In 1998, archaeologists in Andong City, South Korea to their amazement discovered the tomb of Eung-tae a man who lived in the 16th century. The mummified remains were a rare find for the time.
Eung-tae was unusually tall, even by today’s standards. He was 5”9 and well built with skin and beard still intact.
“The dark moustache made me feel that he must have had a charming appearance,” said Se-kwon Yim, former director of the Andong National University Museum. She was one of the first people to see him.
Even more astonishingly, the tomb contained a bittersweet letter from his wife, written after his death, and a pair of shoes woven from hemp bark and his wife’s hair.
In the ensuing 16 years after the discovery, the public’s fascination with this find shows no signs of abating. With an opera, two novels and a feature film inspired by the discovery.
To Won’s Father [Transcript]
To Won’s Father
June 1, 1586
You always said, “Dear, let’s live together until our hair turns gray and die on the same day.” How could you pass away without me? Who should I and our little boy listen to and how should we live? How could you go ahead of me?
How did you bring your heart to me and how did I bring my heart to you? Whenever we lay down together you always told me, “Dear, do other people cherish and love each other like we do? Are they really like us?” How could you leave all that behind and go ahead of me?
I just cannot live without you. I just want to go to you. Please take me to where you are. My feelings toward you I cannot forget in this world and my sorrow knows no limit. Where would I put my heart in now and how can I live with the child missing you?
Please look at this letter and tell me in detail in my dreams. Because I want to listen to your saying in detail in my dreams I write this letter and put it in. Look closely and talk to me.
When I give birth to the child in me, who should it call father? Can anyone fathom how I feel? There is no tragedy like this under the sky.
You are just in another place, and not in such a deep grief as I am. There is no limit and end to my sorrows that I write roughly. Please look closely at this letter and come to me in my dreams and show yourself in detail and tell me. I believe I can see you in my dreams. Come to me secretly and show yourself. There is no limit to what I want to say and I stop here.