The mummified body of a thirty-two-year-old disgraced nobleman, along with love poems written by his bereaved wife, was recently discovered in South Korea. The body, preserved for five hundred years, was buried along with thirteen poems and a pair of slippers reported to have been woven from the wife's hair.
The following is an excerpt from one of the poems, printed last week in National Geographic News:
I cannot live without you anymore.
I hope I could be with you.
Please let me go with you.
My love to you, it is unforgettable in this world,
and my sorrow, it is without end
According to National Geographic News, records indicate that the man was "the second son of a senior [government] figure involved in a revolt" to depose Emperor Yeonsangun of the Joseon Dynasty, a repressor of scholar-officials known as the Confucian literati.
The wife's story, however, remains a mystery. Experts speculate that, as threat of the emperor's retribution loomed, she and her child returned to her family for protection.
In the late fourteenth century, the neo-Confucianists dictated a change in burial practices, which had previously allowed bodies to decay without interference. The newer method involved placing the body on ice for up to a month and burying it in a pine coffin covered with lime soil, which inadvertently resulted in exceptional preservation. The body in South Korea was discovered in such a coffin.