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Kim Si-seup
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Kim Si-seup
His family clan originates from Gangneung(江陵), Gangwon-do.
His courtesy name was Yeolgyeong(悅卿). He had some other names, which were Maewoldang (梅月堂), Chunghanja(淸寒子), Dongbong(東峰), Byuksanchungeun(碧山淸隱) and Chueseong(贅世 翁). His Buddhist name was Seoljam(雪岑).
 Kim Si-seup's great-grandfather Kim Yun-ju was a minister at Anju, his grandfather Kim Gyeom-gan was a General of the Five Military Ranks, and his father Kim Il-seong served in one of the three royal military ranks as a minister appointed through inheritance. His mother was from the Jang clan from Seonsa, Uljin.

 Kim Si-seup was born in Seoul in 1435. He began his education under his maternal grandfather at the age of 3 in 1437 (19th year of King Sejong), and was known as a child prodigy because he was already composing poetry at the tender age of 5.

 In 1439 (Sejong 21) at the age of 5, Kim learned the classical Confucian texts Jung’yong and Daehak from Lee Gye-jeon employed as an editor at the Yemun’gwan. He learned the Mencius, the Book of SongsSi’gyeong), and Seo’gyeong from Kim Ban employed at the Seonggyungwan; and likewise, Juyeok(the The Book of Changes) and Yegi from Yun Sang, also of the Seonggyungwan. While receiving tutelage under these learned men, Kim read and studied various books on history and works by eminent writers on his own.

 In 1449 (Sejong 31), at the age of 15, after his mother’s death, Kim built a small hut next to his mother's grave and held a three-year period of mourning for her. After that time, he married the daughter of Nam Hyo-rye, the head of a training center (dojeong), but their life as a couple did not develop. After experiencing his mother's death, Kim awoke philosophically to the impermanence of human life. He took up residence at Jungheungsa(temple) in Samgak mountain and there continued his studies.

 In 1455 (Sejo 1), at the age of 21, Kim heard the shocking news of Grand Prince Suyang's usurpation of the throne (Gyeyujeongnan), and he resolved to remain living in seclusion at the temple and wrote Ja’gyusa. He condemned Suyang's usurpation of the throne and mourned the death of King Danjong. It is said that it was Kim Si-seup who took the corpse of the Six Loyal Ministers (Sayukshin) on the night they were executed, and temporarily buried them at No’ryangjin.

 Afterwards, Kim Si-seup took Buddhist vows and became a monk, but he left behind his life at the mountain temple and set out to wander all over the country. Many of the poems he wrote during his travels are found in his travel account Tangyugwanseorok, describing his tour of the Gwanseo region where he visited historical sites and the local mountains and rivers. In the epilogue, Kim explained his motive for taking up the life of a wanderer. He wrote: “Since a youngster, I’ve had a carefree and rather reckless personality, and so I didn’t pursue fame and money, nor did I have much of a concern for my livelihood. I wished to remain poor and honest. Originally, I wished to simply wander about in search of beautiful views of mountains and waters, and when I encountered a good view, I’d turn it into a poem, relish it, and boast of it to my friends. Yet I had no desire to take up a government post based on my writing skills. One day, I was suddenly faced with an event (Sejo's usurpation of the throne) that led me to the idea that it would be a shame for a boy born into this world not to serve in government if he were able to practice the Way, but that if he’s unable to practice the Way, the correct thing to do is just watch after himself.”

 In 1460 (Sejo 6), when he was 26 years old, Kim collected the poems he had written while touring the Gwandong region and compiled the Tangyugwandongrok. A few years later, in 1463 (Sejo 9), aged 29, he did the same for his verses written while traveling the Honam region, resulting in the Tangyuhonamrok. He participated in a project by King Sejo to disseminate Buddhist scriptures, living in the Naebuldang while serving as supervisor in charge of text correction, but he grew dissatisfied with the job and returned to Gyeongju in the spring of 1465 (Sejo 11) at the age of 31. Once there, he erected a mountain hut (Geumosansil) on Mt. Geumo where he lived in self-imposed seclusion. At this time, Kim used the pen name ‘Maewol’ for the first time. It was here, from the age of 31 (1465) to the age of 37 (1471), that Kim wrote poems, including Geumo Shinhwa, the first Chinese ‘novel’ written by a Korean, which he later included in his larger opus Yugeumorok.

 When King Seongjong ascended the throne, Kim returned to Seoul once again in 1471 (Seongjong 2) at the age of 37. It is said that Kim spent the next 10 years living in Pokcheonjeongsa(temple) in Seongdong and Surakjeongsa on Suraksan. In 1481 (Seongjong 12), at the age of 47, he married a woman name Ahn, but the following year, when the 'Queen Yun Incident' occurred, he left Seoul again and set out, as in is former days, on the path of a wanderer to the Gwandong region. During this period, he lived a leisurely life while touring various places such as Yangyang and Seorak. More than 100 poems written during this period are included in the Gwandongilnok. Kim wandered around aimlessly for many years, and the last place he visited was Muryangsa(temple) in Hongsan, Chungcheong-do. Here, he died in 1493 (Seongjong 24) at the age of 59. His mortal remains were cremated in the Buddhist style, and his ashes were collected and placed in a stupa in the temple.

 Kim Si-seup's writings include Maewoldangjip, Geumoshinhwa, Tangyugwanseorok, Tangyugwandongnok, and Tangyugwanhorok, and a portrait of the author (artist unknown) is housed in Muryangsa. In 1707, when King Danjong was restored to power (Sukjong 33), Kim was posthumously promoted to the Saheonbu, a rank of elite intellectuals serving the king. In 1782 (Jeongjo 6), Kim was posthumously awarded the rank ‘Ijopanseo(Interior Minister)’, and in 1784 (Jeongjo 8), the posthumous title ‘Cheonggan’. Later generations praised the loyalty of Kim Si-seup, as well as that of ministers Yi Maeng-jeon, Cho Yeo, Won Ho, Seong Dam-su, and Nam Hyo-on, as one of “the six loyal ministers”.

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