Ballad of Seo Dong 서동요
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The “hyangga” 향가 poetry of the Silla period (57 B.C.-A.D. 935) signaled the beginning of the unique Korean poetic tradition. Recorded in “hyangchal” script (Chinese characters re-arranged for Korean sound and meaning) it is composed in four-line, eight-line or 10-line nursery songs and folk ballads. The 10-line poems showed the most developed poetic structure, divided into three sections of 4-4-2.
“Seodong-yo” (The Ballad of Seodong), which is the oldest extant hyangga, is a simple, four-line song whose lyrics tell the love scandal of Princess Seonhwa of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935). The song was composed by Seodong, a witty, sweet potato-seller in the marketplace in order to trick the king into disowning the princess. The princess later married Seodong, who later became King Mu of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-A.D. 660). The song was enjoyed for the next 370 years.