I Reap a Long December Night (SA)


  • Catalog ID: S-491
  • First Line: I reap a long december night in its deepest place
  • Voicing: sa
  • Score: View Score
  • Sound: Listen


Cultural Context

Hwang Jini is a legendary female poet and performer from the Joseon Dynasty of 16th Century Korea—a time when women

were generally relegated to a lower social status and had limited opportunities for education and self-expression. Despite

these constraints, she rose to prominence, showcasing her mastery of the sijo form—a Korean verse form consisting of

three lines and totalling between 44 and 46 syllables—and earning widespread respect and admiration for her elegant,

expressive, and musical works which often dealt with themese of love and longing.

Her I Reap A Long December Night is one of her most famous sijos, known for its themes of love and separation. The poem

expresses the longing for a loved one during a lonely night, an uncommon topic for a woman in this strict Confucian

societal era. Hwang Jini is considered to be one of the greatest poets in Korean literary history and her works continue to be

widely read and appreciated today. Despite her humble background as a gisaeng—a woman trained to entertain in poetry

and music—she is remembered as a trailblazer who paved the way for women in the arts and remains an important figure

in Korean cultural heritage.

Benjamin Keast

Published 2024