Managing the Health of Chosŏn Kings: Illness and Treatment in the Daily Records of the Royal Secretariat

In: Asian Medicine

The Sŭngjŏngwŏn ilgi (Daily Records of the Royal Secretariat) is one of the major chronicles of the events of the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392–1910). Although the records prior to the year 1622 are no longer extant, the remaining records from the years 1623 to 1910 meticulously recount the daily activities of the reigning Chosŏn kings, including copious information on their physical and mental status. Because the king’s health was considered as important as other official affairs in many respects, detailed records were kept of royal ailments and how court doctors treated them. This article surveys the state of Korean-language scholarship on the medical content of the Daily Records and presents selected translations to demonstrate how this valuable historical source can shed light on both the social history of Chosŏn medicine and the political importance of kingly health at the Chosŏn court.

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