rd to 768th, and its meaning in other translation, published on the internet in the United Kingdom (Sturman, Source:, which was similar to that of the Korean version.
Chinese character, (- / V `) shows the Chinese character tone, (Chinese pronunciation); its meaning:
渠(/)荷(/)的(`)歷(`) (qu he di li) The lotus flower in the pond is beautiful, and I smell good fragrance from the flower.
園(/)莽(V)抽(-)條(/) (yuan mang chou tiao) The grasses in the garden are nourished with those nutrients from the soil, they spread their branches and are grown into large grasses.
枇(/)杷(-)晩(V)翠(`) (pi pa wan cui) Pipa(loquat) trees maintain lately their green leaves even in winter.
梧(/)桐(/)早(V)凋(-) (wu tong zao diao) Odong(paulownia) trees dried early their leaves even in the autumn.
And recently the researchers found out that Tcheonzamun was interpreted in Korean languages (Park and Kim, 2016c). The finding of bi-lingual mask is extremely intereseting for the researchers (Kim and Park, 2016a, b), and from this fact the researchers thought that the author of Tcheonzamun had written some of the Korean history in the Tcheonzamun. The following is the translation of the poem in Chinese characters.
No. of character Korean alphabet (Korean pronunciation) Chinese character (translation)
753 to 756 거하적력(KeoHaZeogLyeog) 渠(/)荷(/)的(`)歷(`) If the appearance were (的) directly impressive to people’s eyes(歷), the flowers of lotus might be so(荷) when they existed in a pond(渠). Yes, it is truly so. If the beautiful and clean lotus flowers bloom in full in the dirty pond, they might be soon and really applauded. What will the author of Tcheonzamun say now? The author would talk about some other plant which is more beautiful than lotus flowers. The researchers wonder which is the plant? What plant is that?
757 to 760 원망추조 (WonMangTchuZo) 園(/)莽(V)抽(-)條(/) If some plants(莽) grow from the soil into a well-established condition (園), they must extend (抽) their branches(條). Oh, the Tcheonzamun author wants to say that “the Lotus plant is not the proper plant, because the plant does not shoot its stem.” Yes, the author seemed to express his intention that “the man must have his fixed principle as the plant must have its own stem!”
761 to 764 비파만취(BiPaManTchi) 枇(/)杷(-)晩(V)翠(`) As this miserable(巴) and fungus-like(木) small plant(杷) becomes a big(比) and favorite(木) tree(枇), a feeble bird(翠) with small(卒) feathers(羽) must endure its longer and tedious period(晩) in order to be a splendid bird. Its meaning is in order to be a great man or woman, one must keep through the hard time. Teacher: ‘if the plant continues to extend its branches, will good fortune come some day? And the future of man is the same like the plant or the small bird waiting for favorable things.”
768 to 768 오동조조(ODongZoZo) 梧(/)桐(/)早(V)凋(-) If you want to become happy, the word or thought(口) in his or her living place(∩) is the only one(一), and they will be harmonious and pleasant(桐), to a miserable condition; the thought or mind(口) is separated in many directions(五) and life becomes difficult(梧). Do you know the reason? It is very easy. If you say a lot (十) of words to others(曰), and if you round others(周) with cold attitude(氷) it will soon be like that(凋).
Augustin also says:
“The great teacher of Tcheonzamun! In order to be a great man or woman, he or she must keep through the hard time. Those great men and great woman are Father Jean Blanc, Hilye Sara Kim (Hyeonhi’s mother), Ilsoo Joseph Kim (Augustin’s father). How is Augustin? I am the man of ‘Saying a lot (十) of words to others (曰), and rounding others (周) with cold attitude (氷)’. It is pitiful…
The next is the interpretation of the poem in Korean pronunciation.
No. of Korean alphabet (Korean pronunciation); Chinese character translated into modern Korean and its meaning in English,
753 to 756 거하적력 (KeoHaZeogLyeog) 渠荷的歷 거 참
저런(Keo Tcham ZeoLeon) ‘Keo Tcham’ means ‘Oh No!’, and ‘ZeoLeon’ means ‘it is not credible!’ Therefore, the meaning of this sentence is ‘what terrible news!’
757 to 760 원망추조 (WonMangTchuZo) 園莽抽條 웬 망쪼야 (Wen MangZzoya)? ‘Wen’ means ‘how this happened?’, and ‘MangZzoya’ means ‘this is a very sad thing!’ Therefore, this sentence means ‘you had suffered terrible injuries from your defeat at the combat!’
761 to 764 비파만취 (BiPaManTchi) 枇杷晩翠 비파를 쥐고 (BiPaLeul Zwigo) ‘BiPaLeul’ means ‘take the lute shaped sword’, and ‘Zwigo’ means ‘hold it in your hands!’ Therefore, the meaning of this sentence is ‘take the precious sword and prepare for the new combat!’
765 to 768 오동조조 (ODongZoZo) 梧桐早凋 오똑 서줘 (Oddog SeoZweo)! ‘Oddog’ means ‘recover from your failure’, and ‘SeoZweo’ means ‘stand up please!’ Therefore, this sentence means ‘stand up from your miserable condition and take courage again!’
‘BiPa’ is a different kind of bronze dagger to Chinese dagger or other northern Asian bronze dagger (Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. and The Dong-A Ilbo, 1997). The BiPa bronze dagger or ‘Liaoning’ bronze dagger was fabricated with copper and zinc while the Chinese one with copper and tin (Haekeosseui, 2016). When did the Maeg people use the bronze dagger? It was suggested that the period was 2000 to 1500 B.C. (Haekeosseui, 2016), 9th to 8th century B.C. (, 1 February 2017) or 8th to 4th century B.C. (, 31 July 2017). Anyway, Maeg people were very proud of this ‘BiPa’ bronze dagger, and it might have been very good for the Maeg people in the combat. Even though the people of Maeg were at that time defeated in the battle by their enemies, the people of Maeg were told to “Seize the ‘BiPa’ dagger to have hope of victory in the future battle!”
The meaning of this poem in Korean pronunciation is similar to the Tcheozamun poem of 689th to 704th characters (Park and Kim, 3 October 2016); “Fight, my descendants!”.


The meaning of the translation in Chinese character is like a good teaching. But the interpretation in Korean language is continuation of ‘sorrow’ in the first and second lines and ‘hope and expectation’ in the third and fourth lines.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.


Chung IB (2012). Choseonsa Yeonku (Study of Korean History) (Edited by SJ Moon). Korea History Foundation. Seoul. 1:5-847.


Dallet CH (1874). Histoire de l'Eglise de Corée (History of Korean Catholic Church). Victor Palme. Paris. France. pp. 11-99.


Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. and The Dong-A Ilbo (The Dong-A Media Group) (1997). Britannica World Encyclopaedia. 10:587.


Fairbank JK, Reischauer EO (1978). China-Tradition and Transformation. Havard University. Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 17-32


Haekeosseui KY (2016). Haekeosseui Kongmuwon Hankuksa (Korean history by Haekeosseui Kongmuwon). Tchaemp Study. Seoul. pp. 32-33.


Kim JJ (2002). HanSeogBong Tcheonzamun. Eunkwang Publishing Company. Seoul. pp. 1-52.


Kim SA, Park HR, Kim JA(1), Kim KDA, Kim JA(2), Kim R, Kim ST (2013). Jiah Annaga Kotchyeosseun Seomun (The introduction which was corrected by Jiah Anna).


Kim SA, Park HR (2016). Uri IlSoo Josheph Abuzi Saenggag 18(Uri Minzogeui Gussen Iyagi - Tcheonzamun [Remember of my father Ilsoo Joseph 18 (Tcheonzamun is a story of our tolerant ancestors)]. 


Kim SA, Park HR (2017). Tcheolbuzi ("Naneun Dangsini Azu Areumdaun Yeoseongi Doigireul, Ddohan Naneun Dangsini Azu Hwalzzak Dangsin Ggumeul Pyeoltchineun Namseongi Doigireul Kidohago Isseoyo. Keureogge Doieozugireul Barago Isseoyo!") [Person of immature judgement ("I pray for you that you may become a man well developed and a woman in full bloom beautifully!")]. 


Park HR, Kim SA (2013). Nae Maeumeul Kibbeuge Mandeullyeogeodeun Haneunim Maeumeul Kibbeusige Haedeuryeora – Uri YeongHag Abuzi Deogbunieorau ! (If you want to make your mind happy, you must make the Lord's mind pleasant – It is the grace of our father YeongHag Park !). 


Park HR, Kim JA(1), Kim KDA, Kim JA(2), Kim ST, Hamon A, Kim R, Kim SA. (2017). Tcheonzamun author's prayer to God: "Save our lives, Lord!" (737th to 752nd characters). J. Lang. Cult. 8(6):75-78.


Park HR, Kim SA (2016a). Naega Nareul Baborago Saengkaghamyeon (Tcheonzamuneun Uri Keulibnida. Zungkug Keuli Anigoyo). [If I think that I were fool (Tcheonzamun-the book of 'The Thousand Character Essay'- is not Chinese writing but our Korean writing.)]. 


Park HR, Kim SA (2012). Atchim Ilzigbuteo Ileona Anzayaziyo (You must get up early in the morning). 


Park HR, Kim SA (2015). Zarangseureon Hankugeui Ddal Annaya! (Namdeulege Yogeul Bagaziro Eoteomeogeul Zeongdoro Motdoin Sarami Itgeona Ddoneun Azu Himdeun Zottchi Aneun Ili Ileonal Ddaee) [Our daughter Anna, our pride! (When there is near to you a very bad man who used to get lots of critics from other persons, or when there occurs a very bad thing to you.)]. 


Park HR, Kim SA (2016b). Uriga Ilbon Yeohaengeul Danyeoon Nal Zeonyeog Rosaga Bonaezun Keul ("Zunim Tcheonzamune Urinara Iyagiga Nawayo! - Tcheonzamun Zeozaeui Aezeolhan Zeolgyuyo!") [An E-mail letter from Rosa on the night when we returned from Japan journey (The sorrowful voices of Tcheonzamun's author in a Tcheonzamun poem and the petition of ancient Koreans to God)]. 


Park HR, Kim SA (2016c). Wolsageum 1000 won ("Haneunimggeseo Urireul Yeopeseo Barabogo Kyesinda!") [One thousand won(1 dollar) a month to our children as encouragement for their foreign language study ("The Lord see our behavior beside us!")]. 


Reischauer EO, Fairbank JK (1972). A history of East Asian civilization (volume one). East Asia, The great tradition. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. Tokyo. pp.1-449.


Sturman N (2009). The Thousand Character Essay (in Mandarin Qian Zi Wen). (Edited by Cambridge Chinese Classics, UK (United Kingdom). Source: (31 July, 2017). Hankugminzogmunhwa Daebaegkwa Sazeon (The Big Dictionary of Korean Traditional Culture).


Zhang SN (1716). Kangxizidian (Edited by Zhonghua Book Company in 2013). Beijing. pp. 1200-1201.