Manduk refused to conform to the restrictions imposed by her deprived background, in an era of female suppression, and boldly paved a new path and created a new destiny against the unreasonable norms, thereby ultimately realizing her ideals.
Manduk already knew the commercial importance of ports, and she began trading by establishing Mulsan Gaekju, a merchants’ inn, at Geonip Port as soon as she recovered her Yangin (commoner) class.
Man-duk’s business principles
“Sell cheap, and sell many”
Man-duk followed her principle of “small profits and quick returns”, making large profits by selling a lot instead of going after small profits one by one. With her experience as a gisaeng, she sold clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, etc. to the gisaeng or women of noble families on Jeju for low prices, and made more money as she sold more product.
“Buy and sell at reasonable prices”
Man-duk traded at list prices, purchasing and selling at reasonable prices as a principle. Instead of seeking large or small profits, she consistently did business at prices that buyers and sellers could acknowledge as fair.
“Selling a trust in honesty”
Man-duk focused on credibility, making deals based on trust as a principle. She ran her business in accordance with the belief that honesty and sincerity are more important than money.
Manduk accumulated a great fortune but never turned her back on those in need. She practiced a frugal philosophy in her daily life of “during the year of a good harvest, one should save in preparation for a year of poor harvest, and affluent people should thank Heaven and live frugally in consideration of poor people.” She willingly donated all of her wealth to her starving neighbors, setting a true example of noblesse oblige.
Records of Manduk Saving Starving People
Il Seong-rok(Records of Daily Reflections)
Old gisaeng Manduk voluntarily donated 300 seok of rice. (1 seok = 144 kg)
Manduk-jeon (The Story of Manduk) by Chae Jegong
On June 6 in the 20th year of Jeongjo’s reign, Manduk donated a lot of money and brought in rice from the mainland. When boats finally arrived and were carrying sacks of rice, Manduk took a tenth of these to save her family and sent the rest to the district office.
Manduk-jeon by Lee Huibal
Manduk donated 600 buckets of rice that she had saved to relieve famine, thereby extending the lives of the entire village population by 10 days.
It is meaningless to calculate the 300 sacks of rice that Kim Manduk donated, during the severe famine, based on the current prices of rice. This is because each sack was priceless in that it went towards saving thousands of Jeju people dying from starvation.