https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=1809essayA Thorn Hairpin Romance: The Wang Sibung giu gi <Introduction> The Wang Sibung giu gi (The story of a fortuitous encounter of Wang Sibung 王十朋奇遇記) is a tale written in Classical Chinese and included in the seventeenth century collection Sindokjae sutaekbon jeongijip (Collection of jeon­gi tales selected by Gim Jip 愼獨齋手澤本傳奇集) [1574–1656]. The collection was introduced to modern scholarship in 1955 by Jeong Byeonguk. The tale follows the marriage, separation, and reunion of a Northern Song (960–1127) couple, Wang Sibung, a talented man from a poor family, and Jeon Ongnang (Ongnyeon), a devoted woman from a rich family. Ongnang chooses Wang as her husband despite the poverty evident in his only betrothal gift, a thorn hairpin, which stands in contrast to a golden hairpin sent by Son Yeogwon, the scion of a rich family. (A thorn hairpin traditionally symbolizes the faithfulness of a couple amid poverty.) Son’s determination to marry Ongnang at any cost causes Ongnang’s initial separation from Wang, while later misunderstandings in communication drive them to believe each other dead. Nonetheless, their untainted faithfulness to each other, evidenced by their respective refusals to remarry, leads to their reunion, in which the thorn hairpin plays a pivotal role. The tale not only praises the unswerving love of the couple but also promotes an ethic that prioritizes virtue over mundane well-being, and the husband-wife relationship over relationships imposed by powerful others. The tale carries a strong moral lesson as the couple is repeatedly tested. Such themes and lessons would have appealed strongly to Korean readers while Ongnang’s chaste image would resonate with that of Chunhyang in the Chunhyang jeon (The Tale of Chunhyang 春香傳). The story itself is a Korean adaptation of the anonymously written Jingchai ji (The Tale of The Thorn Hairpin 荊釵記), a Chinese southern drama (nanxi 南戲) text, also known as an early chuanqi (romance 傳奇) play. Though written in the same format, Wang Sibung giu gi offers a very different read from the original Jingchai ji. Despite having the same main plot and character names, it presents the tale as a typical chuanqi tale, familiar to Korean readers at the time. For instance, it drops many elements seen in the original, including dialogues, direction, musical tones, song-poems, vernacular lexicons, etc. It also simplifies the arrangement of plots and characters, even omitting certain supporting characters and scenes. The removal of these Chinese dramatic elements would have helped Koreans in understanding the text by removing the barrier of cultural and linguistic differences. Korea did not have the same history and traditions for dramatic performance which, in China, had risen to high popularity during the thirteenth century and onward. Koreans’ appropriation of Chinese dramatic tales must therefore have necessitated the rewriting of the tales to suit the literary tastes of a Korean readership. The original author of this Korean adaptation must have been among the few who were versed in both chuanqi  literature and Chinese dramatic texts. In the hands of this anonymous expert, Wang Sibung giu gi was crafted into a well-rounded tale for Koreans, which most would not have noticed was a Korean adaptation of the Jingchai ji without prior knowledge. Apart from the dominant theme of the love and virtue of husband and wife triumphing over socioeconomic differences, physical distance, and the ill will of others, the tale poses questions essential to our understanding not only of the story but of its readership. The tale unquestionably embodies a uniquely Korean way of appropriating a Chinese dramatic tale which provides a clue to understanding the expanding reading and writing practices of late Joseon Koreans and the development of Korean fiction. I hope this translation will help readers to explore the treasured sea of Korean classical literature, in which subtle currents of culture and creativity meet, intertwine, and create new versions that appeal to different readers. <Wang Sibung giu gi - The Story of a Fortuitous Encounter of Wang Sibung> Wang Sibung1 came from the Taewon2 area during the Song dynasty.3 He was a noble man with a scholarly disposition. His father had passed away when Sibung was still young. After that, he lived alone with his widowed mother. Although he was poor, he was always high-spirited. His talent exceeded all others. A neighbor named Jeon Gongwon had a daughter whose childhood name was Ongnyeon. When she turned three years old, her mother died, leaving her in the care of a paternal uncle’s family. Her father was remarried to a woman whose surname was Choe, and lived with her. From early childhood Ongnang4 received a good education at home. She was very skilled at embroidery and learned both poetry and calligraphy.5 Her talent and beauty were extraordinary. She possessed a flowerlike face and her composure resembled the moon’s. She truly was one of the rarest beauties of the country. One day, Gongwon said to his wife, Lady Choe, “Although he is poor now, I believe Wang Sibung will become a great man someday. I want to have him as my son-in-law.” Lady Choe said, “Husband and wife is one of the cardinal relationships in human life. Yet you only see what you can see now: his talents. You have not thought carefully about the problems that will fall upon your daughter’s life with him in the distant future.” Gongwon replied, “My only wish is to find a good son-in-law and I believe I know how to select one. Whether he is rich or poor doesn’t matter.” Having failed to dissuade Gongwon, Lady Choe and Ongnang’s foster mother began preparing for the proposal, sending a matchmaker to Wang Sibung’s house to discuss the marriage. Delighted, Wang Sibung promised to send them a formal marriage request by the chosen day.6 When the day came, however, his poverty left him unable to perform the proper formalities. He sent only a marriage letter and a thorn hairpin to fix the wedding date. In the same neighborhood, there lived a man named Son Yeogwon, who had considerable wealth. Having noticed Ongnang’s talent and beauty, he too sent a marriage proposal to Lady Choe. Lady Choe spoke to her husband, “Whereas the Wang family lives in extreme poverty, the Son family is very rich. Why did you pick a poor man to marry your only daughter, knowing that the rest of her life could be burdened?” Unwilling to give in, she persuaded the Son family to send a golden hairpin and, showing it, again tried to persuade her husband. Her husband decided that he would present the thorn hairpin and the golden one in a cup together and ask his daughter to choose her future husband by picking one. Ongnang said, “Although Wang’s household is poor and the thorn hairpin is a lowly object, it arrived at our house first, so I regard it as something sent by my future husband. Son’s household is certainly prosperous and the golden hairpin is a valuable item, but it arrived later. Having already received a gift from the Wang family, accepting another from the Son family would be equivalent to serving two husbands. Our family would be disgraced beyond repair and draw sneers from our neighbors.” Unable to change her mind, her parents were very upset and sent their daughter on horseback to the Wang family well before the wedding day. From the day she arrived at Wang’s house, Ongnang worked diligently to fulfill her wifely duties and served her mother-in-law very well. Before too long, Wang Sibung set out for the capital city to take the civil examination. Son Yeogwon, although incompetent to take the exam, deliberately took the opportunity to travel with him. They stayed together in the same town before reporting to the examination place. Son did not pass, but Wang won first place. After three days of celebration and marching in the streets, Wang was appointed judge of Joyang and soon his fame spread far and near. Nearby, there was a minister who recognized Wang’s talents and wanted him as his son-in-law. The minister said, “I would like my only daughter to serve you as a wife. What do you think?” Wang rose from his seat to reply, “With the little knowledge I had, I was so fortunate as to pass the civil service examination. My first wife was always by my side during difficult times.7 I am not so heartless as to abandon her just to become a son-in-law to an illustrious family like yours.” Embarrassed, the minister did not speak of it again. When Wang was about to leave for Joyang, Son Yeogwon sent a messenger to him, requesting an audience. [When he met Wang,] Son said deceptively, “I am going to return home tomorrow. Would you like to send a letter home?” Delighted at the offer, Wang wrote a letter to his mother, which read: “[My Dear Mother] Your son was placed first in the civil examination and appointed judge of Joyang. My assignment begins on a certain day. I will dispatch some people and horses to help you and my wife move here. I will devote myself to governing my people and becoming a filial son. Your dutiful son, Wang Sibung.” Wang sealed the letter and handed it to Son. Son, after taking charge of the letter, forged a similar missive saying: “[My Dear Mother] Fortunately, your son passed the civil examination and was appointed judge of Joyang. I also became the son-in-law of a minister. Soon I will head to Joyang with my new bride. I will dispatch some people and horses to help you move here. Please come alone. Send my wife back home to her family. I do not wish to see her ever again . . .” Son enclosed the forgery in the original envelope and sent it on. Wang’s mother was both happy and sad to read the letter. Ongnang asked her mother-in-law what was troubling her. She replied, “As a mother, I am so thrilled to hear that my son became judge of Joyang after passing the examination. However, I am also saddened to learn that he has married another woman, taking her with him, and wants me to send you back to your family.” Ongnang said, “Ever since I joined this family, I have devoted myself to the household and to you. I diligently fetched water and ground grain in the mortar with my own hands. With a faithful heart, I kept you warm during the winter and cool during the summer while treating you to delicious food.8 My husband and I promised that we would grow old together and swore an oath that we would be buried in the same grave.9 After all that, how could he just leave me, breaking off our relationship?” Her mother-in-law could not find it in her heart to leave Ongnang behind to join her son. Ongnang’s parents soon heard the news. They condemned their son-in-law’s words, exclaiming angrily, “Although he was knowledgeable and well versed in writing, our poor son-in-law would not have been able to afford to take the civil examination if our household had not paid for his lodging in the capital city and all the extra expenses of travel. Indeed, it is our support that allowed him to pass the civil examination. Nonetheless, his haughtiness has led him to become the son-in-law of a minister. His cruelty is indescribable!” And they took a coach to bring Ongnang back to their house. They admonished Ongnang, saying, “Your husband married another woman from an influential family and broke off his marriage with you. How could he leave you so harshly?” Ongnang said, “Although my husband is without achievements or good deeds, I don’t believe he is capable of breaking my heart so harshly. No, this could not possibly have been his own idea. I suspect that some deceiver has come between us and is scheming to tear us apart.” Her parents spoke, “Mr. Son also returned from the capital city. Surely, he knows the truth,” and they went to inquire. Son’s information was, of course, consistent with the content of the letter. Her parents soon returned and said to Ongnang, “Son’s words were in agreement. The letter speaks none other than the truth.” Son was a sly and manipulative man. He next gave Lady Choe a large bribe to take his part. She told her husband, “Wang is already remarried to another woman and he clearly indicated in the letter that he did not wish to see Ongnang ever again. Perhaps, we should ask Son to become our son-in-law. That way, we can make Wang feel ashamed, and Ongnang will have someone to depend on. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” Ongnang’s father listened attentively. Soon after, while gently consoling her, he suggested to Ongnang that she marry Son. Ongnang responded, “According to Wang Chok,10 a loyal subject does not serve two kings, and a chaste wife does not marry a second husband. That is how I should live. I cannot decide to remarry solely on the grounds of a letter that is so hard to believe. Besides, I never saw the letter and cannot be certain it was truly sent by my husband.” But her parents were determined to have Son as a son-in-law. Unable to resist their will, Ongnang eventually lied, pretending to agree, “How can I defy my parents’ wish?” Her father trusted her words and picked a day for the wedding. On the wedding night, Ongnang took a bath, changed her clothes, and sat elegantly upright in the bridal room, careful to draw no suspicion. [At the first opportunity, however,] she snuck out of the room and disappeared. Her family and their servants anxiously searched the nearby mountains and waters. On the second day, they found Ongnang’s shoes abandoned on a riverbank lush with red smartweed. They concluded that Ongnang must have jumped into the river to her death but, search as they might, they couldn’t locate her body. The whole household lamented. On the same day when Ongnang was believed to have leaped into the river, a man named Jeon Jaha was appointed as prefect of Bokju.11 That evening, traveling with his family, he anchored his ship to the riverbank. As he dozed on the bow, he had a short dream. In his dream, a figure descended from heaven and spoke to him, “Tonight, a woman will come here to jump into the river. In your former life, she was your daughter. You must save her and look after her.” Before Jeon Jaha could ask a single question, the figure vanished. Yawning and stretching, Jeon Jaha woke from his dream. Suddenly, he heard the sound of someone splashing into the river. He quickly cried out to the skipper to pull the person out of the water. It was none other than Ongnang [chilled and unconscious]. They called for her to be quickly stripped off her wet garments and dressed in new dry clothes. A brazier was brought in to warm her and warm wine soup was gently poured into her mouth to improve her blood circulation. After a while, Ongnang regained consciousness. Jeon Jaha asked his wife to inquire about her name, place of residence, and reasons for jumping into the river. Ongnang replied, “I am the daughter of Jeon Gongwon, who lives in Taewon, and the wife of Wang Sibung. Last month, my husband was appointed to be judge of Joyang and prepared to move from the capital city to his new post. A vicious man in our neighborhood seized the opportunity and tried to force me to be his wife. I could not become a mate to an animal [a dog or a pig] so, deciding that I would rather be eaten by fish, I leaped into the river.” Her words broke Jeon Jaha’s heart. He sent one of his underlings to Joyang to investigate. Arriving at the outskirts of Joyang, the man saw a funeral procession with a red banner resting by a riverbank. The banner read, “The Coffin of Judge Wang of Joyang.” He accosted a servant walking with the procession and inquired. The servant told him that the judge had been struck with illness and died shortly after arriving at his new post. Without looking into the matter further, Jeon’s underling assumed that Wang Sibung had died and hastily returned to report his discovery. Ongnang accepted the grievous news without a moment’s doubt and sank into despair. She became pale and her heart was crushed. Overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, she began to fade into death. Jeon Jaha brought her bowls of rice porridge and encouraged her to eat so that she could regain strength. He took her with him to Bokgeon,12 where he continued to look after her and soon became very fond of her. One day, Ongnang asked Jeon Jaha, “A long time has passed since my husband’s death, but I have yet to offer a memorial service or a cup of wine before his spirit. I would like to perform a ritual for the dead to ease his passage to eternity.” Jeon Jaha secretly thought the ritual was a foolish practice from a heterodox religion but chose to allow it because he did not want to break her heart.  Ongnang took incense and went to the Temple of Gilsang to prepare for the ritual. While she was there, a governor of Bokju was also at the temple, holding a ritual for his deceased wife. Ongnang glimpsed him through the curtains and thought he resembled her husband Wang Sibung. After performing the ritual, she returned home and talked quietly with her maid, “The official performing the ritual at the temple today very much resembled my husband.” Jeon Jaha happened to hear their conversation on his way to the outhouse. Later, he summoned Ongnang and asked about what she said. Ongnang replied, “When I was at the temple, I happened to see an official who looked something like my deceased husband. I only brought it up casually. I did not mean it any other way.” Struck by her unusual encounter, Jeon Jaha dispatched a subordinate to Bokju to find out the name of its governor. The man returned and reported, “Wang Sibung currently serves as governor of Bokju.” Jeon Jaha soon brought together all the governors and magistrates of nearby towns. As wine was served the gathered guests talked pleasantly with one another. However Wang Sibung, with a broken heart and a sad countenance, did not mingle with the crowd. Jeon Jaha asked Wang Sibung, “What was your post prior to coming to Bokju?” Wang replied, “I was fortunate enough to pass the civil examination and was posted in Joyang to serve as a judge. Shortly after, I was reassigned and Wang Jagong came to replace me. Sadly, Wang Jagong was struck with illness and passed away within a month after his appointment, while I came here to serve as the prefect of Bokju.” Jeon Jaha then asked, “Regarding your wife, of what illness and where did she die?” Wang Sibung explained, “I am originally from Taewon. I married the daughter of Jeon Gongwon, who lived in the same village. Last year, I went to the capital city to take the civil examination and passed. I was immediately appointed as judge of Joyang. Later, when I was assigned to Bokju, I brought my mother there so that she could stay with me. My wife however, stayed behind at her family’s house. Under mysterious circumstances, she threw herself into a river and died. I sent people to search along the river for her remains. However, to this day, they have not been found.” Jeon Jaha went on, “What betrothal gifts did you send to the bride’s house with your marriage proposal?” Wang Sibung replied, “I was too poor to meet the formalities. I sent only the thorn hairpin that belonged to my mother.” Jeon Jaha said, “Your wife is long gone and not coming back alive. I have an adopted daughter. Why don’t you marry her? She can attend to your needs and help to manage your household.” Wang Sibung said, “With the seas and mountains as a witness, my wife with the thorn hairpin and I made a wedding vow to be faithful to each other. She must have jumped into the river to honor that vow by her death. If I marry another woman, how can I face her again when we meet in the underworld someday?” Jeon Jaha said, “It is a great lack of filial piety to have no descendants. Without a wife, how can you have a son to carry on the family name and continue your traditions by paying tribute to your ancestors?” Wang Sibung abruptly changed the subject of their talk, looking uneasily to his left and right to convey that he had no intention of remarrying. [Encouraged,] Jeon Jaha drew out the thorn hair pin and showed it to Wang Sibung, saying, “I happened to acquire this object. Does it not belong to your family?” Surprise transformed Wang’s countenance. He exclaimed, “That is the hairpin that my mother personally sent to my wife!” For some time, he could only caress the hairpin and lament. The sound of his cries pierced the heavens. Finally he wiped his tears and asked, “How did you acquire this hairpin?” Jeon Jaha said, “Its owner is in the inner quarters.” As Wang Sibung finally realized that his wife was there, he almost fainted. Meanwhile Ongnang peeked through a slightly open window and immediately recognized her husband. She wept with joy. Reunited at last, the ecstatic couple felt as if they would go mad with delight. Ongnang told him first how she had felt during their separation, “Since my first day with you, with the thorn hairpin in my hair, I worked hard to achieve the three exemplary conducts13 and fulfill the womanly way every day of my life, diligently managing the household. We made a vow that we would enjoy one hundred years of happy marriage and wished to be buried together in the same grave. But how could you, a man who won first place in the civil service exam at the red terrace of the palace,14 and wore a tiger-shaped tally15at the pavilion of a bell,16 abandon your old wife, belittling the virtue and affection you had developed with her when you were poor and humble, and valuing more your affection for your new wife? How could you send your mother a letter to drive me out of the house so cruelly? Although my father, influenced by the cunning words of my stepmother, did not advise me to be faithful, it was not her words alone that caused the turmoil. It was primarily Son Yeogwon who played vile tricks on us. I decided to take the path of a precious pearl sinking into the deep sea to end my life so that I would not have to stand again before the silken [wedding] screen. The messenger sent to Joyang swiftly returned and reported your death. The news stunned me and tore apart my heart. I hoped to send your spirit to the underworld in peace, so I went to the temple to perform a ritual. There, I glimpsed someone who closely resembled you. I thought I was dreaming but wasn’t certain. Today in this government building, I am able to keep our old vow, as if meeting an old friend at the bank of the Xiang River.17 Remembering Jeon Jaha’s grace in pulling me out of the water to save my life, I feel I am indebted to him forever, just as I am indebted to my own parents for their love.” Clasped securely in each other’s arms, the couple cried until the day grew dark.  Wang Sibung, after hearing the details of his wife’s ordeal, thanked Jeon Jaha until he ran out of words to further express his appreciation. He lingered, enjoying their reunion, like finding the mirror of Akjang18 and the sword of Yeonpyeong.19  Next day, Wang Sibung returned to Bokju with his wife, but they routinely returned to greet Jeon Jaha three times on every tenth day. Ongnang said to Wang Sibung, “Let’s send some people with horses to bring my father, stepmother, and foster mother here.” Wang agreed. In the interim, however, the stepmother had gone blind and died. The foster mother had also passed away. Alone in his home, only Ongnang’s father remained. He was soon brought to Bokju. Thereafter, the couple served Ongnang’s father and foster father [Jeon Jaha] equally. [Time passed and] Wang Sibung had a number of sons. All of them later won first place in the civil examination. The household grew, generating many descendants, and the family name shone. People no longer even remember them by their names; they simply call them “Top Graduate Wang.” 1 This translation, despite the fact that the tale was originally set in China, uses the Korean readings of names and places that appear in the original text. Because the base text is a Korean translation of the Chinese tale that was circulated and evolved among Koreans, the Korean reading reflects a Korean savor and traces of Korean reading habits, evoking the cultural connotations which the Chinese names and places held among Koreans. The name Wang Sibung is drawn from Koreans’ conventional reading of the Chinese characters “Sipbung” (十朋) which appear in the Korean translation of the tale. Jeong Hakseong said “Sipbung” seems to have been read as “Sibung” among seventeenth-century Koreans because “Sibung” was closer to the Chinese reading, at the time, of the characters, “Shipeng.” 2 Taewon (Taiyuan in Chinese 太原) is a historic city located in Shanxi province, China. It was called Jinyang (Chinyang in Korean 晉陽) during the Spring and Autumn Period (771–303 BCE) and remained an important site in traditional Chinese culture.  3 Song (宋) China (960–1279). 4 Starting from here, the original text refers to Ongnyeon (玉蓮) as Ongnang (玉娘). 5 “Poetry and calligraphy” is a translation of siseo (詩書), which can also mean the Sigyeong (The book of poetry 詩經) and Seogyeong (The book of history 書經). 6 This sentence describes napchae (納采), the first stage in the traditional wedding known as “six marriage rites” (六禮), which consists of the groom′s family making a formal marriage proposal. 7 The original text uses the expression jogang ji cheo (糟糠之妻), which refers to a wife who endured the hardship of poverty with her husband while eating distillers’ dregs and husks. It also connotes a first wife who supports her husband before he succeeds. 8 These three expressions—”personally fetching water and grinding grain with the mortar” (操持井臼), “keeping your parents warm during the winter and cool during the summer” (溫凊之奉), and “treating them to delicious food” (甘指之養)—are commonly used in both China and Korea to describe the praiseworthy conduct of a virtuous wife and daughter-in-law. 9 The original text has traditional expressions for the companionship between husband and wife: “aging together for one hundred years (a whole lifetime)” (百年偕老) and “making an oath to be buried in the same grave” (同穴之盟). 10 Wang Chok (Wang Zhu in Chinese 王蠋) was a minister of the Qi (齊) state during the Warring States Period (ca. fifth century–221 BCE). He is known for his remark that “a loyal liege man does not serve two kings, and a chaste wife does not change her husband by marrying a second husband” (忠臣不事二君, 貞女不更二夫).  11 Bokju (Fuzhou in Chinese) is a city in present-day Fujian province. Later in the text, Jeon Jaha is described as the governor of Bokgeon (Geonswi in Korean Ëï倅) while Wang Sibung is mentioned as the prefect of Bokju (福州刺史) or the governor of Bokju (Bokjuswi in Korean 福州倅). To reduce confusion in the translation, I refer to Jeon and Wang by their names. 12 Bokgeon (Fujian in Chinese 福建) is a province in the southern part of China. 13 The original text has samjeong (三貞), a woman’s three virtuous conducts toward her parents, parents- in-laws, and her husband.  14 The literal translation of this passage is “winning the head of a dragon at the vermilion terrace” (捷龍頭於丹墀). The “head of a dragon” means “winning the first place in the civil service exam” (a top graduate 壯元). The vermilion terrace is an open, flat place (or series of steps) leading up to a palace hall. 15 “A tiger-shaped tally” is a translation of hobu (虎符), a typical token used by military officials as proof of authorization to command the army. 16 “Pavilion of a Bell” is a translation of ryeonggak (鈴閣), an official place or residence for soldiers to conduct military business. 17 The Xiang (湘) River (in present-day Hunan province) frequently appears as a place for missing and parting from friends.  18 “Mirror of Akjang” (Lechang in Chinese 樂昌) is a story about Princess Lechang during the Chen dynasty (551–389). When the Sui dynasty (581–318) invaded, Princess Lechang and her husband Xu Deyan were about to part. Her husband broke a mirror in two and gave her half as a token of their promise and a hope for reunion. Later, Xu Deyan happened to see a broken piece of a mirror, which led him back to his wife. Lechang’s mirror is a common trope for the reunion of a couple. 19 The sword of Yeonpyeong (Yanping in Chinese 延平) also represents the reunion of two treasured swords, called Longquan jian (龍泉劍) and Tai’a jian (太阿劍), which were discovered by Lei Huan (雷煥) at the order of Zhang Hua (張華). Lei Huan gave one sword to Zhang Hua, while keeping the other for himself. However, Zhang Hua predicted that the two swords would be reunited again. Later, Zhang was killed, and his sword disappeared. Soon after, Lei Huan also died. One day, Lei Huan’s son set out carrying his father’s sword. As he passed the bridge of Yanping, the sword leapt into the river and disappeared. He searched for the sword but couldn’t find it, seeing only two dragons intertwined together. This tale indicates the destiny of the two swords to be united. An earlier version of this translation appeared as “Paean to Marital Fidelity in Poverty: the Wang Sibung giu gi, Korean Romance of the Thorn Hairpin.” The Review of Korean Studies 22, no. 1 (June 2019): 405–26. Introduced and translated by Sookja Cho Associate Professor of Korean and Comparative Literature Arizona State University2022-06-14 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=1726essayGungnyeo: The Palace WomenGungnyeo, literally “palace women,” is a term referring to all women residing in the palace who were not members of the royal family. The palace also saw the comings and goings of uinyeo (female physicians) who worked in the medical wing (naeuiwon) and female seamstresses who worked in the royal tailor shop (sanguiwon), but these women themselves were not called gungnyeo. Instead, they were known as medicinal kisaeng or tailor kisaeng who commanded the highest status of all kisaeng (trained courtesans). Since they did not reside within the palace walls, they technically did not meet the criteria of gungnyeo. Strictly speaking, gungnyeo had to be officially decreed by the court to wait upon the royal family. In his book Ojuyeonmunjang-jeonsango (A collection of writings on various topics by Oju), Lee Gyu-gyeong further distinguishes between gungnyeo and gungbi (court slaves) by stating, “Typically, gungno (court servant) held the low-level court post of byeolgam while the gungnyeo fulfilled the role of ladies-in-waiting known as hang-a as befitted their status. Gungbi were known as susari, or in the common tongue, musuri (female slave).” And yet, it was not unheard of for female slaves residing in the palace to be alternatively known as gungnyeo, so it appears the two terms gungnyeo and gungbi were used interchangeably to a certain extent. As such, gungnyeo took on many tasks around the palace, such as the jimil nain who waited closely on the king and queen, as well as other nain who variously worked in the chimbang (sewing room), subang (embroidery room), naesojubang (kitchen for daily meals), oesojubang (kitchen for banquets and feasts), saenggwabang (desserts kitchen), sedapbang (laundry room), sesugan (laundry room for the king and queen), and deungchokbang (room for lanterns and candles). Crown Princess Hyebin is said to have overseen approximately thirty to forty sanggung (court ladies) and sinyeo (ladies-in-waiting), and since this was the number of gungnyeo who waited on a single crown princess, we can assume that the number of gungnyeo who waited on the king and queen was significantly higher.  A letter written by a sanggung in cursive hangul © National Palace Museum of Korea Recruitment and Promotion of Gungnyeo Gungnyeo were not hired on some set, regular basis; rather, they were recruited whenever there was an opening or when the court was being newly outfitted under new leadership. The postings weren’t typically advertised widely; instead, the court received recommendations and carefully picked from a vetted shortlist of candidates, often through word-of-mouth. In some cases, the queen or crown princess was allowed to bring their former female servants from their family home with them to the palace. In Hanjungnok (The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong), there are several passages that allude to the gungnyeo selection process. After the birth of Crown Prince Sado, a new royal hall was quickly put together for the young boy prince. In the process, King Yeongjo brought in the gungnyeo who formerly served under Queen Seonhui, the queen to former king Gyeongjong, to wait on the crown prince. This informs us that the gungnyeo were typically made to leave the palace if the royal person they served was no longer present or alive, and also that in at least one instance, the king himself selected the gungnyeo. Another interesting case involved the recruitment of nain to serve the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. For this role, the court looked to hire from among the daughters of court officers who held the position of byeolgam and those who held the higher promoted position of sayak. The book tells of how one Kim Su-wan, who held the post of sayak, reportedly attempted to prevent his daughter from becoming a gungnyeo by seeking to influence King Yeong-jo’s consort. This man had apparently worked to pressure the king’s own concubine to stop the court from selecting his daughter to work as a nain. In Hyebingungilgi (Palace journal of the Crown Princess Hyebin), there are records of one Kim Do-heung, a byeolgam of the court, who faked the death of his daughter Han-mae, a privately owned servant, to prevent her from going to work in the palace. For this misdeed, Kim was later punished. In another instance, Kim Seong-gyeong, who served as a seowon at Yongdonggung Palace, was purportedly punished for failing to prepare his daughter sufficiently for her role as a nain. These examples shed light on the common practice of hiring gungnyeo from among the daughters of low-ranking court officials, and show that at least several of them resisted and fought to prevent their daughters from working such positions. The Life of a Gungnyeo The life of the gungnyeo is well illustrated in the hangul descriptions found in Gungnyeosa (The song of the gungnyeo) that is assumed to have been written by a gungnyeo, date unknown. In the book, the typical attire of a gungnyeo is described as such: “Before each morning assembly and evening greetings at Jangchungak Hall within Mianggung Palace (residence of the King of Han Dynasty China), we are required to don long skirts that flow down from our waist, a well-adorned big wig for the head, along with a headpiece and ribbon that are pleasing to the eye.” The unknown author of the book goes on to describe the joys of palace life by remarking how “the always upright Sanggung Kim and the pure-at-heart Sanggung Lee called each other ‘sister’ and swore to be friends forever. In their excitement, they called me to join them as they banged on jade bottles as if they were drums and shared drinks aplenty as we danced and sang and had an altogether merry time.” However, the author also wrote of the sorrows of homesickness: “My parents and siblings live no more than 10 ri outside the walls of Hanyang, and yet I long for them during the day and dream of them at night enough to make my insides melt and quiver even if they were made of steel and stone. When, after much effort, I finally obtained a pass to visit my family outside the palace, I rushed outside, greeted my parents, siblings, and relatives, and stayed with them for a day, which was not entirely enough for us to catch up. Then, when our time was up and I had to return to the palace, I leapt up, clutching my pass in my hands, and raced back to the palace in a hurry while promising my family to see them next spring.” Married women could not work in the palace, which meant that gungnyeo were typically brought in as pre-teen girls who would be trapped inside the palace for the rest of their lives, but other than the grief of not being able to see their families and loved ones, they were allowed to share in the riches and luxuries of the palace. The women were also adept at entertaining themselves, so their lives must not have been all bad. At times, the gungnyeo threw their own parties; in Jeongjosillok (Annals of King Jeongjo), the king himself saw fit to ban the feasts of gungnyeo that were conducted outside the palace walls. “The gungnyeo were seen cavorting with kisaeng and playing loud music as they entertained each other on boats while being waited on by aengnye (common slaves) and other gungno (palace slaves), to the point that huge crowds gathered by the riverbanks. On extreme instances, the gungnyeo were seen entering the riverside pavilions and vacation homes of merchants; other obscene, lascivious conduct will not be repeated here, as to not give rise to more ugly talk.” This description shows that gungnyeo were known to entertain themselves in the company of kisaeng with music and rowboats, and enjoyed free access to the gazebos and summer homes of rich merchants. From this, it’s clear not only that the gungnyeo knew how to have fun, but also that they commanded a high level of authority. Some scholars have concluded that gungnyeo were not allowed breaks, but the accounts in Gungnyeosa show that the women were granted at least one sojourn a year outside the palace walls. We can assume that depending on the year or the king, gungnyeo were allowed time off in some, but not all, cases. What’s true was that the gungnyeo remained confined to the palace until their deaths, never being allowed to marry or be reunited with their loved ones, but that they somehow managed to carve out relatively prosperous and stable lives of their own within their community. A gungnyeo from the late Joseon period © National Folk Museum of Korea Perception and Status of the Gungnyeo Hanjungnok offers telling glimpses into the authority and influence enjoyed by gungnyeo in general, but in particular by the sanggung (higher-ranking gungnyeo). Lady Hyegyeong is said to have reminisced that Choi, her attending lady-in-waiting, who received her on the day she came to live in the palace, was “not one to be taken lightly, as she had a firm and thorough grasp of the history of the royal family and court etiquette.” Later, Lady Hyegyeong again remarked on the strict customs of Sanggung Choi. Once, when Crown Prince Sado was being unfairly scolded by his father King Yeongjo who wrongly believed that his son had drunk liquor, Sanggung Choi stepped up to defend the poor prince when no one else dared. None of the court’s ministers (jeongseung, panseo) dared speak up on behalf of the prince, yet a lady-in-waiting mustered the courage to do so. Sanggung Lee, who began her career as a nain and later became one of Yeongjo’s concubines, is said to have scolded the queen herself, Queen Jeongsun. When the queen’s family wrote the queen a letter criticizing Crown Prince Sado, she shared this letter with King Yeongjo. When she did so, the sanggung is said to have chastised the queen directly, saying that no queen had the right to criticize a crown prince. This incidence is a clear testament to the compelling authority of the court’s sanggung, who were proud bearers of the court’s customs. In the rapidly evolving whirlwind of political power struggles in the palace, the gungnyeo often found themselves swept up in the intrigue surrounding them, while at other times, merely observed what unfolded. In either instance, however, the gungnyeo always remained an important agent within the palace walls. It appears that they did not always have a positive view of the court’s power and authority. Kim Myeong-gil, known as the last sanggung of the Joseon Dynasty, concluded in her memoir, “Spending the entirety of my life—all sixty years—inside the palace walls, I have come to believe that most of the folks who call themselves royalty or nobility are in fact empty shells. Many of them spent their lives in humiliating comfort, degrading themselves even more than the lowliest commoners or kisaeng; such stories are too unfortunate to simply ignore.” One can’t fault Kim for waxing pessimistic as she had directly witnessed the fall of the Joseon court, but the fact remains that gungnyeo were key observers of those closest to power. Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim Jung Byung-Sul Professor of Korean Literature Seoul National University2022-03-10 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=1725essayGungwol: The Korean PalacesIn its most essential sense, a palace is where the ruler of a kingdom resides. Given this capacity, the palace naturally serves as the political epicenter of the land as well as its cultural touchstone. When ancient kingdoms first emerged in Korean history, palaces were built in many cities such as Gyeongju and Gaeseong, but the only city where the buildings remain intact to this day is Seoul, home to the palaces of Joseon (1392–1910), the nation’s last dynasty. Early in the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in the center of northern Seoul but it suffered irreparable damage during the Imjin War (the Japanese invasions of the 1590s). After it was left abandoned for nearly three hundred years, the palace was finally rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century. During the long hiatus, Changdeokgung Palace functioned as the main royal palace in its stead. Changdeokgung was situated within the same perimeter as Changgyeonggung Palace and both were collectively referred to as donggwol (literally, “eastern palaces”) for being located to the east of Gyeongbokgung. Meanwhile, Gyeonghuigung Palace (seogwol or “west palace”) was often used as the ancillary wing to Changdeokgung. Deoksugung Palace, for its part, served as the king’s formal residence for temporary stretches of time such as during the Imjin War or the later years of the Joseon Dynasty. Palaces were whole cities unto themselves. For the king, the palace was both his workplace and his living quarters; the cramped palace was also home to a substantial number of people, not least of which were the queen, the queen dowager, the princes and princesses, gungnyeo (female servants to the court), and eunuchs. The king saw to the affairs of the kingdom with the ministers and members of his cabinet who daily entered through the palace walls; in various other parts of the palace, a multitude of servants prepared ingredients, cooked meals, dyed clothing, and handstitched royal robes. Added to this, servants also raised dogs for medicinal uses in the naeuiwon (the medical wing of the palace), while some members of the royal family kept pets of their own (King Sukjong was known to have had a cat). Moreover, the palaces weren’t merely for the living. The living and the dead dwelled together within the same palace walls. There were many places outside the palace that were devoted to carrying out ceremonial ancestral rites (jesa), but the palace itself had quite a few dedicated spaces in which the royal descendants could pay tribute to the departed. Since so many people resided in the palace, the buildings also witnessed many deaths; furthermore, compared to commoners, the royals observed a relatively longer period of mourning and observed frequent ancestral rites and rituals. This necessitated a considerable number of halls and spaces given over to the ancestors, the most important ones being the jesil, binjeon, and honjeon. The jesil was a chamber used to prepare for the ancestral rites, and the binjeon was a place where the body of a deceased king or royal personage was kept for a customary four months before it could be entombed. The honjeon was where the kings’ shinju tablets (memorial tablets believed to symbolize the spirit of the deceased ancestor) were kept until the three-year mourning period was completed and then moved to Jongmyo Shrine (the queen’s tablet would be kept in the honjeon for longer until it could be accompanied by her king’s shinju upon his death). Today, the buildings and facilities of Joseon’s palaces are mostly recognized as ancient relics from a bygone era, but admirers can walk away with a deeper, and more colorful, appreciation of the palaces if they imagine the people who lived within their walls. Donggwol-do (Painting of the Eastern Palaces: Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung), circa 1830  © Dong-A University Palaces were also major literary spaces. Both the inhabitants of the palace and residents of the city proper devoted themselves to creating and enjoying works of literature. The palaces were often important backdrops to the literary works as well. The writings of the kings were collected and bound into books such as Yeolseong eoje (Comprehensive collection of poetry and prose by former kings), while personalities like Lady Hyegyeong—Yeongjo’s daughter-in-law and the mother of King Jeongjo—penned memoirs and other works. In Lady Hyegyeong’s case, she wrote a memoir known as Hanjungnok (The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong.) The kings, queens, and members of the court were the most voracious consumers of literature in Joseon society and enjoyed not just poetry and prose written in Sino-Korean hanja characters but fiction written in hangul as well. Feature-length hangul novels such as Yussi samdaerok (A record of three generations of the Yu family) that were devoured by women of the court including the queens, crown princesses, and other palace women, remain to this day a key influence in the history of Korean literature. Such books of fiction were well preserved and passed down by the people of the palace, giving us insight into how much these works of hangul fiction were appreciated in the later period of the Joseon Dynasty. As the cultural hotbed of the nation, the palace was simultaneously where many stories came together and where new ones were created. Everyone’s eyes and ears were directed at the palace as it was the seat of absolute power. Because it received such intense attention, the palace naturally became a popular setting for many literary works. There are quite a few works of literature that are set against the royal palace, but of these, I would like to introduce three that dealt with actual historical events that took place in the palace. Most literary works that are set in the palace deal with the power struggles that often took place within its walls; Gyechuk ilgi (Diary of the year Gyechuk), Inhyeon wanghu jeon (Tales of Queen Inhyeon), and Hanjungnok (The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong) are no exception. The first two works are closer in spirit to fiction, while the latter is a personal memoir. Gyechuk ilgi describes the events surrounding Queen Inmok’s confinement to Deoksugung in 1613, the gyechuk year. Queen Inmok was the second queen consort of King Seonjo; she had become queen after the first queen consort died without producing a son for the king. King Seonjo sired several children with different consorts, one of whom—Gwanghae—was specially proclaimed as crown prince for his service to the kingdom during the confusion of the Imjin War. However, when Queen Inmok went on to have a son, Yeongchang, Gwanghae became understandably concerned that his position as crown prince would be threatened as he was the son of a concubine. In Joseon society, children of concubines were afforded a status lower than the queen’s own issues. Gwanghae ultimately managed to be crowned king after Seonjo died when Yeongchang was still a child, but Gwanghae remained anxious about Queen Inmok and Yeongchang, whose very existence threatened to undermine his legitimacy. In the end, he had Queen Inmok confined to another palace and ordered the death of Yeongchang. Queen Inmok remained under house arrest until Gwanghae was eventually deposed by a coup d’état by Injo. These events were recorded in Gyechuk ilgi. Found in the later pages of the book is the statement—”And so the nain (female servants of the palace) has thusly written”—which led many to believe that the book was written by a nain who worked in the palace. However, these sorts of inscriptions were relatively common in works of fiction during that period; it would be difficult to attribute such a statement to a particular author. As such, Gyechuk ilgi remains a historical novel of which the author and date remain unknown. Compared to Gyechuk ilgi, Inhyeon wanghu jeon is a more fictionalized version of actual recorded events in history. Queen Inhyeon was the queen consort of King Sukjong. Sukjong, for his part, was completely infatuated with his concubine, Jang Hui-bin. In 1689, he deposed his queen and decreed Jang to be his new queen. This behavior on the part of Sukjong—kicking out his wife and naming a concubine as his new wife—was forbidden under law for the general public in Joseon. Later, Queen Inhyeon is reinstated and Jang is sentenced to death by poisoning. The drama surrounding the faithful wife and scheming concubine is a theme that overwhelmingly resonated with many readers, particularly women, not just in the Joseon Period but to this very day. It is not surprising, therefore, that the story of Queen Inhyeon has been adapted not just into books but also for both the small and big screen numerous times over the years.  While the authorship of Gyechuk ilgi and Inhyeon wanghu jeon are still unknown, Hanjungnok is a memoir with a clear author and date of writing. Lady Hyegyeong’s husband Crown Prince Sado was named the royal heir immediately upon his birth and was slated to be the next in line to the throne. However, he was killed while still in his tender twenties by his own father, King Yeongjo. Yeongjo ordered him locked him inside a rice chest where Sado, who was his only son, starved to death after eight days. Since the later kings of Joseon were all descendants of Sado, this event had explosive political ramifications. In old age, Lady Hyegyeong recorded the events leading up to her young husband’s death and the political drama that impacted her own family after the scandal, in an attempt to inform her family and later kings of what really happened. An excellent English translation of Hanjungnok was published early on, introducing the book to a wider global audience. As with the story of Queen Inhyeon, the events described in this memoir have also been reinterpreted in film and television versions for a wider audience. Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim Jung Byung-Sul Professor of Korean Literature Seoul National University 2022-03-10 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=607essayKorean Garden CultureAesthetics of the Korean Garden Traditional Korean gardens were constructed smaller than those in China or Japan. The basic principle of garden making was to follow the lay of the land. Koreans tried to minimize artificiality and reveal the natural beauty through their designs. In a letter to a friend, the renowned writer Bak Jiwon (1737–1805) compares ideal gardens to the calligraphic works of Wang Xizhi (321–361; alt. 303–36). He states, “One should lay out his garden with trees and flowers in as refined a manner as that used by Wang Xizhi to write characters.” In his cursive calligraphic works, the size of each character and the spacing between them were uneven yet still proper. Likewise, trees should not be planted in a uniform pattern but spontaneously. Yi Sibaek (1581–1660) was a state councilor who served King Hyojong (r. 1649–1659). He had in his garden a rare peony, which was imported from Luoyang, a city in China famous for its peonies. When the King sent a man to get the plant for the royal garden, Yi put on his official attire and stepped out into his garden. He dug out the plant and broke its stems. He said, “When the country is in a precarious situation, how could the king seek a flower, but not a wise official? I could not stand myself if I were to try and win the king’s favor with this flower, and in so doing drive the country to ruin.” Having heard of this, the king repented. During the early to middle period of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910), people did not take much interest in gardening or floriculture as a hobby due to the Confucian notion that seeking amusement in things would be harmful for achieving one’s moral development. Even if they planted flowers in gardens, they preferred flowers that were symbolic of Confucian virtues, such as the “Four Gentlemen,” i.e., flowering plums, orchids, chrysanthemums, and bamboos. This trend did not change until the middle of the eighteenth century when gardening enjoyed unprecedented popularity. Centered around the capital (modern Seoul), floriculture and gardening suddenly became popular. Jeong Yakyong (1762–1836), a leading figure of Silhak, often emphasized the importance of gardens and gardening. He commented that one should contribute to the family livelihood by cultivating fruit trees and specialty crops while at the same time following the taste for a gentleman’s life by growing flowers in a garden. He once wrote to a disciple, “A family would thrive if they dug up their rice field to make a lotus pond. A family would struggle to make ends meet if they turned their lotus pond into a rice field.” What he meant was that cultivating moral virtues through floricultural activities was more important than profit seeking. In another essay, he wrote, “Living deep in a mountain valley with nothing to do, I observe that flowers bloom and wither. This is enough to gain an insight into the world.” For him, floriculture was about finding the principle of life. He also expounded on growing peonies during his exile. While observing the flowers, a symbol of wealth and fame, he compared its life cycle to that of a government official. Instead of envying someone in high career, he pondered the transience of worldly success, and consoled himself in his exile. This time gardening was a source of energy that lifted him up in a difficult situation and showed him the significance of life. Because of this, he grew flowers wherever he stayed, trying to find the deepest meaning of life hidden within them. In his poems, he expressed the enlightenment he received from nature. The chrysanthemum was his most beloved flower. He grew eighteen varieties of them in pots in his yard. When the flowers were in bloom, he invited friends to come and appreciate them. The highlight of the gathering was watching the play of shadows the flowers threw at night. He and his friends would place potted chrysanthemums, one by one, on a table in front of a blank wall and from various distances and angles directed light from their lanterns at them to enjoy the changing shadows. This pastime was widely known as a way to appreciate exquisite scenes. He and his guests would gather to compose and recite poems about flowers. Moreover, whenever they heard there were beautiful blooms in someone’s garden, they would rush to look at them and hold a poetry gathering. Painting of Flower and Vessel Jo Seokjin (1853–1920) © Jeonju National Museum Horticultural Craze in the Eighteenth Century Gardening came into vogue in the eighteenth century and was a cultural phenomenon that defined the taste of the literati of the time. They were mad about flowers, each vying to plant the most spectacular flowers in his garden. They also collected books about floriculture. This craze was a leisure activity they could share with one another. Amateur florists in the urban area soon became professional, and numerous botanical books were published. This was an enthusiastic and even obsessive pastime. This craze, in a sense, can be understood as the effort of urban elites to pursue well-being and to improve their quality of life. This pursuit spurred the emergence of flower enthusiasts and botanical literature. Both had also existed in the earlier Joseon period. Kang Huian (1418–1464), for example, wrote Yanghwa sorok (A little treatise on floriculture), Korea’s first botanical treatise, and the eminent scholar Yi Hwang (1501–1570) composed numerous poems on flowering plums. But the situation in the late Joseon was a dramatic departure from what had come before. Many texts written during this period and afterwards focused on the delight literati took in elaborate parties organized for the appreciation of exotic flowers. The popularity of floriculture and gardening suddenly boomed among literati in the metropolitan area in the middle of the eighteenth century. If someone had neither potted flowers nor a garden, he was likely to be written off as “a person lacking in taste and style.” This change is aligned with the development of urban culture. Residents in the city were eager to improve their quality of life and get close to nature. Yu Bak (1730–1787), a connoisseur of flowers, wrote Hwaam surok (Essays from the floral hermitage). He built a house in rural Hwanghae Province and planted a variety of flowers in his garden, which he called the “Kingdom of Fragrance.” It was so named because it had an assortment of flowers blooming in turn all year round. Among the essays in his book was one titled “The nine ranks of flowering plants,” in which he classified flowers into nine ranks and listed five select species in each rank along with explanations about the characteristics, cultivation methods, and varieties of those flowers. So much did he love flowers that whenever foreign ships arrived, he would run to the local port to see if he could obtain exotic flowers. Fishermen in his neighborhood, if they chanced to find interesting flowers during their voyages, would bring them back for him. Sometimes Yu asked travelers journeying to China to bring back flowers. Many accounts of Yu’s life and his book gives a glimpse into the garden culture of contemporary literati. Yi Ok (1760–1815) also wrote an important book entitled Baekunpil (The white cloud brush) that shows the intellectual trends among the elites of the time. It contains many accounts about the flower trade, chrysanthemum varieties, and cultivation techniques. Kim Deokhyeong, a writer and painter of the eighteenth century, was more than a flower lover—he was besotted with them. Whenever he had free time, he would rush to a garden to paint them. He compiled his paintings into an album titled Baekhwabo (A painting catalog of various flowers). His contemporaries universally recognized the artistry of his paintings and were eager to obtain them for their own collections. Yi Deokmu (1741–1793), a literatus, was famous for his flowering plums made of wax and wrote a handbook on how to craft wax flowers. This was a rare instance because it was usually unacceptable for an elite man to write about such a petty matter. Yet Yi’s work was received with fanfare by Bak Jiwon and other peers. Many texts attest to the great zeal these elites had for gardening, which was more than a simple pastime. Their connoisseurship pushed the development of floral culture which permeated literati society in Joseon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Garden Culture and Design in Social Context The names of numerous gardens can be found in the writings of eighteenth century literati. Some gardens bore the owner’s family name such as Jo’s Garden, Oh’s Garden, and Yi’s Garden. Others were named after notable plants in the garden, for example: Flowering Plum and Bamboo Garden, Orchid Garden, Seven Pine Garden, and White Pomegranate Garden. In some cases, people named their garden according to its location or the intentions behind making the garden. This was a new phenomenon and indicates the surge of interest in gardening. In their writings, the literati provided vivid descriptions of gardens, enabling us to reconstruct the gardening and floricultural activities of the time. If someone could not afford a garden, he would create a garden in his mind and pen a short prose piece about it. Yu Gyeongjong (1714–1784) wrote “Uiwonji” (Record on a garden in my heart), in which he describes the garden he envisioned. There, he would plant various trees, flowers, and vegetables. In the morning he would water them and in the evening he would weed the cucumber patch. This was his way of expressing his aspirations to live such a life. Yu was not alone; many would reveal their yearning in writings about their imaginary gardens. The demand for plants experienced an explosive growth in tandem with the sudden and increasing interest in floriculture. The growing trade caused the horticultural market to expand and created a new vocation of flower-potting. Flower merchants operated their businesses in the southern and northern areas of the capital. They supplied a range of flowers and trees to meet seasonal demands. Moreover, in autumn, gardenias, pomegranates, camellias, and other flowers were transported from the southern provinces. Alongside the grain tax, they were carried to the capital area by ship and then sold to rich urban residents. Not a small number of professional florists were retired clerks. The pleasure of gardening landed them new jobs running nurseries in the northern area of the capital, mainly at the foot of Mt. Inwang and in such districts as Nugakdong, Dohwadong, and Cheongpunggye. They grew and sold flowering plums grafted to odd-shaped trees, potted chrysanthemums blossoming in three colors, or pomegranates with high-hanging fruits. There was no formal flower market, but horticultural trade easily thrived. At that time, most of the houses in the capital were small and thus potted plants were popular. Horticulturalists also specialized in certain plants. For example, we know that some exclusively sold rare flowering plums, while others specialized in potted pine trees. We know all these activities in detail thanks to existing records. Street vendors would cry out that they had chrysanthemums for sale, the most popular flower at that time. New varieties were developed, which were not listed in the flower catalogs, and brought to market. An old man with the family name Kim was said to be able to control the blooming period and the blossom size, producing flowers ranging from extremely large to tiny. He could even make black blossoms and mixed-color blossoms grow on a single stem. He kept these skills a secret; no one ever learned them. Horticultural techniques developed rapidly. Seo Yugu (1764–1845) authored Imwŏn kyŏngjeji (Sixteen treatises on agriculture), the most comprehensive sourcebook series in pre-modern Korea. As a part of the series, Yewonji (Treatise on floricultural skills), he compiled the extensive floricultural knowledge of the times, encompassing a broad range of skills such as sowing, grafting, watering, raised mound planting, potting, straightening branches, and fighting pests. He also addressed issues of timing for grafting, forcing, and dyeing flowers. Seo took particular interest in cultivating trees. In his Imwon gyeongjeji (Treatise on the Management of Rural Life), the monographic work Manhakji (Treatise on late learning) is dedicated to tree cultivation. His “Jongsuga” (Song on planting a tree) also offers a detailed explanation of the methods for planting trees. Gardening was promoted in the eighteenth century more than it had ever been before. The activity was widely spread among the literati and had a great influence on society. Indulging a love of flowers and pastimes, activities which once were taboo for compromising one’s moral principles, gained great popularity and centered around the capital area. This reflects a tendency to pursue well-being intertwined with the development of urban culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Translated by Soyun Lee Min Jung Hanyang University2021-12-10 00:09:15https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=606essayNujeong: Towers and Pavilions Painting of Segeomjeong Pavilion Yu Suk (1827–1873) © National Museum of Korea The Construction of Nujeong and the Scholar-officials in the Joseon Dynasty People of Korea today would probably find the word nujeong unfamiliar; but they would understand the words nugak (tower) and jeongja (pavilion) without difficulty. Nujeong is a word composed of the first letters of those two words. During the five hundred years of the Joseon Dynasty, towers and pavilions were built nationwide wherever there were beautiful mountains and clean water; many remain local attractions to this day. Even today, neighborhood parks are equipped with little pavilions, commonly called palgakjeong (octagonal pavilion) or noinjeong (pavilion for the elderly) where people can sit and rest while out on a walk. Towers are larger in scale than pavilions, elevated so that the floor, laid out with wood, stands one or more stories high above the ground. Walls and doors are installed on occasion to create room-like space, but mostly, towers consist of pillars and a roof, so that people can look out over the landscape from the inside. Octagonal pavilions have roofs that are octagonal in shape, generally with a square or rectangular plane and in some special cases with a hexagonal or octagonal, and sometimes even a cross or fan-shaped plane. Although the Joseon Dynasty is spoken of in particular here as the era in which towers and pavilions were built, such structures existed even in the days of the three Han states, dating back two thousand years. Their number, however, wasn’t sufficient to form a culture until the Goryeo Dynasty; hence, the focus on the Joseon Dynasty, when the construction and use of towers and pavilions saw an explosive increase. While Buddhism constituted the main axis of culture until the Goryeo Dynasty, Confucian ideas formed the basis of the principles for running a society during the Joseon Dynasty, with sadaebu as the main axis of power. The word sadaebu refers to scholars—sa—who had yet to take up a position as a government official, or who had resigned from government post, and officials—daebu—who were in charge of government administration. These scholar-officials were intellectuals who had mastered Chinese classics, men of letters, as well as government officials. Brought together by the philosophy of Confucianism and connected through academic and regional ties, they developed a society and culture of their own. Towers and pavilions were the places of their gathering. They served as venues for literary gatherings, where the men recited poetry; as places for conducting administration as well as holding banquets; and as command posts with a view from on high during war emergencies. But above all, they were places of gathering and entertainment, for an overall enjoyment of literature and the arts. Regional geography books, including the sixteenth century cultural geography book, Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (1530), mention towers and pavilions along with public offices while discussing the natural characteristics of a region, as well as the people, family names, and regional products. The number of towers and pavilions noted in these books comes to about eight hundred. Studies on towers and pavilions indicate that the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the greatest increase in their number, with nationwide construction but mostly in the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces. The fact that the regional base of the scholar-officials was in these two provinces can be seen in the number of towers and pavilions constructed there. It is understood that the foundation of a society centered around scholar-officials was laid out through the fifteenth century after the establishment of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392, based on which the culture of scholar-officials, centering around towers and pavilions, flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Just as European salon culture blossomed during the eighteenth century, the tower-and-pavilion culture came into bloom in fifteenth century Joseon. The Site of Nujeong Culture That Sang of the Wind and the Moon I devoted ten years to building my humble abode of three rooms One for me, one for the moon, and one for the cool wind No room for the river and the mountain—I shall enjoy them as they are The above is the second stanza of the three-stanza poem, “The Song of Myeon-ang-jeong,” about the Myeon-ang-jeong Pavilion in Damyang, South Jeolla Province. The pavilion was built by Song Sun (1493–1582), a military official of the early Joseon period, who returned home after leaving his government post the year he turned forty-one. The poem is a major work representing the Korean nujeong culture, revealing its essence. In the first line of the poem, the author states that the pavilion took ten years to complete—he must have put a lot of thought and effort into the process, including finding a site for the building and purchasing the wood. He calls the pavilion his “humble abode,” the original Korean word choryeo meaning a hut made of straw and weeds. The word gan in the original phrase, choryeo sam-gan (three-roomed hut) is a unit that measures the size of a building. It refers to the space between two pillars, about two meters wide. The phrase sam-gan indicates that the frontal view of the pavilion shows four pillars, and a width of about six meters. The owner of the pavilion, however, states that he will take just one of the small pavilion’s rooms for himself, and set the other two aside for the moon and the wind, his tenants-to-be. This is witty poeticization of the nature-friendly aspect of the pavilion, whose simple pillared structure allows in the cool, fresh wind and the bright moon. Song Sun finishes the stanza with the playful words that he will enjoy the river that flows in front of the pavilion and the mountains surrounding it as they naturally are, for there is no room for them in the pavilion.  Through such simple yet affectionate personification, the author describes the Myeon-ang-jeong Pavilion as a part of the natural landscape; then he slips himself into the poem as well, as the owner who enjoys the harmony of it all. In that respect, he has demonstrated the meaning of the phrase, “borrowed scenery,” used in explaining the aesthetics of Korean architecture. The phrase is used to describe how Korean architecture exists as a part of the surrounding landscape. Unlike Chinese and Japanese gardens, in which the landscape is artificially recreated by men, Korean architecture is designed so that a river flows in front of it and a mountain stands behind like a folding screen, so as to make the surrounding nature seem a part of the garden itself. Such building planning is commonly called bae-san-im-su (mountain in the back and a river in the front). Song Sun’s Myeon-ang-jeong Pavilion, too, is located in a spot where the surrounding mountains and river feel like a part of the garden, with the moonlight and the wind finding their way into the pavilion. It seems that there is no work that better captures the characteristics and culture of Korean towers and pavilions. Song Sun also penned the following poem using Chinese characters. Many a scenic spot lies in the southern province— Everywhere I go stands a pavilion with beautiful scenery.  I live a life of leisure in the village of Gichon, And you reside in Seongsan. Our families have been friends for generations And we come and go like a family. I may stop by on a horse any day So do not bolt up the pine wood door. Sigyeongjeong and Hwanbyeokdang  The two pavilions are like brothers now. The streams and mountains are bright as silk And houses, tile-roofed and thatch-roofed, are scattered like stars. Together we enjoy the beauties of nature As they do in the gardens of all the houses. But one thing saddens me—I miss the old man at Soswaewon For he lies in a grave covered with withered grass. This poem was written by Song Sun for Sigyeongjeong, a pavilion that belonged to Seohadang Kim Seong-won (1525–1597). The southern province spoken of in the poem refers to Jeolla Province. Song depicts the nujeong culture of sixteenth century Korea, saying that there are pavilions in all the beautiful landscapes of Jeolla Province. Sigyeongjeong, Hwanbyeokdang, and Soswaewon, which appear in the poem, are located at the foot of Mudeung Mountain to the east of Gwangju, Jeolla Province; Myeon-ang-jeong stands about twelve kilometers away to the north. Sigyeongjeong was built by Kim Seong-won in 1560 for Seokcheon Im Eok-ryeong (1496–1568), his father-in-law. It is told in The Chronicle of Sigyeongjeong that Kim Seong-won asked Im Eok-ryeong to come up with a name for the pavilion, which he did based on a story in the Book of Zhuangzi that tells of a man who was afraid of his own shadow and wanted to run from it, and whose wish came true when he entered the shade of a tree, upon which his shadow disappeared. The word sigyeongjeong means a pavilion where even a shadow stops for a rest. Hwanbyeokdang is a pavilion built by Kim Yunje (1501–1572). As the story goes, Kim, while taking a nap at the pavilion, had a dream about a dragon ascending to heaven from the stream in front of the pavilion; upon waking he went down to the stream and found a tall and handsome boy standing there, for whom he arranged a marriage with his granddaughter. The boy was Songgang Jeong Cheol (1536–1593), who served as the first vice-premier.  Lastly, Soswaewon was a garden created by Yang Sanbo (1503–1557), who decided to live a secluded life when his teacher Jo Gwangjo (1482–1519) was poisoned to death in the literary purge called Gimyo sahwa. The garden, as well as the pavilions within, such as Jewoldang and Gwangpung-gak, demonstrates an aspect of the Korean garden and pavilion culture. Just as Song Sun wrote poems about his pavilion and displayed his literary talent through the neighboring Sigyeongjeong, the scholar-officials of the Joseon Dynasty left behind records on the history of pavilions. Haseo Kim Inhu (1510–1560) wrote The Thirty Views of Myeon-ang-jeong and The Forty-eight Views of Soswaewon, and Jeong Cheol wrote The Eighteen Views of Sigyeongjeong, conveying their affection for the pavilions belonging to prominent figures of Jeolla Province. Jeong Cheol also wrote The Song of Seongsan, which sings of the beauties of the four seasons of Seohadang and Sigyeongjeong, comparing them to paradise and lands of enchantment; the nujeong culture, which flourished through literary men among the scholar-officials, is once again confirmed in the poem. Bubyeokru Pavilion, Banquet Hosted by the Governor of Pyeongan Province Gim Hongdo (1745–1806) © National Museum of Korea Stories Related to the Four Major Pavilions of Korea Pavilions, each consisting simply of a wooden floor and a roof, were built near mountains and rivers for people to stop and take a little rest; but with time, they evolved into forums for meetings and poetry readings held by the literary intellectuals of the Joseon Dynasty. Some of the poems written in Chinese characters, three-stanza poems, lyrics, and records composed in these pavilions were framed and hung there and remain as works of art. The more number of works by prominent figures hung in a pavilion, the more renowned the pavilion became. Such are the three major pavilions of Korea: Bubyeokru of Pyeongyang, Chokseokru of Jinju, and Yeongnamru of Milyang. The two pavilions of South Gyeongsang Province are of considerable size, with a frontal width of five gan, and side width of four. A thousand poems and prose have been written on each, which speaks of their fame. In recent years, Gwanghallu of Namwon is counted (instead of Bubyeokru, which sadly can’t be visited because of its location in North Korea) as one of the three major pavilions. These pavilions, however, are famous not only for their long history, great scale, beautiful paintwork, and the poetry and prose written about them. Each pavilion comes with a beautiful story about women of integrity that adds color to them. During the Japanese Invasion of Korea, Gye Wol Hyang of Bubyeokru aided in the beheading of the enemy commander; Nongae of Chokseokru cast herself into the river with the enemy commander in her arms, as a result of which both died. The two, called “honorable gisaeng,” added to the reputation of Bubyeokru and Chokseokru. Likewise, Arang of Yeongnamru faced death in order to maintain her chastity; and Chunhyang of Gwanghallu, despite her status as a gisaeng, consummated her love with Yi Mongryong, the son of the district magistrate. This Chunhyang is the heroine of The Tale of Chunhyang, the eternal Korean classic and the quintessence of pansori, or Korean opera. It was at Gwanghallu that Chunhyang and Yi Mongryong had their first encounter, as depicted in the following passage. Young Master Yi rushes to Gwanghallu on his donkey, and upon arrival he beholds a splendid house of beautiful paintwork with intricately patterned doors. He gracefully dismounts the donkey, steps onto the staircase, and looks all around . . . Chunhyang, the daughter of Wolmae, a gisaeng living in the town . . .,gets on a swing and looks at the mountains and streams in the distance flaunting their spring colors; her sudden ascent and descent are like those of a young swallow flying in the spring sky, or of the Vega star crossing the Ojak Bridge on the seventh day of the seventh month . . .; Young Master Yi, sitting high on Gwanghallu, looks at the mountains and streams to his left and right . . ., then at the greenery in the mountain in front of the pavilion; ecstatic in body and mind, he stares at the movements of the red and yellow sun through the leaves, his shoulders moving up and down and his hand above his eyes. This is the scene in which Yi Mongryong, who has come to Namwon, the place of his father’s new post—and who has abandoned his studies to enjoy the spectacular view at Gwanghallu with his servant—becomes besotted with the beauty of Chunhyang on a swing. After Yi returns to Hanyang with his father who has served his full term in office, the new magistrate demands that Chunhyang become his mistress; realizing her love for Yi, Chunhyang resists the magistrate in order to defend her love. This is a beautiful love story of two people who met at Gwanghallu and safeguarded their love for each other despite trials. Im Kwon-taek, a major Korean film director, adapted the tale into the movie Chunhyang (2000). An interesting point of fact is that the movie is a musical of sorts based on The Song of Chunhyang, a work performed by the master pansori singer, Cho Sang Hyun; in the movie, the acting corresponds to the songs. The movie allows the audience to enjoy on screen the love story of Yi Mongryong and Chunhyang along with the pansori, The Song of Chunhyang, as well as the beautiful scenery of Gwanghallu and a vivid look into the everyday life of the people of old Korea.  Chongseokjeong Pavillion, Album of Mount Geumgang in the Autumn of the Year of Sinmyo Jeong Seon (1676–1759) © National Museum of Korea The Joseon Dynasty and the Pavilions of Hanyang Pavilions were cultural and entertainment venues for scholar-officials, as well as a backdrop for everyday gatherings of ordinary people. Perhaps the love of the people for pavilions lay in their location, where rivers and mountains meet. Hangyang, the name of Joseon’s capital, means “a land north of the Han River,” the river that served as the lifeline of the people. Naturally, pavilions were established in scenic spots. A classic example is Apgujeong, a pavilion located in present-day Apgujeong-dong in Seoul, which belonged to Han Myeonghoe (1415–1487) who had control of the regime in the early Joseon Dynasty; another is Dokseodang, a pavilion on a hill north of the present-day Hannam Bridge, which allowed young civil officials to take a leave to concentrate on their studies; yet another, Huiujeong, which belonged to Prince Hyoryeong (1396–1486), the second son of King Taejong, on a hill north of the Yanghwa Bridge. Huiujeong means “pavilion of joyful rain,” and the following story is told in The Chronicle of Huiujeong, written by Chunjeong Byeon Gyeryang (1369–1430) at the request of Prince Hyoryeong: His Highness came out early to oversee the farm work, and stopped by at this pavilion and bestowed upon me liquor, food, and a saddled horse. Grain seeds were being sown at the time, but there wasn’t sufficient rain. As we became intoxicated with liquor, it began to rain all day, and His Highness named the pavilion “the pavilion of joyful rain.” Deeply moved, I had the Vice Chancellor of Royal College write the word “Huiujeong” in large letters and hang it on the wall, to honor the deed of His Highness; it is my wish that you set this down to record. The king who bestowed the name upon the pavilion was King Sejong, hailed as a good and wise king. This anecdote conveys the genuine joy of the king, who must have wished for rain as the ruler of Joseon, an agricultural society. The feelings of a benevolent ruler who truly cared for his people are fully conveyed. As told in the anecdote, kings came to the pavilion to inspect the administration of agricultural work, or the training of the naval forces that took place in the Han River. Byeon Gyeryang, who was asked to keep a record of the history of Huiujeong Pavilion, wrote the following poem near the end of his life, through which the warm sentiments generated by Korean pavilions can be appreciated. The new pavilion that stands there aloft Looks as though it will fly away like a phoenix. Who has raised it up? The benevolent Prince Hyoryeong. The king went out to the western outskirts, Neither for pleasure nor hunting. Concerned he was about drought in the fields, As the people sowed seeds of grain. The king was sitting in the pavilion When suddenly the rain came pouring down. The king and the prince held a banquet With drums beating loud and clear. On the pavilion the king bestowed a name, An honor unprecedented. Prince Hyoryeong bowed his head, Accepting the kindness of the revered king; The prince again bowed his head, Praying for the king’s longevity. The prince wished that a record be kept For the perpetuation of the tale; I bowed and did as commanded, Ahead of many scholars. I looked to the distance at Hwaak Mountain And pictured these words on its stone wall. This tribute, carved in stone, Will keep the tale alive for myriad years. Translated by Jung Yewon Shin Sang-Phil Pusan National University2021-12-10 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=113essayGagaek: The Idols of Premodern Korea Singer’s Pansori by Kim Jun-geun Genre painting from the Joseon period depicting a gagaek singing accompanied by a gosu (drummer) Image © Korean Christian Museum at Soongsil University   The world’s eyes are on K-pop idols today. Fueled by Hallyu or the Korean wave, K-pop started gaining popularity all over the world sometime around 2010. BoA was the first Korean singer to be listed on the Billboard 200 in 2009, followed by BIGBANG and G-Dragon in 2012. In 2018, BTS topped the chart for the first time in K-pop history. Wonder Girls were the first K-pop group to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2009, and Psy peaked at number two on the chart in 2012 with “Gangnam Style” and stayed there for seven consecutive weeks. CL and BTS put their names on the chart later, and in August 2020, BTS reached number one. The predecessors of today’s K-pop idols were the gagaek, or singers, of the late Joseon period. The gagaek who appeared in Joseon society around the time of King Sukjong in the late seventeenth century were professional or semi-professional yein (entertainers) who specialized in singing, and their status was mainly middle-class. Does that mean there were no singers before then? Not exactly. Regardless of the era, there were always people who were good at singing. But even if there were talented singers, they were not called by the name gagaek until the late Joseon period.   1. Who Sang When There Were No Gagaek? Since its founding, the Joseon Dynasty tried to realize a politics of ye-ak that would bring about harmony while abiding by its own code of ethics. Ye meant “order” and ak stood for “harmony.” Ye emphasized a distinction between classes and called for strict order between occupations, while ak contributed to maintaining harmonious relationships, which could otherwise become easily neglected because of ye. This was why the state controlled music in the Joseon Dynasty, to which end it established the Jangakwon (Bureau of Music). Official music used for the state or the royal court was played by akgong and aksaeng musicians of the Jangakwon, and songs were sung by ginyeo (female entertainers) or gadong (boy singers). They were state-appointed singers, so to speak, and they mainly performed court music at the royal court.   Ginyeo What about songs that sadaebu (scholar-bureaucrats) enjoyed at poetry gatherings, banquets, pungryu (arts appreciation) gatherings, and various feasts? In most cases, gwangi (women in charge of singing and dancing and instrumental music at the court or a government office) affiliated with a local government office, were mobilized to sing. An example of this can be found in Yi Hwang’s Eobuga balmun: “Long ago, there was an old ginyeo in Andongbu, who was good at singing. My uncle Song Jae (1469–1517) summoned her to sing songs to brighten up his sixtieth birthday celebration. I was still young back then.” Ginyeo belonging to a local government office were called in to sing for various kinds of meetings that sadaebu held. Besides ginyeo, affluent sadaebu households had gabi (a private maid talented at singing) to entertain their guests. Records show that Nongam Yi Hyeon-bo and Jiam Yun Yi-hu, the grandson of Gosan Yun Seon-do, employed gabi. If you thought about it in today’s terms, those families had a singer exclusively working for them.   Seongaja At times, sadaebu scholar-officials with a flair for singing themselves sang songs at pungryu gatherings. These sadaebu were called seongaja. Nogyeo Bak In-ro who composed a considerable number of mid-Joseon-period sijo and gasa poems was one such seongaja. Earlier than that, at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty and in the early years of the Joseon Dynasty, there was another sadaebu seongaja named Gong Bu (1352–1416). He passed the civil service examination during the Goryeo Dynasty and went into government service in the Joseon Dynasty as well. He visited China six times in his official capacity as seojanggwan (censor-secretary). As his pen name Eochon (meaning “fishing village”) testifies, even while serving as a government official, Gong Bu yearned for the life of fishermen who were not swayed by material desires. He was said to be good at singing “Eobuga.” Meanwhile, Heo Gyun’s Seongongjisorok recounts an episode from the life of scholar Yi Eon-bang who was a talented singer during the reign of King Myeongjong. According to the anecdote, the melody of Yi’s singing was clear and high and no one could match him in singing. People who listened to his song were said to be so moved that they shed tears. When he visited Pyeongyang, the governor had two-hundred ginyeo from the gyobang training halls sit in a row along the street and sing songs in turn. Yi Eong-bang responded to each song with a song of his own, and all their voices were harmonious and smooth. On hearing of him, Hwang Jini, a renowned gisaeng of Songdo, paid him a visit. Yi posed as his younger brother, saying, “My brother is not home, but I am a pretty good singer myself.” Then he performed a song. Hwang Jini immediately realized that he was Yi Eon-bang, and said in admiration that he had an incomparable voice that no gifted singer in China could match. Hwang Jini was able to recognize his talent as she herself was an incredible singer.   2. Emergence of the Gagaek There were several socio-historical prerequisites for the emergence of gagaek. First, there had to be outstanding musicians. Songs require instrumental accompaniment, so naturally there had to be excellent instrumentalists. As mentioned above, until the early Joseon period, all professional musicians were affiliated with the Jangakwon state institution and they developed their skills through intensive training. But they were poorly treated and couldn’t pursue their own individual music because they were only allowed to play selected songs for ceremonies or rites. After Imjinwaeran (Japanese invasion in 1592) and Byeongjahoran (Manchu invasion in 1636), the aksa (musicians) of Jangakwon continued their musical activities outside the court and among the public. Thus, outstanding musicians came to be active both at the court and in the private sector . Second, there had to be a popular artistic environment and people who consumed music. In the late Joseon Dynasty, not only did a commodity-money economy develop but Joseon rapidly urbanized around the capital of Hanyang. Under these circumstances, songs as works of art were put into circulation as commodities. Affluent jungin (middle class), and gyeongajeon (clerks in the capital) in particular, emerged as consumers of art, and some yangban who had excellent artistic taste became patrons of artists. Gagaek emerged in this social environment. They were responsible for the creation of the pungryubang, or performance rooms, where music lovers gathered to enjoy songs and music. Its members were gagaek and aksa. Gagaek were professional singers who were proficient in vocal music such as gagok, gasa, and sijo. On the other hand, geomungo (Korean plucked zither) players who played accompaniment to gagok, or instrumental pieces such as the Korean court music repertoire Yeongsan hoesang were called geumgaek. These gagaek and aksa led the culture of pungryubang performance rooms. What were the life and artistic activities of gagaek like? Fortunately, biographies that record the lives of some gagaek have survived. The following is an excerpt from Noraeggun Songsilsoljeon (A story of singer Song Sil-sol) written by Yi Ok, a writer during the era of King Jeongjo, which summarizes the life of gagaek Song Sil-sol.   Song Sil-sol was a Seoul gagaek who got his name from a song called “Silsolgok” (Song of a cricket) that he sang extremely well. When he was young, he used to practice singing next to a roaring waterfall. After a year, the sound of the waterfall couldn’t drown out the sound of his singing. After he spent a year atop Mount Bugaksan, the sound of the whirlwind could not disturb his song. If he sang in a room, the sound vibrated along the crossbeams; if he sang in the mountains, it reverberated amongst the clouds. His voice harmonized with every instrument. When he sang in front of a crowd, the audience stared into space, unable to make out who the gagaek was.   From the above passage, we can see that Song Sil-sol underwent strenuous training to become a professional gagaek. When his singing defeated the sounds of waterfalls and whirlwinds, he became a true gagaek. Once established as a gagaek, he pursued his own creative form of singing. When singing “Chuiseunggok” or “Hwanggyeosa,” he did not sing along with the original music score; instead he freely improvised. He is said to have even wailed at a wake in the form of a song. All this shows that he pursued a relentless and infinitely free artistic vision.   Next is “Songosa” from Chujaejip by poet Jo Su-sam:   Son the Blind had no talent in fortune-telling, but he was good at singing gagok. He was highly proficient in ujo (the highest note of the Korean pentatonic scale), gyemyeonjo (A-minor), rhythm, pitch, and the 24 seong (notes). Every day he sat in the street and sang in both loud and thin voices. And when he reached the climax, the audience surrounded him like a wall and the coins they threw at him showered down like rain. He would then swipe them up and when he figured he had collected around 100 jeon, he would stand up, saying, “This will be enough for me to get drunk.”   The Joseon government allowed for the blind to tell fortunes as a form of welfare. But Son the Blind preferred singing to fortunetelling and became a professional gagaek. It seems that he mostly sang songs on the street, which can be likened to busking today. Whenever he sang, the audience “surrounded him like a wall and the coins they threw at him showered down like rain.” This proves how popular he was and how songs were sold to the public as commodities.   3. Noted Gagaek from the Late Joseon Period and their Songs Gagaek have a bigger role in the history of Korean literature than just professional singers. They not only composed remarkable songs but also published gajip, which were compilations of sijo that had been passed down for generations. They realized the precious value of Korean songs and kept records of them out of concern that they might be lost if they were only passed down orally. As a result, excellent gajip such as Cheongguyeongeon, Haedong gayo, and Gagokwollyu were created.   Kim Cheon-taek Kim Cheon-taek who compiled Cheonguyeongeon (the original version) was a pogyo constable during the reign of King Sukjong. Jeochon Yi Jeong-seob said this of Kim in his Choengguyeongeon hubal: “Kim Cheon-taek is a man of good character and knowledgeable and he memorized 300 works from the Sigyeong [The book of odes] with ease, so he is not just a singer.” Judging from this, not only was Kim Cheon-taek a gifted singer but he also had a scholarly temperament along with great knowledge. Jeong Yun-gyeong praised Kim in Cheongguyeongeon huseo: “Kim Cheon-taek makes the entire kingdom cry with his singing. He has a precise sense of rhythm and has cultivated literary accomplishments.” The following is a sijo composed by Kim Cheon-taek:   White seagull, let me ask you something. Don’t be alarmed. Where are all the famed places, splendid lands that have been abandoned? If you tell me in detail, we can go and spend time together there.   This sijo, which takes the form of a conversation with a white seagull, has a nature-friendly theme. The narrator asks the seagull where the wonderful natural places are, the beautiful places that have been abandoned. These places are in clear contrast to political spaces that covet riches and honors. He says he will live amidst the beauty of nature together with the seagull if it tells him where the places are located. His desire is similar to what sadaebu scholar-officials aimed to achieve. That is, to restrain the desire for a government post and to lead a pure and innocent life by becoming one with nature. However, if we look at it differently, we can discover another layer of meaning of Kim’s identity. Because the chances of status advancement were limited for a member of the jungin middle-class, Kim rather resignedly chooses to live in nature.   Kim Su-jang If Kim Cheon-taek’s writing contained a conflict of social status as well as a sadaebu orientation, then Kim Su-jang—another gagaek who also came from the middle class, worked as a military clerk at the Ministry of Military Affairs, and compiled Haedong gayo—was straightforward and broad-minded. Regarding Kim Su-jang, who is believed to have been active a generation after Kim Cheon-taek, Jang Bok-so said this in Haedong gayo huseo: “He truly is a heroic man of virtue in this world full of woes and cares. He has inherited the tradition of singing and his mind and spirt are uncorrupted.” He was heroic, manly, and also appreciated the arts at the same time. Kim Su-jang was a gagaek who strived only for singing, and his performances were more urbanized and entertaining than that of Kim Cheon-taek. Here is a piece of saseol sijo (long-form narrative sijo) that he wrote:   Do you not know who I am, the Jeolchungjanggun (Jeong-3-pum military official) Yongyangwi (a military division) Buhogun (Fourth Deputy Commander)? I might be old, but I never was one to come second to anybody in singing, dancing, and going on trips across the south and the north of Hangang (Han River). There is no place for pungryu with blossoming flowers in the capital that I have not been to. Woman, you may underestimate me, but spend a night with me and you will know I am a man among men. This is a saseol sijo in which the narrator, Kim Su-jang, delivers a message to a ginyeo. It seems that a ginyeo has scorned Kim for being old. But this doesn’t dent Kim’s confidence. He says he might be old, but he is still confident of his singing and dancing, and that he has been to every remarkable place for pungryu in the vicinity of the capital of Hanyang. He assures her that if any woman spent a night with him, she would appreciate his true worth as a man of arts. If Kim Cheon-taek hovered on the edge of sadaebu culture, Kim Su-jang pioneered his own world as a jungin (upper middle-class) and an artist. Despite his meager living, he built Nogajae in Hwagae-dong, Seoul at the age of seventy-one, and oversaw Nagajae gadan, an organization of gagaek. As the center of the music scene at that time, the organization was considered to have contributed to the literary development of sijo and gagokchang.   An Min-yeong An Min-yeong who compiled Gagokwonryu was one of the representative nineteenth-century gagaek, along with Bak Hyo-gwan, his mentor. An learned how to sing from Bak and beautifully refined his lyrics. He also built relationships with the royal family including the Daewongun (1820–1898), and was a patron of numerous gisaeng. Geumokchongbu (1885), An’s personal anthology, confirms that he was a man of taste who artistically interacted and had romantic liaisons with a number of ginyeo all over the country. Quite a few of An’s sijo feature ginyeo with whom he had a relationship.   Don’t scold the limping donkey when I part with you For how else could I get a close look at your tearful face under the blossoms when I bid you farewell and turn away, if not for those limping steps?   People are overcome with sorrow when they part with a loved one. They would do anything to delay the parting and gaze upon their beloved’s face. With this wish, the person who leaves expresses his gratitude towards the limping donkey. According to the appendix of this work, the person left behind in this song was ginyeo Hyerani. She was a renowned ginyeo in Pyongyang. She was not only beautiful, but excelled at painting, singing, and playing the geomungo. This song was composed when An left Hyerani after spending seven months with her in Pyeongyang. It delicately depicts the sorrow of their parting.   The gagaek we have looked at above mostly excelled in gagokchang. One of the gagaek who had an outstanding talent for sijochang was Yi Se-chun. However, in the nineteenth century, japga (popular folk songs), which developed among the commoners, prevailed over gagokchang and sijochang with its unique lively musical sensibility and captivated people of all classes. That led to gifted singers of japga to become famous. New masterly singers emerged, such as Chu Gyo-sin, a renowned singer of Gyeonggi japga, Jo Gi-jun who excelled at 12 japga, and Bak Chun-gyeong, a farmer who developed japga further. Japga is widely considered as the actual beginning of popular music in the history of Korean music. Whereas Gagokchang had its origins in the music of sadaebu scholar-officials, Japga, which started as a music of the common people and later swept the royal court, became the music of the entire kingdom. But japga, hwimori japga in particular, had lyrics that originated from saseol sijo, so they were not completely unconnected to sijo. Considering all this, if you look at the origins of modern singers in the popular sphere, the renowned singers of japga would be their predecessors. Also, if you look at them in terms of professional singers whose livelihood was singing, gagaek would be their predecessors.     Translated by June Yun   Lee Hyung-dae Korea University   2021-10-05 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=114essayNobi: Fettered for Life Nobi Ownership Paper A sale record from the fourth month of the Year of the Rat (1780 or 1840) showing that a woman named Park Sahae, who was in dire straits after the death of her husband, sold her daughter, Ssangrye, as a nobi. Image © Woori Hangul Museum   1. Lasting Notions and Impressions of Nobi in Korean Society The word nobi is a combination of two sinographs: no meaning a male servant and bi meaning a female servant. Nobi were people who were owned by and lived in servitude to other people. This system of slavery continued in Korea from the Three Kingdoms Period to Unified Silla to Goreyo all the way to the Joseon period. Historical studies estimate that the nobi accounted for 30 percent of the Joseon population, which is no small number. This suggests that the nobi were an indispensable element in maintaining premodern Korean society. Slavery was officially abolished during the Gabo Reform (1894), which proclaimed the modernization of Joseon, but it continued to exist, in rare cases, even up to the Korean War (1950–1953). The nobi are similar to slaves, one can say, as both were subordinate to their master. But given that the nobi were allowed to have their own families and personal property, they differ from slaves of the ancient Roman Empire. Also, the nobi are often considered equivalent to the serfs of medieval Europe in that both were mostly engaged in farming. Strictly speaking, however, they are different as the nobi were not entitled to land ownership. Nobi were similar or different to slaves or serfs depending on the situation of the period in which they existed. And here we have another category to consider: meoseum (farmhand), who were often mistaken for nobi as they, too, served their master providing labor. Called gohan, or gogong (paid worker), they were, in fact, a kind of employed worker who received annual payment called saegyeong. Unlike the nobi, they were able to choose their masters and enjoyed more freedom than nobi. After the nobi system was abolished in the late Joseon, some of them became meoseum in the early modern period.   2. Institutional Origin of the Nobi and Related Regulations As the nobi class was basically hereditary, there were economic disputes among their masters over the status of offspring between nobi and commoners. There was no problem with offspring whose parents were both nobi, but when either of them was a commoner, the offspring’s status could be different depending on which side they followed. For this type of circumstance, a law was created which favored the mother’s status as, in many cases, it was much easier to identify the mother  than the father; the law resulted in an increase in their masters’ wealth when their privately-owned female nobi had children. Thus, marriage between nobi and commoners was in principle prohibited but this was not observed practically. Later, with the social class system in disarray, the owners even encouraged marriage between male commoners and female nobi. To curb the resultant increase in the nobi population, the Joseon government enforced a law requiring offspring between male commoners and female nobi to follow their father’s status. Later, a law was enacted which returned nobi who had been freed by paying a ransom or for other reasons to their former class. In the late Joseon period, the nobi laws were supported or rejected by officials belonging to different political factions. For example, when the Westerners (seoin) prevailed, nobi whose fathers were commoners obtained commoner status; on the other hand, when the Southerners (namin) gained power, the nobi-turned-commoners were forced back to their previous class status.   3. Social History of the Nobi in Korean Literature and Cinema As seen above, in premodern Korea various members of society ranging from the government to private households and individuals had an interest in the nobi. The law requiring that nobi offspring follow their mother’s class status not only had economic implications, but raised complicated questions concerning the married life of yangban who rose to high positions at the court. This is beautifully illustrated in one of the best known premodern Korean novels, Hong Gildong jeon (The Story of Hong Gildong) by Heo Gyun (1569–1618), a reformist, mid-Joseon official.   Hong Gildong: The Illegitimate Son The following is a conversation between the protagonist, Gildong, and his father, Minister Hong, who rose to the position of Minister of Personnel:   “All my life I have had to bear profound sorrow. Even though I was born a sturdy man inheriting Your Lordship’s abundant spirit and strength and am deeply grateful for you bringing me into this world and raising me till this day, I am not allowed to even address my father as ‘Father’ and my older brother as ‘Brother.’ How can a man in such a situation be considered a true human?” Seeing Gildong shed tears, which wet his lapel as he spoke, the minister felt pity for him, yet fearing that expressing sympathy for his plight would aggravate his discontent, he admonished him loudly. “You are hardly the only lowborn child in a high minister’s family. How can such a young boy harbor such a great resentment? If you ever speak of this matter again you will be severely punished.”   At first glance, it is hard to understand why Minister Hong rebukes his son instead of consoling him even as he feels sorry for him. At that time, the ruling yangban took as their legal wives women from families of the same noble class as themselves, yet they could take concubines from among women of lower, commoner status or nobi. The difference in status between their wives and concubines raised household problems. Hong Gildong suffered discriminatory treatment in his house because his stepbrother Inhyeong was born of the legal wife, Lady Yu, while his own mother was a servant girl named Chunseom. Offspring born of concubines followed their mother’s class status: those born of commoner concubines were called seoja and those of nobi concubines, eolja; both were collectively called seoeol. Being called differently based on the social class of one’s mother was in itself an act of discrimination. Thus, the existence of nobi created various relationship issues, causing conflicts even within the family, which was the foundation of society. This discrimination against them extended out into society where, no matter how talented a low-born man was, he was denied any chance to make a name for himself. In the novel, Hong Gildong was a man of heroic character, but he was also an illegitimate son born of a female slave, so he was treated with low regard even by the household servants. Unable to endure this contempt, he eventually left home and established an ideal kingdom on an island called Yuldo. Once Yi Ik lamented the pitiful fate of lowly people, saying, “If a person becomes nobi, he is never allowed to join the commoner status again even though he is gifted with the talents of sages and worthies. How lamentable!”   Jang Yeongsil: Engineer, Scientist, and Inventor Along similar lines, there was an extraordinary case in early Joseon. Jang Yeongsil (1390–1450) was a great scientist who served under the patronage of King Sejong (r. 1397–1450), known for creating the Korean alphabet, hangeul. Jang invented astronomical instruments, including armillary spheres (honseonui), a simplified type of the former (ganui), clepsydras (jagyeongnu), and sundials (angbu ilgu). Though he was a government official in royal favor, Jang was from the public nobi class as he was born to a government courtesan belonging to Dongnae Prefecture (in present-day Busan). Despite his humble origins, he was freed from his lowly status and rose to become Third Deputy Commander (daehogun) thanks to his extraordinary talents in science and a fateful encounter with a king who recognized his abilities. But cases like his were rare and his life was not fully recorded. His last appearance in history can be found in a record of his interrogation concerning his role in making a royal palanquin which accidently broke. It is not certain that such poor treatment was due to his lowly status. But what is clear is that a man of a humble origin with outstanding talent received recognition from the king; this created a delicate relationship between them worthy of public attention. This became the basis of the 2019 film Forbidden Dream (Cheonmun), directed by Hur Jin-ho and featuring veteran actors Han Suk-kyu as King Sejong and Choi Min-sik as Jang Yeongsil.   Bangja: The Saucy Servant Meanwhile, private nobi were divided into two groups based on where they served: household nobi (solgeo) and outside (out-of-residence) nobi (oegeo). The former lived with their masters, providing labor, while the latter lived far away, farming their masters’ fields and usually enjoyed more freedom than solgeo. Public nobi also fell into two types: those who were selected to serve at government offices and those who paid tribute tax in cotton cloth or money instead of serving at the government offices. Whether private or public nobi, their lives were hard and they must have complained much about their masters. The following scene is from Chunhyang jeon (The Tale of Chunhyang), a classic Korean novel hailed as a masterpiece, in which the master-servant relationship is portrayed in a humorous way through a character named Bangja, a public nobi.   Bangja, turning around, said, “Dear young lord, listen to me. Before going to the concubine’s house, call me by my [actual] name instead of Bangja as you and I are both in braided hair, and therefore, unmarried men.” [. . .] The young lord Yi, impatient at any delay, gave it a try but found it inappropriate; however, he could not go to Chunhyang’s house [without Bangja’s help]. Yi suggested, “Hey, Bangja, how about changing your name just for tonight?” Bangja replied, “That makes no sense. Though I am lowly, how can my name possibly be changed? If you want to go, go alone. I will see you tomorrow at the bookstore.”   In this scene the young lord argues with his servant Bangja while on their way to the house of Chunhyang, whom Yi has fallen in love with after first seeing her in Namwon. Earlier, in Gwanghan Pavilion, Bangja teases his young master, saying he should be treated as an older brother as he is senior in age and now, in this scene, insists that his master call him by his actual name, “A Beoji” (meaning “father”): “A” as his surname and “Beoji” his given name. Unable to call him by this ridiculous name, his master suggests changing the name but the servant rejects that alternative, protesting that even though he is a lowly person, his name should not be changed on another’s whim. Then he leaves, telling his master that he will see him the following day. Chunhyang’s house is just around the corner but the only person who can show him the way has disappeared. The young lord Yi, has no choice but to call him “A Beoji” before arriving at Chunhyang’s house. Though a short scene, it humorously captures a rebellious aspect of the lowly class, bringing vitality and literary brilliance to the work. It also touches upon a taboo at the time, namely a servant having the upper hand over the master on account of seniority in age and going so far as to defy the authority of the ruling class. But his boldness does not lead to disciplinary action since the young lord’s desire to see his beloved is much stronger than any desire to punish his servant for hurting his dignity. Namely, the ethics of the ruling class yields to a desire for beauty, which vividly reflects the faltering social class system of late Joseon.   4. Capitalism and the New Class System Today the nobi system has disappeared as human equality has been firmly established as a basic human right in the social system, along with the existence of various institutions guaranteeing individual liberty. Despite this, such discrimination seems to remain in the public psyche. Korean people refer to the social classes according to types of spoons. Gold, silver, bronze, and earthen spoons correspond to royalty, nobility, commoners, and slaves, and they are decided not by one’s talent but by one’s parents’ wealth. Such a classification based on economic standing can be found not just in Korea but around the world, a ubiquitous phenomenon resulting from the deepening of capitalism. In this respect, a look into various aspects of the nobi system of Joseon can be a starting point for exploring premodern Korean society and can also serve as a gateway to understanding Koreans in the present and future.     Translated by Jakyung Lee   Shin Sang-Phil Pusan National University2021-10-04 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=230essayThe Afterlife in Korean Literature © National Museum of Korea The Afterlife: A Special Place The afterlife (jeoseung) is one of the key transcendental other worlds imagined in Korean literature. It appears more frequently than other worlds such as heaven, the world of immortals, the undersea dragon palace, or the underworld, and its forms and characteristics are described quite specifically. It could be said that the perception of the afterlife as a place where all humans are bound to go has made it an object of keen interest. The afterlife appears in a broad spectrum of literary genres. It features in many classical poems, starting with hyangga songs such as Jemangmaega (Lament for a Deceased Sister) and Won wangsaengga (Prayer to Amitāyus). Written and orally transmitted tales frequently contain accounts of beings in the afterlife, or humans who travel there and back. Some works of classical fiction, too, include journeys to the afterlife as a prominent feature. Key examples include Namyeombu juji (Park’s Journey to the Afterlife), Seol Gongchan jeon (The Tale of Seol Gong-chan) and Dang Taejong jeon (The Tale of Taizong of Tang). Myths are a Korean literary genre in which perceptions of the afterlife form a core element. In the world of shamanism, the afterlife as depicted in folk myths told through gut (shamanic ritual) songs is a strange and wondrous place. Though people think of the afterlife as wild and frightening, its portrayal in myths is highly diverse and defies such stereotypes. Humans past or present, from East or West, are fascinated by what happens after death. The afterlife lies at the foundations of their imaginings of the next world. As perceived in Korean myths, it demonstrates the essence of cultural and philosophical imagination. The afterlife can be seen as a valuable spiritual and cultural asset of today’s Korean Wave.   Korea’s Mythical Weltanschauung and the Afterlife In order to understand Koreans’ view of the afterlife, it is necessary to examine how they have traditionally perceived the fundamental order of the universe. Creation myths and other folk myths offer a good reflection of such perceptions. Korean creation myths tell that before this world appeared, heaven and earth were melded together in a single body. This can be described as a state of chaos that was neither heaven nor earth. Heaven and earth were created as they broke apart, and the world of natural beings—the human world—appeared between them. Notable here is the fact that humans dwell in more than one world. In addition to the world of the living (iseung), there is the afterlife (jeoseung), inhabited by the dead; these two worlds form a pair. When a person dies, he or she crosses into the afterlife. From this perspective, our world can be understood as consisting broadly of four dimensions. Heaven and the underworld are the original realms of the gods, and still inhabited by many of them, while the world of the living and the afterlife are inhabited by humans. In pictorial form, the world can be represented as follows:     Heaven and the underworld are divine spaces, while the afterlife and world of the living are human spaces, creating a dual structure of divine and human worlds. It can be said that the divine world is bigger than the human world. Though heaven and the underworld are divided by the human world, they are not completely separate. They meet through the human world, and are linked in some faraway place. The divine and human worlds fundamentally exist in a vertical relationship. The latter is situated below heaven and above the underworld. The relationship between the human world and the underworld is not a simple one. Though the latter appears to be below the former, it can be seen as a higher dimension in terms of its attributes. Unlike the vertical structure of heaven and the underworld, the world of the living and the afterlife are seen as existing in a horizontal relationship. Though they are separate, they are also locked together at some point. The world of the living extends far on its horizontal axis, while the afterlife contains the polar opposite realms of paradise and hell, arranged vertically.   Where is the Afterlife? In many religions and myths around the world, the afterlife is perceived as located under the ground. Greek and Roman myths offer a clear example of this. The notion of this subterranean location also relates to the fact that humans bury their dead in the ground. In Korean shamanic myths, by contrast, the afterlife is located across from the world of the living. Those making their way there cross wide fields, pass over hills or cross water—all horizontal movements. The decisive boundary is generally some form of water. This is sometimes referred to as Yusugang (Yusu River) or Hwang-cheon (Yellow Stream). It is sometimes crossed by a ferry boat, and sometimes by a single log bridge. In Korean myth, the afterlife is said to lie to the west of the world of the living. Though this belief is doubtless related to the fact that the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean lies to the east of the Korean Peninsula, Koreans’ worldview is a more important factor. The world of the living, located in the east where the sun rises, is a place of morning and spring and creation, while the afterlife, located in the west where the sun sets, is a place of evening and autumn and extinction. In terms of attributes, the relationship between the world of the living and the afterlife corresponds to that of yang and yin.   Between the World of the Living and the Afterlife Like many other world religions, Korean shamanism acknowledges the existence of the soul. The body is limited and rots away when its time comes, but the soul remains alive and continues on to the afterlife. No human can avoid the passage to the afterlife. More time is spent in the afterlife than in the land of the living. While the latter is a place where good and bad fortunes are intertwined, the former features clear divisions between pleasure and pain. It can be a place of infinite happiness and pleasure, or one of immense and endless pain. The world of the living and the afterlife are both close and far apart. Though the afterlife touches the world of the living, it is not easy to enter. Gods may go back and forth between these two realms, but humans cannot. With only a very few exceptions, living humans cannot enter the afterlife. Only those who have died, and whose souls have separated from their bodies, may go. According to myths and legends, not all souls enter the afterlife. Some avoid it due to deep grievances or strong attachments, while others are unable to go because their names are not on the afterlife register, or because they have no money for the journey. Souls that cannot enter the afterlife become ghosts that wander the world of the living. Sometimes, they possess the bodies of others and cause trouble. This counts as a worst-case scenario: it is regarded as proper for souls to enter the afterlife after leaving their bodies, even if they end up in hell once there. The relationship between the world of the living and the afterlife is one-way. Once the afterlife has been entered, there is no return. But the relationship has not always been completely irreversible. Koreans believed that souls of the deceased that had gone to the afterlife could be reborn as new lives in the human world. From a macroscopic perspective, the afterlife forms one part of the life cycle of the universe. Just as the sun that sets over the western sea rises again over the east, the afterlife is seen as both a final destination for life and a new beginning.   Paradise and Hell: Opposite Poles of the Afterlife The afterlife is home to two completely different spaces, which are strictly separated according to clear notions of good and evil: paradise and hell. Souls entering the afterlife essentially go to one or the other. Paradise and hell are diametrically opposed in terms of character. Paradise is a world of extreme pleasure, while hell is a place of unbearable pain. Paradise is bright, light, and beautiful, while hell is dark, heavy, and hideous. Notable is the fact that, in Korean myth, paradise and hell are not seen as completely cut off from each other. Humans cannot choose one or the other at will, or cross from one to the other just as they please. But the passage that links the two spaces is not blocked. There is a way for souls trapped in hell to go to paradise. The myth Bari gongju (Princess Bari) tells how its eponymous protagonist prays fervently until the fortress of iron and the fortress of thorns collapse and the souls that are inside them travel to paradise. This story shows that upward movement to paradise is possible through devotion and prayer. In Korea, punishment in hell is described as “ten thousand years of pain.” Here, ten thousand years does not signify eternity. Koreans took the view that those who had paid adequately for their sins in hell could go to paradise or be reborn into the human world. This conforms with the Buddhist view of samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth).   A painting from the Joseon period depicting the Ten Kings and the Ten Hells. On top are the kings, in the middle various objects, and at the bottom people facing trials in each hell. The panel on the left shows (from left to right): the first king, Qinguang, and the Hell of the Mountain of Knives; the third king, Songdi, and the Hell of Ice; the fifth king, Yanluo, and the Hell of Tongue Ripping; the seventh king, Taishan, and the Hell of Mortars and Pestles; and the ninth king, Dushi, and the Hell of Lacerating Winds. The panel on the right shows (from right to left): the second king, Chujiang, and the Hell of Oil Cauldrons; the fourth king, Wuguan, and the Hell of Trees of Knives; the sixth king, Biancheng, and the Hell of Vipers; the eighth king, Pingdeng, and the Hell of Sawing; and the tenth king, Zhuanlun, and the Hell of Darkness. Image © National Museum of Korea     The Ten Kings and Ten Types of Hell In Korean myth, hell is the most vividly described realm of the afterlife in terms of form and characteristics. While paradise is depicted in somewhat abstract terms, as a place of beauty and peace, hell is divided into ten sub-sections, each containing graphically described horrors. Each of the Ten Hells is ruled by its own deity; collectively, these are known as the Ten Kings. The best-known among them is King Yanluo. The Ten Hells and their kings are as follows: 1. Hell of the Mountain of Knives, ruled by King Qinguang, where sinners must walk over a mountain with knives sticking out of it. 2. Hell of Oil Cauldrons, ruled by King Chujiang, where sinners are boiled in cauldrons of oil. 3. Hell of Ice, ruled by King Songdi, where sinners are frozen in ice. 4. Hell of Trees of Knives, ruled by King Wuguan, where sinners are thrown into trees with protruding knife blades. 5. Hell of Tongue Ripping, ruled by King Yanluo, where sinners’ tongues are ripped out and plowed like fields. 6. Hell of Vipers, ruled by King Biancheng, where sinners are thrown into pits full of venomous snakes. 7. Hell of Mortars and Pestles, ruled by King Taishan, where sinners are pounded and ground up. 8. Hell of Sawing, ruled by King Pingdeng, where sinners are sawn in half. 9. Hell of Lacerating Winds, ruled by King Dushi, where sinners are tormented by bitingly cold winds. 10. Hell of Darkness, ruled by King Zhuanlun, where sinners are kept in total darkness.   The souls of those who sin before dying go through several of these hells, according to the nature of their sins, and endure terrible pain. The types of hell found in Korean myths are known to have come from Buddhism; Buddhist hell paintings offer vivid depictions of the ten infernal realms. Today, the afterlife deities people think of first are King Yanluo, the other nine kings of hell, and death spirits. But the most important afterlife deity in Korean shamanic myth is, in fact, another figure: Princess Bari (Baridegi), who leads the dead to the afterlife. The princess, a goddess of mercy, escorts souls to the afterlife and cleanses them of their sins and grievances. The soul of any deceased person can reach paradise with the favor of Bari. She is similar in character to the bodhisattvaKitigarbha, but plays a much more important role. Some texts claim that her seven sons became some of the Ten Kings of hell, an illustration of her status and power.   Mysterious Realms: The Flower Garden of the West and Woncheongang Paradise and hell are not the only places in the afterlife of Korean myth. Two additional mysterious realms are the Flower Garden of the West and Woncheongang. The garden is home to flowers such as the Birth Flower, the Rebirth Flower, the Evil Flower and the Fire Flower, and is said to lie across the water in the afterlife. They say that Grandmother Samsin uses these flowers to conceive children in the world of the living. Children brought here by Grandmother Samsin water the flowers, rather than being judged by the Ten Kings, before later proceeding to paradise. Woncheongang, to which Oneuri, god of time, travelled across the Cheongsu Sea, is another special place in the afterlife. There are said to be four doors there, each of which opens to a season: spring, summer, autumn or winter. This place can thus be regarded as the origin of the four seasons and of time. Put another way: it can also be seen as the origin of all nature. Woncheongang holds the answers to the questions asked by all beings in the world, too. People today sometimes see the afterlife as a world of cruel endings and pain, and regard it with great fear. But the afterlife in Korean myth is not simple. It is a place where the wrongs of the world of the living are put right, but also one where damaged lives prepare to be born again. To those who have lived hard, poor, and honest lives in the world of the living, the afterlife is a world of opportunity. This worldview is a reflection of popular desires.   Cultural Content Related to the Afterlife Many aspects of art and culture throughout the world touch upon journeys to the afterlife. In Korea, it was an important part of the background to the TV drama Jeonseol-ui gohyang (Evil Twin), which depicted the afterlife as a scary and dangerous place. Many works of contemporary fiction portraying journeys in the afterlife are based on the myth of Princess Bari. Key examples include Kang Unkyo’s serial poem “Baridegi-ui yeohaengnorae” (Bari’s Travel Song), Kim Sun-wu’s novel Bari Gongju (Princess Bari), Hwang Sok-yong’s novel Baridegi (Princess Bari), the song Eomneun norae (The Song That Isn’t) and the modern pansori work Baridegi Bari Gongju (Baridegi Princess Bari). Joo Ho-min’s webtoon Sin-gwa hamkke (Along with the Gods) won great popularity for its new depiction of the afterlife and hell in Korean myth. The work recreated the Ten Hells and Ten Kings with a partly humorous, contemporary feel. It was also made into two films, accumulating total ticket sales of more than twenty-five million. The original webtoon was adapted and serialized in Japan, too. Meanwhile, several recent works have featured the Flower Garden of the West and Woncheongang. These are notable for the fact that they no longer portray the afterlife only as a place of fear.     Translated by Ben Jackson   Shin Dong-hun Konkuk University   2021-07-03 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=156essayByeongpung: The Folding Screens of Korea A Gwandong palgyeong folding screen from the Joseon period (1392–1910). Image © National Museum of Korea   Screens in Korean Culture There is a Korean saying that a person is born behind a screen and dies behind a screen. In the past, when it was common for babies to be born at home, a folding screen, called byeongpung (亶蠾, lit. “wind blocker”) in Korean, would be used to turn a space into a delivery room. A newborn baby would emit her first cry behind the screen. Funerals likewise used to be conducted at home. A screen would be placed in front of the casket, and visitors would pay condolences while looking at it. Thus, a folding screen was a special object for Koreans, accompanying a person’s life from beginning to end. A screen could be found in all living spaces in traditional Korea, being at once everyday furniture and more than just furniture. In Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), one can see that in Silla’s caste system, called the bone rank system, people of true-bone rank (the second highest caste) and below were not allowed to use embroidered screens. At that time, screens functioned as class and status markers. Goryeo dogyeong (Illustrated Account of Goryeo), written by Xu Jing (1091–1153), the Song Chinese envoy who visited Goryeo, records that the Goryeo royal court had embroidered screens arranged on all four sides in the banquet hall. It is imaginable that the Goryeo court had hoped to impress the Chinese envoy with the elaborate screens. These historical anecdotes attest to the significance of screens as a work of art and luxury item in Korea since ancient times. A screen panel is made of a rectangular wooden frame backed with a light wooden lattice that is lined with many layers of paper. A painting or a calligraphic work on either paper or silk is mounted on the panel. Some screens are mounted with works of silk embroidery. Two or more such panels can be connected by using strips of paper or cloth, creating a multi-panel folding screen. The structure of traditional Korean houses influenced to a great extent how Koreans made and used screens. Before modernization, Koreans mainly sat on the floor of their homes instead of on chairs. Rather than eating at a high table, they used small, low individual dining tables. Rooms in traditional Korean houses were typically small with low ceilings because the size of wood beams and ridgepoles were strictly regulated by sumptuary laws. Small living spaces naturally led to a preference for a light, mobile folding screen over a tall and wide single-panel screen set in a heavy frame. The mobility of a light folding screen contributed to its versatile usage: it could be set behind a table when performing ancestral rites, placed in front of a door to block wind, or used as a cover to hide any unseemly sight. It is also important to understand the climate of the peninsula if one is to understand the culture of screens in Korea. In cold and dry winters, the paper-lined doors and windows commonly used by Koreans did not provide enough insulation. Screens came in handy in such situations as they provided a second layer of protection from the cold wind. In hot and humid summers, on the other hand, they could be removed without difficulty. Apart from their practical uses, screens also had symbolic functions. At no time was this clearer than when a screen was placed behind the host. As a visitor sat facing his host, his gaze naturally fell on both the host and the screen. Imagine also, that when a son saw his father, or a pupil visited her teacher, the imagery on the screen would become conflated with the image of the host sitting in front of it. In this way, the theme of the screen could configure the relationship between host and guest. A case in point is found in the classical novel, Chunhyangjeon (The Tale of Chunhyang), which survives in many different versions. In one version, the protagonist, Scholar Yi, visits the house of the heroine Chunyang and is immediately captivated by the painted screen showing images of the four seasons. Poems inscribed on the screen created double entendres: while they are primarily descriptions of the painted scenes, they also allude to the passionate emotional state that Chunhyang and Scholar Yi are experiencing as they fall in love with each other. Thus, a screen in traditional Korean living environments not only reflected the host’s cultural standards, but also set the tone for communication between host and guest. Screens also played an important role in rituals. When performing ancestral rites in the daecheongmaru of the house, a screen was placed behind a table to separate the ritual space from the living space beyond. For this purpose, a screen with calligraphy instead of painted images was used. Many modern Korean households still have double-sided screens tucked away in storage. One side of these screens are usually decorated with bird and flower motifs in silk embroidery; the other side is decorated with calligraphy against a plain white background. The colorful side with flowers and birds would be shown in normal times, but the calligraphic side would be used during ancestral rites. These screens were usually brought to the household by women as part of their wedding furniture. It took great time and effort to make such screens. While they have now fallen out of use, they were once valued possessions. Screens were not just used indoors, but they could be used outdoors as well. As Korean houses were fairly small, big events such as weddings or birthday celebrations often took place in the courtyard. On such occasions, mats would be placed on the ground, and a pair of folding screens would be placed side by side, turning the space in front of the screens into the main stage for a banquet. Backstage (i.e., behind the screen), people would busy themselves preparing food and such, safely out of view. Old photographs of weddings and banquets taken as late as the 1970s often show participants gathered in front of a pair of folding screens. Such photographs vividly illustrate the versatile use of screens in Korean culture.   The Structure of Korean Screens and Their Thematic Variations Koreans often displayed their folding screens in a partly closed mode, each pair of panels forming a V-shape. In order for a screen to close completely when folded, it must always have an even number of panels. A six or eight-panel screen was the most common form in Korea, with ten- or twelve-panel screens reserved for large celebrative occasions. An eight-panel screen, the most widely used form in Korea, may have had a close connection to the number eight, which Korean art places so much emphasis on. Painted albums and poems were often created in sets of eight; it is possible that they were made with the idea of transforming them into screens. Such a hypothesis sounds even more probable when one notes that the images on Korean screens were often related but not seamlessly connected. The self-contained image on each panel allowed it to be appreciated on its own when a screen was set up in the half-folded mode, visually breaking continuity from one panel to the next. The Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers, a beloved theme throughout East Asia, illustrates this point. A widely popular theme in China since the Song dynasty (960–1279), the eight views were usually rendered as a single unbroken scene in Chinese handscrolls. Korean interpretations of the theme, in contrast, often rendered the eight views as independent, vertical compositions mounted on an eight-panel folding screen. Although the Korean rendering sacrificed continuity, it was better suited for the appreciation of each individual scene when the screen was displayed in half-open fashion. Likewise, local scenic spots throughout the Korean peninsula were usually grouped into sets of eight, such as Gwandong palgyeong (The Eight Scenic Sites East of the Daegwallyeong Pass). Poems were often written in a set of eight stanzas, such as Hallim byeolgok (A Song of Confucian Scholars) and Dongnak palgok (The Eight Songs of Solitary Pleasure). If a poem had an odd number of stanzas, such as Gosan gugokga (The Nine Songs from Gosan), a preface would be added to form an even number. Such practices may have been connected to a preference for a folding screen with even-numbered panels.   Eight-panel munjado screen from the Joseon period, painted with eight Chinese characters for the Confucian virtues of (from right to left): “filial piety” (hyo, ), “brotherly respect” (je, 薵), “loyalty to the king” (chung, 蘙), “trust” (sin, 蝁), “ritual decorum  and  propriety” (ye, 窔), “righteousness” (ui, 錩), “integrity” (yeom, 眽), and “modesty” (chi, 鷃). Image © National Museum of Korea   As mentioned above, the decoration of Korean screens achieved continuity not necessarily by painting one image over linked panels, but by making each panel collectively work toward a larger, unified theme. A case in point is the pictorial ideograph (munjado) screen. In this screen, eight sinographs, each signifying one of the eight Confucian virtues, are written one to a panel, such as yin (humaneness), ui (righteousness), ye (ritual decorum and propriety), ji (wisdom), hyo (filial piety), je (brotherly respect), yeom (integrity), and chi (modesty). Each panel would have alongside the character an illustration of an ancient anecdote exemplifying the virtue. In this way, a character, which is self-contained in meaning, would take part in communicating long narratives assisted by images and the format of the screen. A screen could show eight exemplars from history for any desired theme: eight accomplished scholars for a screen set in a schoolroom, eight filial sons and daughters for a screen emphasizing filial piety, and so on. Sometimes a screen would show the passage of time instead of listing discrete examples, as in a life-course painting (pyeongsaengdo) screen, which depicted the ideal course of life for a nobleman who enjoys a high official position and many other fortunes. If such topics were too flamboyant, then a scholar could always opt for the four gentlemanly subjects—flowering plums, orchids, chrysanthemums, and bamboo—each pictured twice on an eight-panel screen. In the same manner, the four seasons screens depicted motifs for each season on two panels. Bird and flower screens showed eight independent motifs, one for each of the eight panels. One aspect that had to be considered when choosing the theme of a screen was its main location. A screen placed in a drawing room, occupied by the male of the house and used for receiving guests, was distinct from a screen placed in the inner quarters. A screen placed in the latter commonly featured themes such as birds and flowers or auspicious symbols, especially those relating to fertility. On the other hand, a screen placed in a drawing room tended to depict academic subjects, such as famous Chinese poems, one on each panel. Such screens allowed the host to intimate his taste and cultural knowledge to his guests. A screen made for a festive occasion—a birthday, for example—usually depicted the banquet of the Tang dynasty general Guo Ziyi, the banquet of the Queen Mother of the West, or the life-course painting theme mentioned earlier. The sun, moon and five peaks screen (Ilwoldo) provided a backdrop to the Joseon king, and thus was off limits to anyone else. Screens were made with a variety of different themes according to their intended placement and use. The late eighteenth century saw the development of a special type of screen called chaekgado (scholar’s accouterments). The genre has its origins in Chinese treasure shelves that were used in the Qing imperial palaces and noblemen’s mansions to display antiques and other precious objects. In China, large-scale pictorial representations of such shelves were sometimes made in a tieluo (attach and detach) format so that they could be affixed to a wall or a single-panel screen. In Korea, pictorial representations of treasure shelves predominantly took the format of multi-panel folding screens, with each panel representing the column of a shelf. Many such screens also used linear perspective and chiaroscuro. As such, the chaekgado screen placed behind the host’s seat in a drawing room gave off the illusion of an actual shelf, visually transforming the drawing room into a fanciful library or a cabinet of curiosities. Another unique aspect of Korean screens is the wide silk lining on the lower part, below the main motif. This might be attributable to the traditional Korean lifestyle of sitting on the floor and using low furniture—that is, the lower part of a screen may have been obscured by people sitting or furniture, so motifs began a little higher up. The format of a multi-panel screen may also have influenced how cityscapes were pictured by introducing verticality to a theme traditionally depicted in a horizontal composition. For example, the most famous cityscape painting in Chinese history, Along the River During the Qingming Festival by the Song dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan (1085–1145), shows the Northern Song capital Bianjing in a horizontal handscroll format. Conversely, the eighteenth-century Korean screen The City of Supreme Peace shows the cityscape unfolding alongside three parallel roads, thus adding verticality to the overall composition. This is a case in which the medium of a picture-bearing object influences the picture’s composition. Despite their glorious past, screens no longer have a place in modern Korean life. Western-style furniture—couches and display selves—have superseded screens in condos and apartments. There is little concern now about dividing spaces or shielding from wind. As a result, many families today no longer have screens and if they do, they are kept tucked away except for a few times each year when ancestral rites are performed. Such use has even become obsolete for families who no longer perform ancestral rites. Most concerningly, screens have failed to draw the attention of buyers and sellers in present-day antique markets. More often than not, multi-panel folding screens are sold panel by panel as a way to leverage more profit from the item. In such cases, the unifying theme of the multi-panel screen is lost. The changing environment of interiors has inevitably brought about the alteration of traditional artistic forms. Screens have played a unique role in traditional Korean housing for centuries. The challenges associated with decorating them allowed artists to rethink traditional themes, composition, functionality, and symbolism and to find new and more creative ways of expressing them. Without a doubt, the screen is one of the best examples that defines and illustrates what Korean art is.     Translated by Young Kim   Min Jung Hanyang University2021-07-03 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=579essayOf Gods and Other Supernatural Entities in Traditional Korea The Concept of 神 The Korean term that generally expresses the concept of divinity is sin ãê (pronounced “shin”), which is derived from Chinese. Commonly translated as “god,” this word actually has a very broad semantic sphere, also including concepts such as “soul,” “spirit,” and “supernaturality.” In fact, the character sin is associated and applied to terms such as gwisin (, spirit), sinseon (, immortal being), sinnyeong  (, spirit, divinity), sintong (, supernatural powers), sinmyeong (, divinity, often of the sky and earth), jeongsin (, mind, spirit, conscience), etc. The concept of “divinity” has undergone many transformations in Korea, following the numerous cultural stratifications that have occurred in the peninsula throughout history. The original essence of the Korean religion is animism, shared with other peoples of Northeast Asia, where every manifestation of nature can be impregnated with “divinity.” Ancient Chinese texts such as Sanguozhi (, Records of the Three Kingdoms), and Jinshu (, Book of Jin), etc., confirm the primeval animistic nature of the Korean religion, emphasizing that they (the Koreans) “believe in spirits” (). The ancient Korean deities do not have precise names, nor statues or other representations. Often, the idea of divinity is contained in the very name of its manifestation: thus, “Heaven” is at the same time also the “god of Heaven” and the “Sun” is at the same time also the “god of the sun.” Terms like Haneunim (Lord of Heaven) or Dangun () are certainly connected with the idea of sky/heaven. Even today, haneul in Korean means “sky,” whereas Dangun probably has the same origin as the Turkic-Mongolian word Tängri (“Heaven.” Old Turkic:). This term appears for the first time, as Chengli (), in the reports on Xiongnu () made by ancient Chinese historians (see for example, Han shu (, History of the Han), and this has led some to think that the Xiongnu were a people speaking a Turkic language. In reality, however, it could be exactly the opposite, namely that Tängri was originally a Xiongnu word that later passed into the Turkic languages and also into Korean. However, there is even a hypothesis according to which Tängri could be connected to the term Dingir in ancient Sumerian (a language of a still unknown origin but certainly of an agglutinative type), graphically rendered with the ideogram of “star” (). As for the term haneunim, sinicized as Tianzhu/Cheonju (), it was also the one often used by the first Catholic missionaries to indicate the God of Christians both in China (just think of Matteo Ricci’s work entitled Tianzhu shiyi (, “The true meaning of the Lord of Heaven”), and in Korea, where Catholicism is still referred to as Cheonjugyo () or “Religion of the Lord of Heaven.” Protestants, on the other hand, changed the term to Hananim (“the unique Lord”), in order to avoid misunderstandings and association with the old pagan deity.   The World of Animism Animism is therefore a world of spirits, each of which represents a manifestation of nature and belongs to that category of supernatural beings that the Mongols call gazriin ezen (spirits of nature); a concept present also in the Korean imagination. Animals too obviously have their own spirit or become receptacles for external spirits. In Korean folklore, fox-spirits or tiger-spirits are very common, but sometimes an animal can also host the soul of a shaman and be its vehicle. With such spirits the souls of the dead can come into conflict when they detach from the body. If we add to this the belief that deficiency in observing the prescribed rites could convince souls to remain in the earthly sphere to persecute the living, then it appears evident that the funerary system and the funerary rituals have received great attention from the Koreans since the earliest times. One of the most widespread beliefs is that a man has several souls, of which one remains in burial and the other (or the others) wanders the world in search of peace. Confucianism ended up appropriating this tradition, which is certainly older, by establishing as the seat of a soul the ancestral tablets venerated in the domestic temple, to which a sacrifice was periodically offered (and is still offered). Respect for the times is fundamental in the correct management of the soul of the deceased-even before the sacrificial homage in the days commanded (anniversary of death, first autumn full moon, lunar New Year, etc.). In fact, ceremonies and rituals aimed at ensuring the complete detachment of the soul from the body begin immediately after death. The “priests” who administer animism (and therefore deal directly with the gods/spirits) are, especially in the Korean context, the female shamans (mudang). In this regard, there is an interesting hypothesis according to which the character mu (), now pronounced “wu” in Mandarin Chinese, was originally pronounced *Myag/Məg and therefore connected with the ancient Persian magu- (modern Persian: magh  ), the ancient Greek μάγος, the Latin magus and, hence, modern words such as magic and magician. Furthermore, we should not forget the female character, called Magu () in Chinese (Korean: Mago), who, as a goddess or a nymph, often appears in the folklore of the Far East. For the rest, in Korea there are also male shamans called baksu, but these show characteristics of a sexual ambiguity that is typical of Northeast Asian shamanism and not limited to the Korean peninsula.  This leads us to think that a matriarchal or matrilineal society originally existed in protohistoric Korea and other areas of Northeastern Asia (including Japan). In China, it is the goddess Nüwa () who creates humanity, and it is that same Nüwa who in Shuowen jiezi ((, Explanation of simple and complex characters) will be presented as the sister and wife of Fuxi (). In Japanese mythology, Izanami-no Mikoto ( or ) is the goddess of creation and death, but she is also the wife of her own brother Izanagi ( or ). Izanami herself will then descend into the netherworld after giving birth to the god of fire, Kagutsuchi (, also called Homasubi ), in a sacred tale that could allude to the replacement of matriarchy with patriarchy. In Korean mythology, where cosmogonic and anthropogonic myths are almost completely absent, the nation is founded by the union between the son of the god of Heaven (Hwanung ) and a bear transformed into a woman (Ungnyeo ), in a narration (Samguk yusa, , Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) that already seems to indicate a syncretism between gods of the sky (usually male) and gods of the earth (usually female). A recurring motif in the birth of the founders of the various Korean kingdoms is the egg, a typical symbol of female fertility, and this casts doubt on a possible original mythology based on the superiority of female divinities, subsequently diminished by medieval and modern texts.   Cultural “Contaminations” In the following centuries, the Korean imaginariness of the supernatural sphere will be enriched with religious elements coming mainly from China, but not necessarily Chinese. The development of trade between the Far East and India/Central Asia had in fact brought completely new ideas and concepts to China, many of which would also be established in Korea. The most striking of the new systems of thought was certainly Buddhism, which arrived to the Korean peninsula as early as the fourth century through missionaries from China and Central Asia. The impact on traditional Korean society is dramatic, and leads to decisive transformations in the traditional customs of protohistoric Koreans. Buddhism is a philosophy born in an Indo-European context, strongly masculinist and bearer of new concepts such as reincarnation. New funerary practices such as cremation are introduced and Korean society begins to move towards the tripartite model (warriors, priests, and food producers) of the Indo-Europeans. The Buddha is depicted in statues and paintings, a consequence of the turning point that occurred centuries earlier in the Indo-Greek kingdoms of Bactria, where, under the influence of Hellenic influence, images of the Enlightened One were created for the first time, according to the model of the Greek gods. Following the arrival of Buddhism, the traditional Korean pantheon is upset: now the Buddha rules over the old gods of nature, many of whom now identify with Indian deities. Thus Indra/Śakra () becomes Cheseok/Cheseokcheon (), Brahmā ( ) becomes Peomcheon (), Yama () becomes Yeomna (), the god of death and the afterlife. The cultural “contamination” is very strong and so the Bodhisattva Mireuk (, Maitreya  ) can even become the protagonist of the shamanic song “Changsega” (, The song of the creation of the world), one of the very few examples of cosmogonic myths in Korea. In this way, the Korean religious imaginariness becomes a true kaleidoscope, where elements imported from China or even from India and Western Asia are added to the animist substratum. Other fantastic figures are associated with the ancient gods, such as the nymphs (seonnyeo ), the dragon-king (Yongwang ), the Queen mother of the west (Seowangmo ), the goblins/elves dokkaebi, hybrid creatures like the samjogo (, three-legged crow), the kirin (, one-horned beast), and the haechi. Many such elements come from outside or they are in any case common to other civilizations: the Queen mother of the West and the Garden of the peach trees of immortality can only remind us of the Garden of the Hesperides from the classical world of Europe, where nymphs (echoing the Greek νύμφαι and the Indian apsarasaḥ  ) and dragons are widespread. Dokkaebi are the Korean version of those spiteful beings present in all parts of the world, such as goblins, gnomes, , elves, leprechauns, domovoj домовой, tsukumogami (), etc. The samjogo is also well present in China (where it is called sanzuwu , yangwu  or jinwu ) and in Japan (where it is called yatagarasu ), while the kirin is part of that mythology of the unicorn also found in the folklore of many civilizations. Finally, the haechi is a typical case of adaptation of a cultural model. Rendered in Chinese as xiezhi (; haetae with the Korean pronunciation), outwardly it looks like a lion, but is a polymorphic animal, whose origin is traced back to the magical one-horned goat, called zhi (), owned by Gao Yao (), minister of justice of Emperor Shun (). The animal in question was endowed with innate and wonderful wisdom, to the point of immediately knowing how to recognize right from wrong and the innocent from the guilty, who were inexorably punished. In Korea it was probably established at least since the beginning of the Joseon period (1392–1910), when it was called haechi. The latter term, coined on the basis of the pure Korean language, was created for nationalistic purposes as an abbreviation of the sentence Haenimi pagyeonhan byeoseurachi (public official sent by the sun). Visible in many historical places in Seoul, where it is found for apotropaic purposes and as a witness to justice, today the haechi has officially become the symbol of the capital of the Republic of Korea.   Gods and Spirits in Korean Classic Literature Korean literature (especially popular literature) gives much space to ghosts and spirits, both good and evil. Fox-spirits, above all, are great protagonists, especially in negative terms. The dragon-king (usually a positive figure) is also very present and there are also Buddhist priests, not infrequently portrayed as hypocritical or debauched. It must be said, however, that the Korean fantastic narrative was born on the impulse of the Chinese one, in turn stimulated by the fairy tale literature of India which arrived together with Buddhism. In such a context, in many Korean works or literary episodes the favorite theme seems to be the (often problematic) relationship between the human and supernatural spheres, the world of the living and the dead. In China, these fantastic narrative genres, later called chuanqi (, unusual tales) and zhiguai  (, chronicles of the supernatural sphere), were established as early as the third or fourth century. In Korea there are already traces of them in works such as the Sui-jeon (, unusual stories, perhaps compiled between the tenth and twelfth centuries) and the Samguk yusa, from the end of the thirteenth century. However, we must assume that most of the Korean works of the ancient period were lost, and therefore the production of fantastic literature in ancient Korea may have been much larger. In the Joseon period, the fantastic genre reveals itself in a much more decisive and traceable way, and it represents a fundamental step towards that classic novel, or gojeon soseol (), which will fully assert itself from the seventeenth century. Literary prose like the Geumo sinhwa (, New stories of Mount Geumo) by Kim Siseup (, 1435–1493) or the Seol Gongchan-jeon (, Story of Seol Kongchan) by Chae Su (, 1449–1515), or even the Gijae Gii (, Fantastic Chronicles of Gijae, pseudonym of the author) by Sin Gwanghan (, 1484–1555), thus represent an important viaticum for later works such as the soseol or the large collections of yadam (, folk/popular tales).  Thus, classical Korean literature eventually becomes a truly anthropological and religious encyclopedia, within which it is possible to recognize, alongside decidedly indigenous cultural elements,  motifs and characters that, despite having  very distant origins, later became irreplaceable,  characterizing elements of the entire traditional culture and collective imagination of Korea.   Maurizio Riotto Philologist, KLN Editorial Advisor  2021-03-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=575essayPansori: The Essence of Korean Popular Art Pansori is a performance art that emerged between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, going on to remain popular among Koreans for at least 300 years. The height of its popularity lasted for approximately 200 years, from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Having begun as a live performance genre, pansori later expanded into stage performances, gramophone records, and broadcast media. Pansori is created through a synergistic meeting of the storytelling and singing cultures that rose to prominence in late Joseon. Satisfying the different artistic demands of commoners and nobles alike, pansori underwent a variety of divisions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They were written down and became established as novels, and they were performed on stage as musical plays with roles divided among multiple actors. Popular works were also sold as LP records, coming into competition with pop songs. Ssukdaemeori is a good example of this. Of course, pansori was also kept alive in its original form as a live performance genre.   The Concept and Character of Pansori   The term pansori combines two separate words: pan and sori. Pan is a term given to any place where several people gather, while sori means “song.” Pansori thus means “a song sung at a pan,” or “a song that creates a pan.” Pansori performances can vary in length from several dozen minutes to several hours, and are characterized by their lengthy and thriving  pan. The pan element of pansori is also sometimes interpreted in terms of the Sino-Korean word meaning a precisely-dimensioned “board” (÷ù) or “framework.” Those who take this view explain that the name refers to songs with elaborate and well-crafted combinations of rhythm, melody and lyrics. The physical format of pansori is simple. As long as a singer, known as a gwangdae, and an accompanist, known as a gosu, are present, pansori can be performed anywhere and at any time. Accompaniment is played using only a drum and drumstick: a style so simple that anyone with just a drum can perform pansori anywhere in the world. The cultural and artistic power of pansori is phenomenal. With its combination of captivating storylines and details and vivid music that resonates in the heart, it creates compelling and uplifting performances. Pansori’s survival over several centuries can be ascribed to its efficient combination of unique motive power and artistry. The stories told in pansori brought together salient fragments from various similar tales already widely known among the general public. Their flexible structure thus allowed them to be altered in a range of variations by their listeners. The establishment of modern print and publishing systems led to the emergence of new fiction, followed by the arrival in earnest of the modern novel. This allowed various pansori motifs (themes, subjects, characters, etc.) to be adapted into diverse forms capable of capturing the audience’s interests.   The Origins and Development of Pansori   The origins of pansori are the subject of various academic theories, the most plausible of which holds that its roots lie in shamanic songs. Many shamanic songs sung at gut (rituals) contain stories and some employ a mixture of song and spoken word. Pansori is said to have appeared when such forms were developed in a more professional manner and became established as a genre of popular performance art. The fact that many pansori singers come from shamanic families is testimony to the deep ties between shamanic songs and pansori. But there are few songs in the pansori repertory that have survived from shamanic songs. Their plots are comprised of vivid and lengthy single stories, which should be seen as developments of popular storytelling culture. The many storytellers active among the civilian population developed the storytelling culture in late Joseon, and the gwangdae, who were street performers, expanded and rearranged these stories into longer, more complex forms.   Artistic Features of Pansori   Pansori music consists of various rhythms and vocal sounds. Rhythms range from jinyangjo, the slowest, to hwimori, the fastest, with jungmeori and jungjungmeori (moderate tempos) being the two principal types. A type of irregular rhythm, known as eotjangdan, is also used. The range of vocal sounds and ways of using the throat in pansori are so diverse that listing them all is close to impossible. Only those who master sad sounds, happy sounds, pure sounds, raspy sounds and various other types are able to attain the appellation of myeongchang (master singers), reserved for the most esteemed sorikkun (singers). As music, pansori aims to realistically reflect all the sounds of the world. In addition to the sounds of people of all ages and genders, singers vividly reproduce the sounds of birds and other animals, as well as of natural features. Effectively, there is no sound that pansori cannot express. Sorikkun are so skilled at this that they are said to be able to summon birds by making bird sounds. To reach this level, the singers would practice until their throats bled. As a form of literature, pansori is oriented towards reality, vividly depicting the minds and specific circumstances of believable characters in realistic stories. Pansori literature sent shockwaves through the literary world by opening a new arena of realist narrative. Audiences laughed and cried, captivated by the realistic situations that unfolded before them. In terms of aesthetic orientation, pansori has been described as “music for the hidden side,” meaning that its music must accord with the inner nature of situations. Through a perfect combination of narrative and music, pansori creates peerless aesthetic effects. As a genre, it freely expresses every emotion, from joy and sorrow to love, hate and desire. Pansori is a remarkable art, capable of making audiences laugh one moment and cry the next, or even both at the same time. To Koreans of old, who lived lives of hardship, it was an unparalleled artistic genre that brought enormous comfort.   Transmission and Evolution of Pansori Literature   Pansori enjoyed huge popularity among the general public, and a wide variety of works were developed. But among these, it was only those that most entertained and moved audiences that survived and underwent further development. These are known as the twelve madang (song cycles) of pansori; of these, the five most popular are Chunhyangga (The song of Chunhyang), Simcheongga (The song of Simcheong), Heungbuga (The song of Heungbu), Sugungga (The song of the Underwater Palace) and Jeokbyeokga (The song of the Red Cliffs). These are known as the five madang of pansori. These five works remained popular for centuries and have undergone many variations in terms of both music and narrative. Chunhyangga alone can be said to comprise several hundred different works. This is the result of ongoing shifts as numerous sorikkun changed the contents and expressions of the work in their own ways. The literary value conveyed by these works has in no way faded over time. When performed by a solo voice, their emotive powers are even greater. With the advent of the twentieth century and modernity, these five pansori works continued to thrive. Even today, they constitute the main canon of pansori. In addition to the traditional two-person performance format of singer and accompanist, they are sometimes performed on larger scales as grandiose traditional-style changgeuk (operas). The state-run National Changgeuk Company of Korea performs new works every year and both Koreans and foreigners have enjoyed many of these changgeuk. One work has even been directed by an overseas artist: Achim Freyer’s 2011 production of Sugungga, titled Mr. Rabbit and Dragon King in English. Meanwhile, many newer pansori works reflecting the current era are being created and performed. More than a thousand such new pansori works have been created since Korea’s liberation in 1945, some to considerable acclaim. Some of the best known examples include Ojeok (Five bandits) and Ttongbada (Sea of excrement), biting satires of Korea’s dictatorial regimes, and Owol Gwangju (Gwangju in May), a passionate account of the Gwangju democracy struggle, all of which are occasionally performed even today. Some comedic pansori created by young sorikkun have also been highly popular. Syupeodaek ssireum daehoe chuljeongi (Mrs. Super’s wrestling match) has been performed over a hundred times at various festivals. In the realm of cinema, there has been a steady stream of film adaptions of the five madang. These include Shin Sang-ok’s Simcheongjeon (The Tale of Sim Chong), Im Kwon-taek’s Chunhyangdyeon (The Tale of Chunhyang) and Kim Dae-woo’s Bangjajeon (The Servant). The film Seopyeonje, based on the novel by Yi Chong-jun, has been often cited as the best film on pansori. Directed by Im Kwon-taek, the film set a box office record upon its release, moving many viewers to tears. It was followed by several other films that have brought pansori music to the silver screen, including Hwimori, Cheonnyeonhak (Beyond the Years), Dori hwaga (The Sound of a Flower) and Sorikkun. Key pansori-based musicals that have attracted wide public interest include Indangsu sarangga (Indangsu love song) and Seopyeonje. The latter is an adaptation of the hit film of the same name. Starring actors like Yi Ja-ram, it became highly popular. Yi herself caused a sensation with her experimental pansori musical adaptations of foreign novels such as The Old Man and the Sea and Bon Voyage, Mr. President! Recently, the alternative pop band Leenalchi has been gaining huge popularity for its youthful, unconventional, and modern reinterpretation of pansori. Pansori are valuable not only as a universal cultural asset from Korean antiquity, but a composite performing art genre with the potential to grow into new content for cultural communication. As a performance style, there is a high artistry that transcends the times. Pansori will continue to play an important role in the field of culture and art.   Shin Dong-hun Konkuk University   Translated by Ben Jackson2021-03-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=176essayPresenting KLN Korean Classics Korean literature has lately been met with a phenomenal global response. International readership is on the rise; prestigious awards are being bestowed on Korean authors and books. This is certainly good news for everybody at KLN, who have worked tirelessly to introduce Korean literature to a global audience. Going forward, we aim to do more. As with the history of Korea as a country, the history of its native literature is also long and extensive. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that contemporary Korean fiction remains heavily influenced by longstanding traditions in Korean literature and culture. These established traditions, combined with the formidable talents of individual authors, are culminating in glittering works of art. Such is the landscape of Korean literature today. For the last two years, KLN has presented curated offerings of Korean classics for its readers through its Inkstone section. Now, Inkstone is heading into its second season. As Korean literature has more than two thousand years of history, the sheer volume of its classics is quite impressive. Classical Korean literature encompasses orally transmitted folklore, classics written in hanja [Sino-Korean] and hanmun [Literary Chinese, or Literary Sinitic], and stories written in hangeul [Korean]. This wide range makes it a challenge to introduce the full scope of Korean classics in its entirety. Instead, we have chosen to focus more on the literary and cultural traditions that are especially relevant to contemporary Korean literature. Hopefully, these classics will offer insight into the sources behind Korean literature’s staying power, while at the same time providing creative inspiration to writers outside Korea. This new season of Inkstone hopes to be of more practical use for readers and writers alike. It will give priority consideration to literary traditions that are related to various expressive styles, the intriguing characters that appear in Korean classics, and the time and space contexts that serve as the backdrop to the various shenanigans that these characters get themselves into. This content will be divided into sixteen distinct themes that will be presented over the next two years.   For this issue, we introduce the musical tradition of pansori along with a look at the many deities in Korean lore. Pansori was chosen for its distinctive expressive style, while the spirits and gods of Korea make for a delightful cast of characters that exist across multiple time periods and contexts. We also anticipate that the learning curve for these two themes won’t be too steep, as many of our international readers may already be familiar with Korean pansori and folk gods. Pansori is a traditional performance that integrates singing and storytelling. Historically, it has had an outsized influence on Korean literature. In the pansori tradition, music and storytelling are seamlessly intertwined; the performance is rich with expansive narrative techniques, and is not far removed from a musical or theater production. Given its flexible, forgiving format, pansori has inspired numerous contemporary interpretations and surprising new twists. In an inviting, warmly written essay, Professor Shin Dong-hun gives an overview of pansori as well as a description of its impact on contemporary Korean culture. Traditionally, the gods and spirits of Korean folklore have been deeply tied to shamanism, Buddhism, and other religious beliefs. Later, as Korea became more responsive to outside, foreign influences, these gods underwent transformations in both shape and substance. These otherworldly beings must be fully appreciated to understand how Korean culture has evolved over the years, which is why it is only natural that folk gods assume a major role in traditional Korean literature. Professor Maurizio Riotto, an expert in Korean history and culture, provides a succinct, focused look at this theme. In contemporary Korean literature and popular culture, images of the Other are often represented in the form of gods (or of faiths). When we attempt to identify the causes behind the pathological circumstances that affect Korean society today, we often find ourselves confronting the rather cheerless, gloomy manifestations of folk gods who float to the surface from our societal subconscious. These spiritual beings serve as reference points, giving shape to surreal, supernatural beings, forces, or phenomena, particularly when there are changes to the time and space continuum (for instance, time travel or expeditions to otherworldly realms such as outer space or the life beyond), which necessitate alterations to the physical bodies of the characters. In fact, this is a common practice not only in Korea but elsewhere across the world. We hope that these sixteen forthcoming classic Korean themes will help guide our readers into a deeper appreciation of the fullness and breadth of contemporary Korean literature and culture.   Ryu Junpil Seoul National University   Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim2021-03-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=581essayThe Mourning Cries of Two Royal Women: Hanjungnok and Ai tư vãnA classic prose text of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), Hanjungnok (Records written in silence) chronicles the depths of one’s innermost heart. The work, which is also available in English as The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong, is an aching recollection of the singular experiences in the life of its author, Lady Hong Hyegyeong. As a whole, the text echoes with the fitful mourning cries of Her Majesty, who was first-hand witness to the volatile and painful period of history transpiring behind secluded palace gates. Upon reading Hanjungnok, I naturally recalled the Empress of the Northern Palace (Bắc cung Hoàng hậu), Lê Ngọc Hân, and her book Ai tư vãn (Songs of grief). The life and work of Lê Ngọc Hân bear remarkable similarity to that of Hyegyeong. Lady Hyegyeong was daughter to the senior official Hong Bong-han, and a descendent of King Seonjo’s daughter, Princess Jeongmyeong. At nine years of age, Hyegyeong was selected to be the legal wife of Crown Prince Sado. Though Crown Prince Sado was killed prior to taking the throne and Lady Hyegyeong never ascended to Queen, she did eventually become the mother of King Jeongjo (r. 1776–1800), and later grandmother of King Sunjo (r. 1800–1834). After King Yeongjo and his successor Jeongjo passed away, Lady Hyegyeong lost her position in court due to the shift in power to Queen Consort Jeongsun, second wife to King Yeongjo. But in time, Lady Hyegyeong was able to regain her position in the royal family and left a great influence on that period of the Joseon dynasty. As for the Empress of the Northern Palace, Lê Ngọc Hân was the daughter of Emperor Lê Hiển Tông of the Lê dynasty, and later ordained Empress of the Northern Palace as the concubine to Emperor Quang Trung of the Tây Sơn dynasty (1778–1802). After Emperor Quang Trung passed away, Lê Ngọc Hân was cut off from the court as power shifted to the maternal relatives of Emperor Cảnh Thịnh, son of Emperor Quang Trung and his legal wife. But this period of isolation came to an end when Lê Ngọc Hân’s sister by the same father, the Princess Lê Ngọc Bình, became the Main Empress of Emperor Cảnh Thịnh. And thus, Lê Ngọc Hân gradually reclaimed her influence over the Tây Sơn dynasty. In terms of stature, Lady Hyegyeong and Lê Ngọc Hân were both of noble birth and exerted great influence on the royal court in their times. And it is not only for this reason that the lives of the two empresses bear uncanny similarities. After Crown Prince Sado’s execution in a large wooden rice chest, Lady Hyegyeong was made to leave the imperial palace and return to her parents’ house with her ten-year-old son, the future King Jeongjo, and her two daughters, eight-year-old Princess Cheongyeon and six-year-old Princess Cheongseon. Likewise, after Emperor Quang Trung’s death, the Empress of the Northern Palace also left the imperial palace, but not to return to her parents’ house. Rather, Lê Ngọc Hân went to Kim Tiên1  pagoda near the Đan Dương2 palace in order to mourn her late husband and raise their two young children who at the time were still very small: Princess Nguyễn Thị Bảo Ngọc was two, and Prince Nguyễn Quang Đức was just a year old. Though both women left the imperial palaces after the deaths of their husbands, only Lady Hyegyeong was able to eventually return as mother and then grandmother of the King. Lê Ngọc Hân died when she was twenty-nine years old, leaving behind her ten-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, both of whom also died young due to the vengeful hands of the Nguyễn dynasty.3 This is the main difference in the lives of the two. However, the most important and fundamental point of similarity between Lady Hyegyeong and the Empress of the Northern Palace Lê Ngọc Hân is their immortalization through outstanding works of literature that they themselves wrote. Though perhaps not intending to compose such works of poetic beauty, both left behind works that contributed a star to their national literary constellations. Lady Hyegyeong wrote Hanjungnok for her descendants to express the incomparable pain of her loss. Empress of the Northern Palace Lê Ngọc Hân wrote Ai tư vãn to mourn her husband and share her tormented sadness. Hanjungnok is a memoir composed of four sections, each composed at a different time with a different purpose. The first part, My Life, was written in 1795 following the request of her nephew who wished for her to leave behind writing for the family. The subsequent parts, In Defense of My Family; Records Written in Tears (1802) and In Defense of My Family; Additional Record of 1806, provide accounts of her family to clear their names. My Husband, Crown Prince Sado, started in 1802 and completed in 1805, sheds light on questions regarding the incident of 1762, the year of her husband’s execution. In this last section, Lady Hyegyeong deftly chronicles the events surrounding her life of misfortune, as well as the wretched history of Crown Prince Sado. The work is flooded with agony, choked out in sobs amid life’s tempests and thorns. She has described her experience of writing Hanjungnok with a “fitful mind and disheveled insides, my tears flooding every word and sentence.” Hanjungnok is a profoundly touching text, each word written as if pulled from the depths of Her Majesty’s secluded soul. Differently motivated, Ai tư vãn was written as a tribute to Emperor Quang Trung—the illustrious hero and beloved husband of the Empress of the Northern Palace whom she respected and trusted throughout her life. Ai tư vãn is thought to have been composed in 1792, not long after the Emperor Quang Trung’s sudden demise.4 It consists of 164 lines of the traditional Vietnamese seven-seven-six-eight form (song thất lục bát) and can be divided into four parts. Part One (lines 1–8) details the Empress of the Northern Palace Lê Ngọc Hân’s sorrowful situation upon her much adored husband’s death. Part Two (lines 9–40) recalls the couple’s serene and happy memories, Lê Ngọc Hân’s caring devotion to her sick husband, and the utter shock of his sudden departure. Part Three (lines 41–156) imparts the bleakness of bottomless lamentation for Emperor Quang Trung, the hero from humble beginnings who, with gracious humanity, built an illustrious career and formidable reputation among his enemies. In the concluding Part Four (lines 157–164), Lê Ngọc Hân mournfully returns to her turbulent life of vicissitudes as she sobs to the heavens asking for mercy on the deceased. A few researchers have claimed that the rhythmic artistry in Ai tư vãn does not reach that of Cung oán ngâm (The complaints of an odalisque) or Chinh phụ ngâm (Lament of the soldier’s wife).5 Nevertheless, the author’s tragically raw state transports her words into the very depths of readers’ hearts:   So exhausting, the unjust machinations of fate In a blink, clouds swallow His blessed chariot A gathering, a parting, a tear, a laugh, oh ephemeral life! I’ll tell you: it was years we had together Fate of the floating fern, of the cloud Our serendipity clipped—that’s it. But who will catch this body’s collapse? A whole sleepless night, a darkened day But who can extinguish this pain? I wait and wait myself into a dream Of visions vague, my stunning stupor!   Like Hanjungnok, Ai tư vãn is the mournful, heart-wrenching wail of someone facing life’s “vicissitudes.” It is not the flowery rhymes but the feelings surging in the chest and rising to the tip of the pen that enable these two works to burrow into readers’ hearts and withstand the test of time.   Thi Bich Phuong Tran Thang Long University2020-09-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=580essayIn Praise of the Essay and Yi Gyubo’s Poetics The essay or non-fictional prose may not appeal to as many readers of literature as fiction or poetry. A common perception might be that essays are not as entertaining as fictional stories or as aesthetically pleasing as poems, but rather, are boring or didactic due to their subjective narrative. The subjective voice may irritate some readers while for others it may fuel their curiosity about the author’s intention and life. In my case, the latter applies as I was always drawn to essays as far as I can remember. As a student, the essays of Montaigne, Rousseau, Thoreau and Woolf captivated my interest with their engaging observations and commentaries on a diverse range of topics that were relevant to particular moments in each of their times and places in history. As much as I enjoy fiction for stories that transport me to different places of an imagined yet possible or probable reality, when I read an essay I find myself in the presence of the author, engaging with them as they speak to me in eloquent prose to share their ideas and perspectives. The essay captures a private moment of personal thoughts in time, in history, when a writer becomes inspired to jot them down and reflect upon them. As narratives stemming from lived experience, they are historically relevant – perhaps even more compelling than history books – and readers may find the accounts relatable to their own lives and interests, even if they are from different eras and cultures. As a literary genre, prose writings or essays collectively known as supil in Korean have a long-standing tradition in East Asian literary culture that continues today. Traditionally, there were different generic terms for essays depending on their topic, purpose, style or emphasis. Among Korean authors of traditional essays, Yi Gyubo (1168–1241) from the Goryeo period (918–1392) captivated my interest from the first time I encountered his works during my graduate studies in Korean literature. Though he was an author writing in classical Chinese (hanmun) around eight hundred years ago, his works embody traits which I consider ‘modern’ and relevant to us in our times. Renowned for his prolific literary execution, original approach and creativity associated with ‘new meaning’, his works attest to a self-aware writer who conveyed his reality and personal opinions with perceptive observations and incisive analysis of Korean history and culture. According to the Goryeosa (History of Goryeo, 1451), so extraordinary were his literary skills and talent that they won him a government post even relatively late in life. As one of Korea’s most prolific authors, Yi Gyubo produced an extensive collection of writings which were compiled by his son, Yi Ham, as the Dongguk Yisangguk jip (DGYSGJ, Collected works of Minister Yi of Korea, 1241 and 1251) for posterity. Consisting of two parts and fifty-three fascicles of poetry and prose of approximately forty different genres, most works from this collection are also found in the Dongmunseon (Anthology of Korean literature, 1478 and 1518), a court-decreed anthology of early Korean literature compiled during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), confirming Yi’s place in the Korean literary canon. He continued to be referenced and lauded throughout the Joseon period and in the modern era. As an author from the Goryeo period, he wrote all his works in classical Chinese but they are available to twenty-first century readers in modern Korean translation, with a limited selection of works in English and other foreign languages in Korean literature anthologies and journals. Among Yi’s considerable literary corpus, “Dongmyeong wang pyeon” (Lay of King Dongmyeong) is perhaps one of his most well-known for its historiographical significance and lyrical eloquence, along with a selection of his poems, poetry criticism (sihwa), and essays. In this essay, I wish to outline some of his ideas about poetry and writing presented in his prose pieces or essays from the DGYSGJ. Yi Gyubo reflected on the essential or metaphysical nature of poetry in his notable essay “Nonsijung miji yageon” (Discussion on essential and obscure matters of poetry, DGYSGJ I: 22). Following the traditional view that creative talent is an inherent quality based on the poet’s gi (breath or vital energy), Yi emphasised the close relationship between meaning or ideas (eui) and the poet’s gi. He highlights eui as the essence of poetry, gi as the essence of eui which ‘derives from heaven’. Thus, those with weak gi may produce elegant verses but as there are ‘no layers, depth or substance of eui within, they may impress and appeal at first but soon lose their lustre and bear no taste when discerned thereafter’. With his knowledge of Literary Sinitic culture and poetics and his masterful talent with words, he goes on to identify ‘nine indecorous modes or methods’ (gubureuiche) for composing poetry as follows:   Citing too many names of the old masters in a poem results in a ‘cartload of ghosts’. Stealing even good ideas of the old masters is wrong, but stealing bad ones is ‘appropriation by fumbled theft’. Placing emphatic rhymes without basis is ‘drawing crossbows with no victory’. Excessive rhyming beyond one’s talent is ‘boozing without moderation’. Enjoying the use of obscure characters to captivate people is ‘ditchdigging to lure in the blind’. Persisting to use unyielding words is ‘coercing to follow’. Frequent use of colloquialisms is akin to a ‘gabfest of yokels’. Partiality to discern and criticise is to ‘disregard the sages’. Failing to pare unrefined phrases results in a ‘field full of weeds’. If one is able to avoid these indecorous modes, then one can speak of poetry.1   Here Yi cautions against excessive references to old masters, appropriation or plagiarism, gratuitous use of emphatic rhymes, excessive rhyming, obscure characters, unyielding words, colloquialisms, overt criticism, and failing to polish and refine verses effectively. He adds that the same rules apply to literary prose. As conventional or obvious as these points may seem, the way in which he presents them is expressively demonstrative, subjective and original, reflecting Yi’s literary wit and craftmanship. Yi Gyubo was a firm believer that writing should be inspired by and express the author’s personal experience. An example of this is found in an essay entitled “Wang mungong guksi eui” (Deliberations on Wang Anshi’s poem on chrysanthemums, DGYSGJ II: 11), in which Yi states ‘poetry is that which presents things seen’, so the source of poetry must stem from experience based on what the poet has witnessed first-hand, rather than from other poetry based on what others have written about. When explaining or defending one’s work, the poet should then reference their experience, not works written by other poets (for which he criticises Wang Anshi in the account he discusses). Referencing the classics were in fact part of the literary conventions of Yi Gyubo’s time, which encouraged reverence and emulation of the great poets. However, Yi was known for not always adhering to convention and frequently criticised emulation or imitation as thievery. He believed that no matter how carefully people revised their works with stylistic embellishments, those based on another were essentially “copy” versions that would lack variety and character. In a reply to his friend Jeon Iji (“Dap Jeon Iji nonmunseo”, DGYSGJ I: 26) he lamented, ‘as people’s love for dazzlement is greater than ever today, they desire and appreciate even stolen goods so long as they please the eyes. Who will know of the original work from which an imitation was derived?’ Yi often expressed his reluctance to follow conventions that merely repeated or imitated old language and styles, which future generations might render redundant and meaningless; but he was also aware that changing them would be subject to derision by people in his time. Jeon Iji apparently praised Yi Gyubo for not blindly adhering to common conventions, and for creating words – by Yi’s own admission, ‘unusual and strange words’ – that created new meanings (sineui), ‘which have startled the eyes and ears of all people’. While Yi offered a humble explanation of not being well versed in the classics which caused him to make up words when asked to recite poetry, he was in fact extremely erudite, but stressed provenance and originality. He does not hide his sense of pride when he declares, ‘Ancient poets created meanings, not words; I create meanings with words without embarrassment’. His ideas on new words (sineo) to convey and express new meaning (sineui) have been discussed extensively by Korean scholars, whereby Yi Gyubo has been commonly associated with the so-called sineuiron or ‘new meaning theory’ in Korean literary scholarship. He has been celebrated by successive generations of writers and scholars for practising what he preached through an impressive body of writings that included spontaneous observations, critical discussions, poetic expressions, as well as official responses on a diverse range of topics ranging from the socio-historical and political to personal and private matters.   Grace Koh SOAS, University of London   2020-09-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=583essayGoodbye and Hello, Chunhyang: A Brief Discussion on The Tale of Chunhyang in All Its Rich VariationsThe Tale of Chunhyang is the most popular Korean folktale whose earliest extant record dates back to the seventeenth century. Since then, it has maintained its cultural status by adapting to different genres and media. The plot is simple: star-crossed lovers reunite after overcoming numerous obstacles. It is a fairy tale in that the actual union of an upper class yangban and a female courtesan gisaeng, who held the lowest status in Joseon society, is as likely as a wealthy businessman marrying a sex worker (remember Pretty Woman?).  The Tale of Chunhyang, however, underwent a major transformation at the turn of the twentieth century when a famous writer took it upon himself to educate and “modernize” the masses. This writer, Yi Hae-jo, rewrote the story in hangeul under the new title “The Imprisoned Flower” (Okjunghwa) in 1912. His adaptation focuses less on the class conflict but more on the young and beautiful couple’s romance, albeit with an emphasis on Chunhyang’s chastity and virtue. He thus avoided the sexual innuendo and symbols rampant in many older variations. Yi never explicitly explained why he chose The Tale of Chunhyang, which he openly disapproved of despite its beloved status. Yi felt that people should be reading new novels and foreign literature to learn about the new modern world. To his dismay, however, his version immediately attracted a wide readership and became the prototype of further adaptations. Particularly from the 1920s, the folktale gained new momentum when it was adapted on screen as both the first silent film as well as the first talkie film of Korea. The Tale of Chunhyang was refashioned into a modern romance on screens and in theaters and even those who could not afford to buy tickets could now hear audio versions from their generous neighbors’ gramophones that were quickly becoming a must-have item. The film adaptations of the folktale that quickly became a guaranteed ticket seller thus served as “new modes of organizing vision and sensory perception” and catalyzed what Miriam Hansen calls “vernacular modernism.”1 Spurred on by its enduring popularity, “Chunhyang” in particular gained cultural significance when Korean and Japanese intellectuals engaged in many roundtable discussions about the translatability of the folktale. Korean intellectuals argued that Chunhyang’s indomitable spirit and her unsurpassed “single-hearted devotion” could not be translated into other languages. Her willingness to defy the evil magistrate and give up her life to hold true to her love resonated with many Koreans who resented the Japanese for occupying their nation and taking their freedom away from them. In this way Chunhyang became a national allegory and a paragon of virtuous femininity, maintaining its cultural status and visibility even in postwar Korea.  Some writers, however, attempted to transform Chunhyang into a “new woman” or a “wild shrew” who was not so willing to let men have their own way with her. Kim Gyu-taek (1906‒1962), for example, published two comic adaptations in 1932 and 1941 (though he never completed the latter due to Japan’s total war mobilization effort that shut down many Korean publishing industries). In his comic adaptations, written in hangeul mixed with Chinese characters as well as with Romanized Japanese and English words, Kim envisions Chunhyang as a “modern girl” determined to hold on to her lover lest he cheat on her or desert her for a better life in the city. Aptly entitled, “The Tale of Modern Chunhyang” (Modeon Chunhyangjeon) and “The Tale of Willful Chunhyang” (Eokji Chunhyangjeon) respectively, Kim illustrates Korea caught between the old and new ways of life. Instead of the traditional Korean instrument gayageum, Chunhyang plucks guitar strings to sing for her beloved next to photos of iconic silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow. She eagerly waits for a mailman to deliver her love letters while her in-laws fret over the cost of a diamond ring they may have to purchase for their prospective daughter-in-law. Meanwhile, the lovers toast their union with beer instead of rice wine, and later the town welcomes the new magistrate with orchestral music and waltz dances. Yi Mongryong, Chunhyang’s lover also appears as a “modern boy,” packing whiskey and lighting a cigar as he drives the “donkey car” to Gwanghallu Pavilion. There, through his binoculars, he watches Chunhyang riding a swing to compete in a national contest.  Instead of a meek Chunhyang tearfully sending her beloved away, Kim portrays her as an enraged vixen whose face blows up to the size of “White Tiger Z,” the first German airplane to ever fly over Korea in 1929. She throttles Mongryong so hard that his eyes bulge and his tongue hangs loosely from his drooling mouth. She soon releases him but tearfully warns him that she will kill herself so her angry spirit can gouge his eyes out if he ever looks at another woman. Or she will become an evil monster who will devour him alive if he dare sleeps around. Gone is the chaste and virtuous Chunhyang: she is a transformed woman capable of throwing a chair at the new magistrate when he tries to rape her. For her defiance, she is about to be punished by “waterboarding,” the most common torture method for political prisoners and independent fighters in colonial Korea. However, she takes matters into her own hands and removes her clothes to reveal a swimsuit underneath before nimbly climbing onto a hanging bar and swinging herself upside down “like a true Olympic gymnast.” Sure enough, just a few years prior to Kim’s publications, women began participating in the world gymnastic events for the first time in history.  Finally, Chunhyang declares her “single-hearted devotion” to her husband Mongryong when she rejects the new magistrate’s order to serve him. This particular section of the comic book thus shows Mongryong’s face cheering her on from the top corner of the image frame, urging her to be steadfast and to prove her chastity to a world in which such virtue has long disappeared. The modern world as they know it and as showcased by Kim Gyu-taek is the one in which new or foreign goods flood the market: Gucci products, almond-papaya facial creams, high heels, and fashionable Western suits. Similarly, modern girls and boys freely roamed the streets of Korea, visualizing modernity vis-à-vis consumer culture (beer, guitars, gramophones, etc.) or new images (new woman, modern girl) and values (the freedom to date before marriage or the right to choose one’s spouse).  Many more parodies followed even in postwar Korea: sometimes Chunhyang is a sex worker (yanggongju) who waits in futility for her lover, an American soldier, to return to Korea and save her from despair and poverty (“This Chunhyang,” 1958). She is a conniving scam artist determined to improve her lot by luring a rich man (“A Song from Prison,” 1990). In a Japanese cartoon, she is a sorceress who saves and protects innocent people from corrupt officials and evil monsters (“A New Tale of Chunhyang,” 1996). She even falls in love with a male servant in the most recent film adaptation (The Servant, 2010). Such parodies completely broke away from the canonized version of the folktale and served as a political or social satire of Korean society but could not attain the same cultural status of the virtuous Chunhyang.  That is, not until a TV drama titled Delightful Girl Chunhyang aired in 2005. The folktale had resurfaced in the mainstream just when it seemed ready to recede into the background and exist merely as a concept or value from a bygone period. The main character in the drama is not afraid to pursue her man, but is ready to leave him for another should he fail to appreciate her love. She’s a capable woman in her own right and does not need a knight in shining armor as she is the one doing the rescuing. By shifting its focus to the young lovers’ growth from youth to adulthood, the drama portrayed them as individuals with flaws whose uncertainties resonated with contemporary audiences from Korea and abroad. Audiences now seem to crave for and desire a new prototype of femininity, or rather, a drastic transformation of the folktale but one that keeps its ideal romance intact. Or it might be that they are simply ready to say goodbye to the old Chunhyang and welcome a new one that is determined to pave her own path. Perhaps Chunhyang will undergo another metamorphosis and reclaim her cultural status befitting a new, twenty-first century Korea.   1 See the text of the UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), which emphasizes protection and preservation of cultural heritage. Kwon Kyong-Mi Ewha Womans University2020-06-11 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=582essayPushing for Poetry, AgainA mid-Joseon period writer with English proficiency roaming the bookstores of twenty-first century America would marvel with disbelief at what he would find on the shelves under the heading “Classical Korean Literature”: some literary histories of Korea; a small number of modern anthologies, like the wonderful recent Premodern Korean Literary Prose by Michael Pettid and others, some volumes of individual poets, an increasing number of translations of classical fiction, some historical works, and, excitingly, a new volume of philosophical prose from Korea’s largest literary anthology, Korea’s Premier Collection of Classical Literature: Selections from Sŏ Kŏjŏng’s Tongmunsŏn. Yet, in all likelihood he would probably say: “Where is our beloved court poetry?” Where are hansi, poetry in Sino-Korean or Literary Chinese?  Hansi pervaded the life of the educated elites. So much so that the poet-monk Kim Siseup (1435–1493) when passing the Taedong River on his travels had the river ask him: “How many will you write—new poems in new places?” Poetry in Literary Chinese, or “Literary Sinitic,” as scholars also call it now, was a lifelong companion to the upper classes. They were a centerpiece of literacy training, featuring in typical anecdotes of precocity. Kim Siseup, for one, wrote his first poem at age three and was rewarded for his poetic skill when the astonished King Sejong had him received at court at age five. They were central to the civil service exams, reasserted as an exam genre under King Sejong. Facility in hansi composition was expected at court events, and dashing off travel poems on the road was a naturalized impulse. But hansi were not just quotidian social currency. Recently, Sim Kyung-ho put this poignantly: “Hansi poems are the flower of Sino-Korean literature. Because they evoke the feelings, excitements, and ideas of poets through plain language, metaphorical imagery and intimations of mood, they convey subtle flavors and aesthetic tensions more than any other form of literature.”  Given the high historical status of hansi and Sim’s argument for their aesthetic sublimity, it is indeed surprising how very few hansi have been translated into English. Why this dearth? What is the problem with hansi and their translation for Anglophone readers? The reasons are many and complex. Macrohistorically, early twentieth century national language movements nourished by the new ideologies of nation- and empire-building precipitated the death of classical Sinitic poetry as a shared East Asian cultural practice. New Western-style universities instituted curricula focused on the “national canon” of vernacular—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese—literature, which is still engrained in today’s marginalization of departments or programs of Sinitic literature (hanmunhak), by the dominance of national literature studies (gungmunhak). National literature departments are the grail of national education. Literary histories, “slaves of the nation state,” as Hugo Meltzl (1846–1908), a nineteenth century comparative literature scholar from the multilingual region of Transylvania under the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, called them, have accordingly treated Sinitic poetry with little sympathy. Already the very first literary history of Korea, published by An Hwak in 1922, placed the novel and popular literature first, as venues of self-expression for the Korean people in the unbroken lineage that An claimed for Korean civilization. This was an empowering, desperately needed anticolonial move under the repressions of Japanese colonial rule. The birth of national literature studies that in South Korea could only fully flourish after liberation inverted the traditional genre hierarchy, upgrading the novel and dethroning hansi and hanmun. It has impacted the training of foreign Korean literature specialists, and echoes through Korean literary histories and anthologies in English. Peter Lee’s pioneering A History of Korean Literature and his Anthology of Korean Literature are to be applauded for systematically including hansi. Although they are demoted to the end of each section, after vernacular genres such as hyangga, Goryeo songs, sijo, or gasa, Lee strives for balance despite the inverted order. This holds also for Kevin O’Rourke’s stirring The Book of Korean Poetry: Songs of Shilla and Koryŏ, where he includes the early songs in hansi forms, all extant hyangga and vernacular Goryeo songs, alongside his own selections from the surviving hansi corpus. In contrast, David McCann’s Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions is explicitly sijo-centric and focuses on national origin narratives. There are a few hansi, but mostly by women, which is laudable but hardly representative of the tradition. Though central, national language ideology is only one among other formidable challenges, terminological, conceptual, world literary, and aesthetic. How to even call it? Hansi is a modern term for si (詩), and scholars have recently debated, for the Japanese case, whether to call them “Japanese poetry in Literary Chinese” (older term), “Sino-Japanese poetry,” “Japanese Chinese-style poetry,” or “Japanese poetry in Literary Sinitic” (most recent coinage). The difficulty in finding a term that not only expresses the cosmopolitan East Asian (and not just Chinese) nature of hansi but also captures their local peculiarities in Korea, Japan, or Vietnam puts hansi for Western readers into limbo: “Ah, THAT stuff that scholars can’t even agree on how to call in English!” These debates are not purely sophistic, but rooted in the enormous variety of East Asian writing and inscription practices, depending on place, period, and literary genre.  This is where yet another fascinating conceptual difficulty comes to light. Are we even justified to talk about “premodern Korean poetry in Literary Sinitic”? Sure, the history of Western literary terminology seems to give us the right to do so. Although the Greeks and Romans distinguished between very different types of poetry—epic poems, epigrams, elegies, you name it—Aristotle at least gave the Western world poetics, meta-literature, a critical type of discourse that even united genres as different as drama, lyric, and the epic under one conceptual umbrella. This created the category of “literary”/“poetic” writing, a construct absent from traditional East Asia in its comprehensive breadth. What do we do with the historical and comparative burden of the word “poetry” then? Well, celebrating the variety of “poetries,” by genre, period, and locale is a good start. Among the shared cosmopolitan genres there is the more antique four-syllable poetry, classical (“old-style” or “regulated”) poetry in five or seven syllables, “Music Bureau Poetry,” “prosimetric” rhapsodies, mixing poetry and prose, and also song-lyrics, ballads, and songs, to name just a few. But then there are fascinating local poetries. In Heian Japan, courtiers wrote “Topic Poems” (kudaishi) at official occasions, recasting a five-character line of a Chinese poem into a “regulated poem” based on a strict rhetorical template. Like Japanese waka poetry, this was a serious courtly game, an exercise in creating subtle differences in the emulation of earlier poems. Or consider Joseon-period gopung poetry, poetry written without rhyme or tonal patterns that would have read like “blank verse” or prose poetry to readers in other parts of East Asia. In contrast, Late Joseon exam poems were intricate, consisting of eighteen couplets and requiring unusual tonality rules and the use of a word from the title as a rhyme word at the end of the fourth couplet. Lastly, global reception history has not been as kind to Korean hansi. The American Beat poetry movement in the 1950s and 1960s propelled premodern Chinese and Japanese poetry and Zen to the creative forefront of the literary avant garde, elevating them to world literary status. Most notably, Gary Snyder translated classical Chinese and Japanese poems and carried them over into his own poetry. Undoubtedly, Korea was on the minds of poets loosely associated with the Beat movement: the Cold-War machinery that produced the Korean War only encouraged their political protest. But whereas classical Chinese and Japanese poetry had its heyday on the global literary stage, Korean hansi has yet to be discovered around the world—which can well happen if we put out more and appealing translations. Lastly, aesthetically, the high allusiveness of hansi and the emulative engagement with Chinese texts was a central part of Korea’s premodern Literary Sinitic tradition—how many poems were written in echoing Tang literary tastes! Unfortunately, this goes against our literary taste for innovation and doesn’t travel well today, especially in translation. What, then, can we do to solve the trouble with hansi? First, suspend for a breath the distorting ideology of the national literature paradigm and separate it from the looming shadows of political tensions and historical disputes in East Asia today. One of our best translators of Korean poetry confessed to me once that the greatest regret in life was to never have learnt hanmun—in a hangeul-centric world. With a different ideology and language and literature curriculum, we could have a thriving critical mass of Anglophone hansi translators. Second, grow and endow translation series, like UCLA’s The Korean Classics Library and other emerging translation series, which promise to bring Korean hansi in all their historical aesthetic complexity to a global audience in sparkling English. Then, make hansi translations accessible in obvious online locations, such as Sim Kyung-ho’s modern Korean renderings of Jeong Yakyong’s poetry on Naver. On many fronts South Korea is ahead of Japan in embracing their Literary Sinitic poetry as literary heritage for future generations by making it broadly available in modern translation. And, lastly, the old can be the new: in the 1920s, James Scarth Gale (1863–1937), a Canadian missionary and foundational figure for Korean Studies, included many poems in his History of the Korean People in tune with traditional Korean historiography and historical fiction. He was still closer to the historical truth about hansi. And we might take this to heart for a richer understanding of Korea’s literary tradition and our own personal delight to savor the sublime fragrances of this “flower of literature.”   Note: I would like to thank Johann Noh and Sookja Cho for their generous feedback on this article. Wiebke Denecke Boston University 2020-06-11 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=785essayKinship in the Bedroom: The Remarkable Reunion of Jade Mandarin DucksIn the society of late Joseon Korea (1392–1910), kinship constituted the crucial foundation for one’s identity, social network, and access to economic resources and education. The fleshing out of the Joseon patrilineage has been amply documented by social historians, who identified the ritual, institutional, and ideological underpinnings of this practice. Taking shape around the late seventeenth century, patrilineal kinship streamlined the transmission of property and ritual roles along the male line according to the principle of primogeniture. In terms of its philosophical foundations, this form of social life was inspired by the Confucian view of ideal human bonds, arranged through clear prescriptive hierarchies. In practice, these philosophical provisions laid guidelines for strategic action for the Joseon elites, who secured their credentials and privilege by impeccable adherence to the Confucian rites and social fundamentals. But apart from its institutional aspect, kinship is what people do in everyday life and how they view the world. The negotiation of the lived, everyday, domestic, affective dimension of Joseon kinship practice unfolded in an archive of its own: the vernacular Korean lineage novel (gamun soseol) that thrived in the domestic quarters among elite female audiences. These lengthy texts—spanning tens and even hundreds of manuscript volumes—circulated in vernacular Korean manuscripts from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. Coeval with the emergence of the patrilineage, these texts capture the affective realignment engendered by the transformation of kinship practice. Articulating the gap between the social norm and the person, lineage novels achieve a delicate balance between conduct-book prescription and subversive commentary. Confrontations between the protagonists’ wills and characters erupt in a variety of domestic conflicts, which paint kinship, and particularly the dimension of its domestic experience, as a site of continuous contestation. At the same time, the happy-end resolutions of these texts that depict the succession of ever new generations of a given lineage institute kinship values as the highest horizon of moral human life: while kinship norms are exacting and often difficult to manage, they are deemed to embody the fundamental ethical way of life. Lineage novels describe a variety of contested kinship bonds—between stepmothers and stepsons, fathers- and sons-in-law, wives and concubines, to name just a few. The central bond that ensures lineage perpetuity—marriage—also receives a great deal of attention. Marriages figure especially prominently in lineage novels that are centered on a “remarkable encounter” (gibong): a predestined meeting between the spouses, which leads to marriage over the course of all sorts of complications. A bond of immense social significance, marriage in the lineage novel is depicted as an intensely personal relationship, aggravated by the spouses’ tempers and the circumstances of their encounter. A novel that zooms into the minutest details of the conjugal bond is The Remarkable Reunion of Jade Mandarin Ducks (Ogwon jaehap giyeon), known to have been in circulation in the eighteenth century. Like other lineage novels, Jade Mandarin Ducks is an anonymous text, and its rich manuscript history, unfortunately, exceeds the scope of this essay. The jade mandarin ducks referenced in the title are charismatic nuptial tokens, which signify the connection between the spouses. The narrative revolves around the contested relationship between So Segyeong and his wife, Yi Hyeonyeong. The couple’s betrothal, arranged at an early age, reflects the long-standing connection between the Yi and the So lineages. The links of friendship and patronage notwithstanding, the marriage pledge is reneged upon by Yi Hyeonyeong’s father as soon as So Segyeong’s father falls into disfavor at court. Fleeing political persecution, So Segyeong dons a maid’s dress and enters service in the house of his prospective father-in-law. His charge, ironically, is his betrothed, Yi Hyeonyeong, who quickly grows fond of her new maid, who appears distinctly refined against all the domestic servants Hyeonyeong was used to. Needless to say, the titillating bodily proximity runs as a red thread through the relationship of the couple, bonded through marriage pledge, but separated through life’s vagaries. Changing settings, locations, outfits, and roles, So Segyeong and Yi Hyeonyeong encounter each other time and again, until they are properly married and settled into their roles of husband and wife. By introducing the possibility of choice, attraction, and the drawn-out coming to terms of the two predestined (and prearranged) spouses, the lineage novel locates the bedroom—the inner domestic space of intimacy—as the crucial site for negotiating the norms and values of kinship. The titillating, intimate aspect of Hyeonyeong and Segyeong’s encounter casts no shadow on the purity of the two, especially not on Hyeonyeong, expected to follow the strict code of chastity prescribed for all Joseon women. But if the prospective spouses unwittingly share occasional intimate scenes, the mildly scandalizing aspect of these fortuitous, often flustering encounters is certainly directed at the reader, who is introduced to the intimate dimension of kinship life in a manner that transforms the prescriptive bonds of Confucian sociality into life worlds, spaces for living. The very first encounter of Segyeong and Hyeonyeong that takes place in Hyeonyeong’s room leaves Segyeong discomfited. After paying compliments to Segyeong’s distinguished appearance and comportment (and here he appears in a maid’s guise), Hyeonyeong articulates her desire for strengthening the mistress-servant bond and in a gesture of good will offers Segyeong some of her clothing. Segyeong accepts the gift reluctantly, and he is soon perplexed by another offer from Hyeonyeong—to sleep at her feet. While Segyeong succeeds at contriving a morally sound excuse from both propositions, Segyeong hardly appears to be at his best advantage—dressed as a woman, and positioned as inferior to his betrothed, which reverses the accepted male-female hierarchy. The second encounter between these prospective spouses takes place after both Segyeong and Hyeonyeong flee from her father’s house: Segyeong is pestered by the amorous advances of Hyeonyeong’s father, enthralled by the maid’s charms, while Hyeonyeong escapes an unwanted marriage arrangement, pursued by her father out of greed for political advancement. In a roadside encounter, Hyeonyeong and Segyeong’s roles are reversed. It is Hyeonyeong now who hides her true appearance donning male garb. At a glance, Hyeonyeong realizes that Segyeong was the one who pretended to be her maid, although she is still unaware that the two are betrothed. Hyeonyeong orders Segyeong to his knees to acknowledge his wrongdoing, as no man is allowed to transgress the space of a woman’s boudoir (a serious crime from the perspective of the chastity ideal), and even goes so far as to throw a knife at Segyeong. To get his own way with her, Segyeong drags Hyeonyeong into an adjacent room and says that she should abandon her pretenses and just marry him, although he does not disclose that the two have long been betrothed. Hyeonyeong stays faithful to her ideal, and at the first opportune moment she throws herself into the river, leaving Segyeong quite impressed by her upright spirit. But it is not just her moral character that stands out: Dressed in the stately male garb, her exceptional beauty emanated all the more exquisitely. Fast-forwarding past further incidents, magical interventions, and fortunate coincidences, we find Segyeong and Hyeonyeong in the bedroom once again. Now, they are husband and wife. A tender scene follows the birth of Segyeong and Hyeonyeong’s second child. Segyeong’s gaze scans over the body of his wife, who feels unwell, and this intimate process of looking appropriates Hyeonyeong’s body into the privatized space of intimacy: Because of his restless thoughts, Segyeong could not fall asleep, and propping himself on his pillow he looked [at Hyeonyeong, his wife]. The light flowed from the crescent moon into the window. Seated close by, Hyeonyeong was stuck in the position in which the nurse had put her [on the bed]. The elusive fragrance [of her body] excited [Segyeong’s] nostrils, and her posture was not at all like that of an ill person. Hyeonyeong’s slender waist, drooping head, and chiseled shoulders were all so exquisite as to make cranes and wild geese rise in a dance. This indeed was a beauty balanced with proper cultivation. Any man lying in the same room would have his good senses excited. Segyeong thought to himself, “Her appearance is indeed not like that of a sick person, so why does she have so many ailments? The Book of Rites mentions five types of women unfit for marriage, and among them is the sickly woman. The only son who must continue his family line, I ended up with this sickly woman only because of her lofty virtue and noble character. Since she has given me her body, I cannot throw her out on the account of her sickness. Although [I] cannot use her body, her eyes and ears are sound, and her speech clever, so with her exquisite beauty and wisdom she was my good companion. How did it happen that she became so ill? Even without thinking of the old days I am saddened and full of pity, but now when I look back I am overcome with regret and grief, as though my own body was ailing.” The last two lines situate the script of desire (Any man lying in the same room would have his good senses excited) and the script of duty (Segyeong’s pondering on the continuation of his lineage) in the very body of Segyeong, who feels as though his own flesh is failing him. By transforming lineage bodies into surfaces of intimacy and unmediated, nonritualized contact, the lineage novel opens up alternative spaces for kinship experience: the intimate economy of bodily proximity and the inner rooms of domestic, everyday living quarters. The husband-wife relationship, one of three fundamental human bonds, is here rethought as a relationship of intimacy, and mutual coming to terms, even while lineage novels steer clear of the notion of socially exfoliating, romanticized desire. The setting and the final horizon for this delicately wrought relationship between two spouses is continuity of the lineage.   Ksenia Chizhova Asst. Professor of East Asian Studies Princeton University2020-03-13 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=584essayEngaging Pansori as a Living OrganismOriginating in the lower classes, pansori is Korea’s epic storytelling tradition. A popular form of entertainment performed by a standing singer-narrator (gwangdae) and a drummer (gosu), pansori was first recorded by literati in the mid-eighteenth century. According to the general consensus in Korean scholarship, pansori reached the apex of its popularity in the nineteenth century and then began a gradual decline in the twentieth century. During the Park Chung-hee regime, pansori was designated as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Korean government in 1964. On the global stage, pansori became one of the first internationally recognized forms of Korean cultural heritage when it was named a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. By emphasizing measures for protection and preservation, these local and international efforts have contributed to the perception of pansori as endangered or fossilized.1 Unlike some world oral traditions such as the Greek Homeric epic for which the music no longer exists, pansori continues to be performed today. Laurent Aubert characterizes music as a “living organism in constant mutation,”2 and pansori is no exception. While the Korean government and international agencies have framed the tradition as dying or endangered, this essay suggests that pansori flourished through transformations in the twentieth century and is continuing to proliferate.   Continuing Orality in Contemporary Korean Poetry Beyond the five extant pansori tales from the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), pansori is present in modern and contemporary Korean literature. The work of feminist poet Kim Hyesoon demonstrates how writing became a mode of oral performance for pansori in the twentieth century. Looking closely at Kim’s poem “Remembering the Day I Gave Birth to a Daughter” (1985) as an oral performance in the mode of pansori narrative can help elucidate how pansori has been received by contemporary authors and how the genre has been extended in the present. The poem starts with the line: “pansori saseoljoro.” 3What is a line instructing the reader to imagine pansori music doing in a written text of a poem in the late twentieth century? How does this line alter our perceptions and experience of what follows in the poem, which never explicitly mentions pansori again in its narration of childbirth? By stepping outside of the voice of the lyric poem’s speaker and inscribing a directive to the reader, Kim’s role here is akin to that of a composer or conductor. Just as a composer might record specific directions on a score for a future performer on the tempo or style of a piece of music, Kim indicates how the poem should be read, while leaving the semantic content of the poem open to interpretation. The line can be translated as “In the melodic mode of pansori narrative.” Saseoljo is a neologism, bringing together two terms associated with pansori: saseol (辭說), which scholar and pansori performer Chan E. Park defines as the “linguistic content of lyric and narrative,”4 or the dramatic story which would constitute the written text of a pansori transcription, and jo (調), a melodic mode encompassing concepts such as emotional register, style of singing, and ornamentation. One further possibility is that Kim is borrowing from the term saseol sijo, an extended narrative version of the three-line lyric sijo form, replacing the music of sijo associated with the form with the music of pansori. With the opening line, Kim signals that this poem is an oral performance, asking readers to hear the sound of pansori in their minds. Kim has stated that because of the marginal position of women in Korean society, women’s literary traditions are rooted in Korean oral traditions such as the ancient songs of the godae gayo, hyangga from the Unified Silla (668–935 CE) period, and muga, shaman songs from Joseon.5 An examination of the melodic modes frequently used in pansori can further illuminate Kim’s use of jo in the poem. While Kim does not specify which mode the poem is in, gyemyeonjo and ujo are the most frequently sung melodic modes in pansori according to ethnomusicologist Yeonok Jang. Gyemyeonjo, which expresses sorrow, is the predominant mode employed in pansori and is also associated with representative folk songs from Jeolla Province such as “Yukchabaegi.” Ujo is interpreted as conveying majesty and cheerfulness, as found in “Sarang ga” (Song of Love) in The Song of Chunhyang. The narrative content of Kim’s poem of childbirth traverses both sorrow and great joy. Kim inscribes her text with the performance tradition of pansori, including the expressive qualities of pansori’s melodic modes. By creating a new literary melodic mode, Kim also extends a tradition in which pansori singers in the late Joseon period developed pansori singing by adding new modes and rhythms. In the first half of the nineteenth century, often called the “Age of the Eight Master Singers” (palmyeongchang), revered pansori singers such as Song Heungrok (1801–1863), who established the Eastern School Style of Singing, and Pak Yujeon (1835–1906), who established the Western School Style of Singing, created unique styles and expanded the musical repertoire and vocabulary. Writing becomes a mode of oral performance for Kim as she simultaneously borrows from the pansori tradition and extends it. Contemporary poems such as “Remembering the Day I Gave Birth to a Daughter” reveal how pansori remains a living organism. The word “pansori” is composed of the prefix pan, a space where people gather, and sori, sound. When gwangdae set down a straw mat in the open marketplaces or at village gatherings where pansori was traditionally performed, they opened a pan, this space where people gathered to hear the sounds of pansori. Invoking the communality of the oral tradition, Kim opens a pan on the page, creating a communal space where readers gather for a performance of sori.   1 See the text of the UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), which emphasizes protection and preservation of cultural heritage. 2 Laurent Aubert, The Music of the Other: New Challenges for Ethnomusicology in a Global Age (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007), 10. 3 For an English translation of the poem, see David McCann, ed., The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 248. 4 Chan E. Park, Voices from the Straw Mat: Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003), 309. 5 Don Mee Choi, “Korean Women—Poetry, Identity, Place: A Conversation with Kim Hye-sun,” positions: east asia cultures critique 11, no. 3 (Winter 2003): 529–539.   Ivanna Yi Visiting Asst. Professor of Korean University of Colorado Boulder 2020-03-13 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=586essaySamguk yusa: The Living (Hi)storyThe Korean medieval chronicle Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, traditionally dated to ca. 1281) is a collection of narratives that have been retold based on textual sources of varying levels of reliability, from official histories to local legends. The text is already the result of re-reading previously existing histories, decoding them, and then recoding and composing them in such a way that they would be comprehensible to a thirteenth-century readership. In other words, using the terminology of Paul Ricoeur, the chronicle underwent prefiguration and refiguration. The substantial part of the chronicle was compiled toward the end of the Goryeo dynasty and presents approximately one thousand years of Korean history from the Three Kingdoms to Unified Silla periods. Its authorship is attributed to the Buddhist monk Iryeon, who claims that the stories of the events and heroes he has compiled must be embedded in the national memory and therefore passed down to future generations. It is in this way I also understand the word “yusa.” However, the tradition established by the Samguk yusa was not central to the society and culture of the subsequent ruling dynasties; it was a work of peripheral value for a relatively long time also for its unofficial character. The chronicle started to be important—and canonical—only in the modern era.   The Sacred Book of National History In the early twentieth century and especially after the fall of the Joseon dynasty in 1910 when Korea lost its independence, ancient Korean history acquired new significance, and the term “tradition” took on new meaning. Tradition has since that time been closely associated with the perception of the “national.” The new “national” history (minjok sahak) started by Sin Chaeho’s works focused on both a blood-based concept of nation and state (Dangun as forefather suited this purpose) and a shared national space (which included Manchuria, a part of Dangun’s legendary Gojoseon Kingdom). For the new “national history,” the Samguk yusa, together with the Samguk sagi, seemed to be an ideal source for popularizing the idea that Korea had always been a glorious, independent, and ambitious country. In the historical context of Japanese annexation, it was one of the most influential concepts. Since the Samguk yusa was originally created, it has been reconceptualized several times. Some of the legends it contains have more or less retained their original meanings, whereas the meanings of others have been reinterpreted, particularly to strengthen the Korean national identity. During the Japanese era, Korean myths and legends were also reworked to recontextualize them within the greater framework of East Asian history and Korea’s relations with its neighbors.   Ways of Recoding Stories Not all stories from the Samguk yusa maintained their relevance for later societies, not even tales that had acquired some level of local significance. The current coding of stories contained in the Samguk yusa is the result of two phenomena: continuous coding, in which various levels of code transfer have occurred over the centuries; and discontinuous coding, in which the stories’ contents have been changed in central or local lore during the past century. Naturally, these two processes also interact to create an infinite spectrum of variants on the tales. Thus, the Samguk yusa has been recoded, its codes updated. Updating old stories to meet the needs of the present is nothing new as this approach has long been applied in folklore and the novel tradition. New stories can be created by further developing basic motifs from ancient histories; story titles as well as hero or place names can also serve as inspiration. When this happens, the original is substantially transformed. The old legends have been exploited in Korean literature and culture on a large scale since the early twentieth century. A fundamental criterion for a myth, legend, or story to become productive is continuity. Narratives that can be described as continuous are typically transmitted as a whole. When only parts of such works are passed down, decoding may become impossible and discontinuity may occur. Discontinuity is also the result of a single motif being selected and developed. Updating discontinuous narratives from the Samguk yusa results in recoded stories in which we can find sculpture, landscape compositions, a single motif or detail. Recoding can give birth to a new iteration of an old story by taking an old motif and imbuing it with a modern meaning. Literature has “legs” and can “travel.” An eight-hundred-year-old work can “travel far”— that is, several versions of it may exist or it may have been reworked in various genres. Take, for example, the modern and postmodern adaptions of ancient stories in comics, film, and so forth. But not all modern traces of old stories reflect the coding of the original. Some reflect an ancient motif as it was developed in a local version of the story or in an already recoded story that proved to be viable or successful. This process has also occurred beyond the confines of literature. The Samguk yusa has also been recoded in the visual arts. Updating a narrative for modern times does not just mean geographically anchoring it in a specific place and basing it on reliable sources. Some stories in the Samguk yusa have been coded into dummy symbols that represent the entire narrative. Hence, tales can be expressed in the form of pictures, which often adorn the outer walls of monasteries, or in the form of sculptures placed in a landscape. Legends can be “re-established” in places that roughly correspond with the spaces mentioned in the original sources. They can also be condensed into metaphors or symbols or established in a new place. Some old narratives have been updated to promote regional identities, economies, and tourism, though such objectives are often hidden behind slogans about educating young people. In short, Samguk yusa is visible in many forms and no Korean can overlook it.   Still Necessary, Still Viable  From a global perspective, the Samguk yusa is not a unique historical record. It is one of many medieval chronicles produced throughout the world that were later employed during nation- building processes and in the post-war era. Ancient legends and stories have been used to legitimize the existence of every nation based on shared “blood” (ethnicity) and a common territory. Since the medieval era, ancient stories have been the most convenient means for communicating and teaching history to the broader public. Hence, the transcoding of history for political and ideological purposes is not novel to Korea. For example, the mythology was exploited to support the idea of the nation state throughout Enlightenment-era Europe. This kind of history, in which the sacred history of the nation, that is, its essence, is told through ancient stories, conceptually meshes with notions held by the modern Korean state as well. The Samguk yusa’s stories have been continually recoded to make them relevant, comprehensible, and accessible for everybody, irrespective of age and educational level. However, the stories from the Samguk yusa that have proven to be constantly viable forces in Korean culture have not lost their original meanings. Their codes have only been modified to accommodate modern audiences and global trends. In conclusion, the stories contained in the Samguk yusa live a “natural life” in modern Korean society, as documented by their broad understanding, the continuous recoding of some of their narrative elements, and, more generally, in the continuous nature of the Samguk yusa tradition, which is visible in such recodings and reconceptualizations.   This text is a part of a paper that will be published in: Marion Eggert, Florian Pölking, eds., Cultural Transmutations in Korea’s Past and Present. Transcoding, Code-Switching and Other Cultural Practices (Peter Lang, 2020).   by Miriam Löwensteinová Professor, Faculty of Arts Charles University in Prague  2019-12-03 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=585essayYeorha ilgi as a Korean ClassicCan a record of a journey that took place almost 250 years ago, a long prose piece written in a Literary Chinese so complex that even experts in this idiom sometimes find it difficult to understand, a travelogue that centres on China rather than on Korea—can such a text be a classic for Korea’s twenty-first century? I would argue not only that it can, but also that it counts as being among the best candidates Korean literary history has for an enduring classic. The travelogue in question is Bak Jiwon’s Yeorha ilgi ( Jehol Diary), written in the eighteenth century. In the summer of 1780, China’s Qianlong emperor celebrated his seventieth birthday in the frontier town of Jehol (today’s Chengde), close to Mongolia, where the emperors of the ruling Manchu dynasty used to spend their summers. The birthday festivities were meant to demonstrate the power of the dynasty which had recently annexed vast territories to the west of China, including Tibet. Thus, the congratulatory embassy from Korea which had been sent to Beijing, the capital, was ordered to travel onwards to Jehol in order to add to the diversity of nations that paid their respects to the emperor. No subject of the Joseon throne had set foot there before. The embassy was led by an official named Bak Myeongwon, and he had taken along his younger cousin Bak Jiwon (1737–1805), also known as Yeonam, who was in his early thirties at the time and already a well- known man of letters. This journey was an extraordinary opportunity for Yeonam. More than ever, visiting China had by the mid-eighteenth century become a kind of Grand Tour for inquisitive minds in Joseon. While official court politics despised the Manchu rulers of China as barbarians and still dreamed the impossible dream of re-conquering China for the fallen Ming dynasty, awareness now grew among the more open-minded literati that the Qing Empire actually flourished both politically and culturally. Seeing this with one’s own eyes became a major opportunity for Korean intellectuals to acquire a sound, up-to- date understanding of the world at large. And as before, taking part in an embassy was almost the only way to come into direct contact with Chinese literati and catch up with literary and intellectual developments on the mainland, still conceived of by the Korean educated elite as the centre of civilisation. Bak Jiwon made the best possible use of this opportunity. During the journey, he astutely observed Qing customs and it’s lifestyle, highly attentive to details of everyday life, especially technology; he eagerly talked to people from all walks of life on the road; he used whatever chance he had to converse with literate people, be they of Manchu, Chinese, or Mongol ethnicity, through writing in so-called “brush talks”; and he took copious notes of what he saw and heard. Having returned home after roughly half a year of travel, he composed his travelogue, a massive work that runs to about 1,500 pages in the most recent Korean translation. Yeonam was not the first to write such an extensive record of his China experience. Gim Changeop (1658–1721) had forged the path with his Beijing travel diary of 1712. Different from earlier travellers, he wrote his diary not just as a dry record of events but in a fully developed narrative style, pioneering the detailed descriptions of seemingly mundane experiences from which Yeorha ilgi also derives part of its fame. Half a century later, Hong Daeyong (1731–1783) further expanded the stylistic and generic potentials of travel writing by delivering a variety of texts instead of a single record: a narrative diary in the Korean vernacular; a Chinese language text in the monograph style, with thematic chapters on different aspects of his experiences and observations; and a reconstruction of his brush-talks with Chinese gentlemen he befriended in Beijing. The work of Hong, who was a close friend of Bak Jiwon, had been instrumental in changing the outlook of progressive Korean intellectuals on what to expect from China under Manchu rule. It had also changed how it was possible to write about China—Hong was the first Korean to objectify China by choosing an encyclopaedic approach to describing the country in Literary Chinese, and he proved an excellent narrator in Korean. With Yeorha ilgi, Bak Jiwon built upon the achievements of his predecessors and developed the art of travel writing to unprecedented heights. His work is even more creative in terms of genre than that of Hong Daeyong’s. It consists of two parts: an actual diary comprising roughly the first half of the text, divided into seven chapters with individual titles (an innovative feature for Joseon diaries), and interspersed with texts from different genres; and eighteen miscellanies ranging from extended conversation records over brief descriptive essays to notes of a seemingly academic nature. Taken together, Yeorha ilgi features fiercely satirical fictional stories (one in each of the two parts) as well as lyrical essays, geographical treatises and long emotional inner monologues, a discussion of the different perceptions of horses and humans as well as a conversation on a moonlit night on how inhabitants of the Moon may look towards Earth at the very same moment. Arguably, no other text in Korean literary history makes use of so many different literary and linguistic registers. This is also due to the fact that Bak was extremely conversant with Chinese literature of all ages, far beyond the canon, and did not hesitate to make use of it. In the diary, we find echoes of “heterodox” works such as the Zhuangzi as well as of Chinese vernacular literature. This was one of the reasons Yeorha ilgi triggered a “literature rectification movement” by which conservatives at court wished to contain the influence of the work. For influential it was, until today. Bak’s contemporaries literally tore the manuscript from his hands—chapters circulated before he could even finish them. This was not only due to its revolutionary literary style. What fascinated eighteenth and early nineteenth century readers most was the text’s intense questioning of the Joseon literati’s self-positioning in the world, now that traditional Sinocentrism had come to an impasse. Bak Jiwon did not provide clear- cut answers; instead he unfolded through his complex narrative the many aspects in which the multi-ethnic, flourishing Qing could provide inspiration for new Joseon identities. In the late nineteenth century, the diary was valued for its engagement with Western knowledge and advocacy of political reforms, and thus, Bak Jiwon became a figurehead for the twentieth century’s search for indigenous “sprouts of modernity.” From this rather austere image, he was rescued early in the twenty-first century by the public intellectual Ko Misuk who, in a well-received monograph, focussed attention on Bak’s exquisite sense of humour, his deep-seated scepticism and his seeming refusal to commit to a fixed ideological standpoint, thus rendering him a post-modernist avant la lettre. Bak Jiwon and his masterwork cannot be fully captured by any of these interpretations. The multifocality and polyphony of Yeorha ilgi is an important precondition for its lasting appeal to readers. However, my claim that this text has the potential to be a classic for contemporary Korea is not based on an assumption of any protean nature of the text. It cannot be stretched to indiscriminately fit changing reader expectations. Rather, what makes this text a real candidate for being regarded as an enduring classic is its deeply ingrained humanism. Bak knew about his own limitations—his ethnic and class prejudices, for example—but he continually strove to overcome them. His work is testimony not only of knowledge gained through travel, of a dialogue between cultures, but also of epistemological struggle and of an individual’s journey towards wisdom. As such, it remains relevant, as long as readers have command of the hermeneutical competence necessary for unravelling its complexities.   by Marion Eggert Professor, Section of Korean Language and Culture Department of East Asian Studies Ruhr University Bochum 2019-12-03 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=589essayPoetry and Sword: Heroic Imagination and Symbolic Ascendancy in a Contested Sino-Centric WorldHeroes define their culture, society, and time. Their lives and achievements fulfill the needs and ideals of the people who worship them. Tales of heroes, “an eternal man” as Joseph Campbell puts it, never cease to enthrall us.1 Be they real or fictional, once heroes are born into narrative space, they wield power and authority over the living world. It is for this reason that Sherlock Holmes’s imaginary flat at 221B Baker Street continues to attract people from all generations and cultures. Hero tales were very popular in premodern Korea, yet for most modern Koreans, only a handful of names stand out: historical figures such as King Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Sun-sin, along with a few literary heroes like Hong Gil-dong and Chunhyang. The unfortunate truth is that comparatively few of the heroes of premodern Korea are still beloved today. As a result, premodern hero narratives tend to be underrepresented in modern times, both at home and elsewhere. I would like, then, to shed new light on two anonymously written hero narratives from Joseon Korea: the Tale of Choe Go-un and the Tale of Jo Ung.2 Armed with the powerful skills of “poetry” and “sword,” these heroes exemplify Korean sensibilities toward both the unconquered and the unjust, and embody Korea’s struggle to overcome powerful rivals. I hope that getting to know them will nourish conversations about Korean literary heroes, enticing readers to explore the treasures of the premodern Korean literary world, and inviting these heroes to share the modern narrative space. The Tale of Choe Go-un fictionalizes the life of historical figure Choe Chi-won (b. 857), a renowned scholar and official of the Silla Kingdom (57 BCE–935 CE). Choe earned the respect and sympathy of Koreans through his official career in Tang China (618–907), his literary achievements, and the obstacles he faced. There have been many retellings of Choe’s story since its first appearance in History of Three Kingdoms (1145). The Tale of Choe Go-un, which emerged around the late sixteenth century, is a later version, embroidered with folk and religious elements which render Choe superhuman. In the tale, Choe, whose birth is associated with a mysterious golden hog, displays the highest level of intelligence, prescience, and supernatural power on top of his well-known literary skills. The tale attributes his literary talents to scholars from heaven who teach him mastery of the classics and of literary composition around age three. Choe’s extraordinary talent drives him to involve himself in the diplomatic tensions between Silla and China, which ultimately manifest themselves in a poetry competition between the two. The Chinese emperor initiates the battle after accidentally hearing a magnificent recitation ring out from Silla, a thousand li away. The emperor sends scholars to compete with those of Silla, but they soon return defeated, having found that they cannot match a six-year- old Silla boy named Choe. This small incident triggers the emperor’s anger for he believes that Chinese scholars are the best. He sends a messenger with an unopenable box to Silla, vowing that he will invade and massacre the people until Silla is no more if Silla does not produce a poem describing the contents of the box. After considerable upset, Choe solves the problem and saves the Silla people. Soon after, he is summoned to China to prove that he is truly the scholar who solved it. Choe’s talent causes him to constantly alternate between ordeals and successes. He is initially abandoned at birth because his father suspects he is actually the son of the golden hog. In China, he has to endure many tests to prove himself to the dubious emperor. After he earns the emperor’s favor through his success in the civil service exam and on various difficult missions, he is slandered by jealous officials, which eventually drives him to return to Silla. However, with each challenge, Choe’s superiority to all others, including the emperor, shines brighter. When he subdues bandits with only a letter, the supremacy of his writing is redoubled. These compelling images of Choe’s gratifying victories over powerful Chinese rivals are rooted in the complexities of the historical struggle between China and Korea. His successes reveal the critical awareness of Joseon Koreans of their own political weakness and their silent yearning for change. The supernatural elements of the tale make Choe the perfect hero to serve that end. Choe’s surpassing literary talent expresses the prevalent aspiration for literary education and intellectual success among Joseon Koreans. While Choe Go-un wields his literary power for Korea, the Tale of Jo Ung, a popular story of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, presents the fashionable hero Jo Ung who embodies the wishes of the common people by combating an evil power. Set in an imaginary land of the Chinese Liu Song dynasty (420–479), the story describes the adventure and romance of Jo Ung, a young boy who grows into a powerful general, bringing justice and restoration to his family and the state. Like Choe, he undergoes hardships from early childhood. Unlike Choe, Jo remains a human hero, having neither an unusual birth nor supernatural power. He starts off as a weak and vulnerable boy, equipped only with his own abilities and a passion for justice. As he grows older, Jo takes the necessary steps to empower himself. He acquires his three-cheok-long sword and a swift horse and seeks out masters to teach him vital knowledge and fighting skills. Finally, he begins a long journey to save the exiled crown prince and restore him to his throne. Throughout his adventures, Jo receives unexpected help from both the living and the dead. The Tale of Jo Ung provides a rich description of Jo as a caring and loyal leader. He builds a close-knit and sturdy community of family and comrades that perfectly expresses Korean sentiments. Jo fulfills the social values and expectations of a popular readership to whom the stability and legitimacy of the country is of utmost importance. Jo’s deep empathy for his people strengthens his resolve to become a voluntary hero for them. His personal ordeals, including the loss of his father and death threats against him and his mother, gradually build his iron-clad mind and will. Scenes of Jo’s sighs, tears, and regrets, particularly while fleeing, starved and penniless, with his mother as a small boy convey that his salvation will not be his alone, but everybody’s, investing hope in Jo’s every move. Moreover, Jo’s powerful three-cheok sword evokes the sword which Liu Bang (r. 206–195 BCE), the Gaozu of Han, used to slay the giant snake before coming to his power.3 The tale’s use of Liu Bang’s sword, a symbol for legitimate force, is a brilliant thread that weaves into the literary landscape Koreans’ thirst for a moral and stalwart martial power. When Jo Ung joins with a righteous army, his fighting spirit brings the balm of justice to the people’s wounded hearts. Each battle scene, many of which end with an enemy’s head skewered on Jo Ung’s sword, evokes greater morale. The final victory of Jo’s army is bountifully rewarded. Not only Jo but all those participating in his righteous campaign receive a tangible share of the triumph. This glorious ending contrasts with that of the Tale of Choe Go-un, which does not include any worldly reward. Both the Tale of Choe Go-un and the Tale of Jo Ung are so rich with the intriguing charms and literary merits of premodern Korean fiction that no single essay could entirely capture them. These stories evolved to express the broad ranging heroic ideals of the increasing Korean readership of Joseon, particularly those ambitious and adventurous enough to challenge center-periphery politics and seek out a suitable place for an able Korean. Without compromising entertainment or emotional complexity, they constitute an exciting introduction to a specifically Korean attitude toward power and order, dramatizing heroes who personified the compelling desire for excellence and the unquenchable yearning to combat injustice that live on in Koreans today.   1  Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Commemorative Edition; Princeton; Princeton University Press, 2004), 18. 2  For an English translation of the tale, see Cho, Sookja. The Tale of Cho Ung: A Classic of Vengeance, Loyalty, and Romance. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. 3  See Joe Cutter, “‘Well, how’d you becoming king, then?’: Swords in Early Medieval China,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 132.4 (2012) 529–31   by Sookja Cho Associate Professor of Korean Arizona State University2019-09-01 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=587essayImagining Eternity: The Prison Letters of Yi SuniThe textual sources from Joseon (1392–1910), Korea’s last monarchic period, include a category that represents a development that was not only peripheral to mainstream culture but targeted for elimination: the introduction of Catholicism. Despite official persecutions of Catholics and attempts to destroy Catholic literature after the movement’s birth in the 1780s, Korean Catholicism survived in the historical record because the use of texts were central to the movement itself. The Joseon state’s aggressive suppression of Catholicism involved the creation of edicts and trial records linked to Catholics, and the Catholic community, though forced underground, was never eliminated. Thus, the writings of and about Catholics from this period offer a view onto a striking variation in the cultural landscape of Korea leading up to its opening to the modern world in 1876. Yi Suni Ludgarda,1 executed in 1802 near the end of the first large-scale persecution of Catholics, was one of a handful of Joseon Catholics who left writings of a more personal nature. An erudite daughter of a yangban family, Yi may have written many things, but what survives are two letters she wrote from prison: one to her mother and another to two female relatives. These letters provide additional clues about the subjective experience of being Catholic in Joseon. Comparable in some ways with other Joseon women’s writing, Yi’s letters also reveal a self-identity positioned beyond the social orientations of her Joseon milieu.2 In her letters, Ludgarda describes her arrest, asks after the welfare of family members, and expresses her fears. She also apologizes for not being a better daughter, encourages her loved ones to remain strong in the face of tragedy, and reminds them that her sacrifice will bring honor to the family. In these respects, she behaves like a proper yangban daughter: filial to parents,3 patient in hardship and encouraging others to be likewise, concerned about virtue and honor, self-effacing and sacrificial. The sacrifice, however, is her imminent martyrdom for being Catholic, a category that separates Ludgarda from her non-Catholic peers. For a traditional Joseon woman, sacrifice and honor were linked primarily to being a filial daughter and a good wife and mother. Ludgarda addresses her mother with love and respect, and her devotion to her husband, imprisoned in another jail, is clear in several passages. But Ludgarda’s main concern is with her and her family members’ individual soul salvation, which transcends the traditional gender-specific categories of virtue. As Ludgarda reminds her loved ones, remaining faithful to God until death will grant them heaven, where they will be reunited with each other. In Catholicism, each human soul was equal before God, and the fundamental requirements of faithfulness were the same regardless of family, social status, and gender, the primary demarcations of identity in Joseon society. On this foundation, Ludgarda could circumvent some of the duties imposed on Joseon women, such as the bearing of children to carry on the family line. In fact, Ludgarda defied this requirement directly by adopting an old Catholic tradition in which a married couple would renounce sexual relations for the sake of devoting themselves to spiritual work. Ludgarda had wished to remain a virgin consecrated to God, but since Joseon customs dictated that a healthy young woman from a good family should marry, this choice would have attracted harassment. The priest secretly ministering in Joseon at the time offered Ludgarda the solution of marrying Yu Jungcheol Yoan, who was similarly inclined. Thus, three years before the start of the persecutions, the two were married under the unusual vows of perpetual virginity. In both letters from prison, Ludgarda reassures her loved ones that, during the intervening three years, she and Yoan had remained faithful to their vows despite many instances of temptation. Such a marriage freed Ludgarda from birthing and raising children, which would have sealed her traditional female role. Furthermore, the couple’s united goal of remaining chaste for God indicated an equality of purpose absent in a traditional Joseon marriage, where faithfulness was required only of the wife. Indeed, Ludgarda confirms this equality when she writes, “Although others say that Yoan is my husband, I say that he is my faithful friend.” According to the Confucian mores of Joseon society, friendship was the only non-hierarchical relationship. Ludgarda alludes again to this spiritual equality between men and women when she reminds her brother’s wife, who has just lost her husband, of their future reunion in heaven: “In this life you are husband and wife; in eternity you will be partners.” In heaven, the final home of the Joseon Catholic, partnership would replace the hierarchical gender relationship. In earthly terms, Ludgarda was still limited by her female identity. After all, it had compelled her to settle for a celibate marriage rather than remain single, and her vows had to be legitimized by a male priest. Nonetheless, being Catholic enabled a sense of self that was fundamentally different from that of her non-Catholic peers, as further indicated in Ludgarda’s lament over her human moral frailty. Lament was a mode of expression common enough in Joseon women’s writings—letters, memoirs, and gasa (long narrative or instructive poems)—for scholars to classify a subcategory of “women’s lament” literature that featured complaints about the hardship of being a woman living under the oppressive customs of late Joseon society, with the blame usually placed on fate: “Oh, if only I had been born a man!” Ludgarda also laments, but never about being a woman. Her most immediate lament is about the violence of the persecution and the suffering of her loved ones. However, another dominant theme in both letters is her concern about soul salvation, linked to a recurrent lament about her own weakness. Ludgarda writes that when the persecutions started, “I resolved in my heart to die for the Lord at the right opportunity.” Martyrdom would be the most noble expression of her devotion and would allow her direct entry into heaven. Hence, despite her sorrow over the human tragedy of persecution, she sees arrest and imprisonment as an opportunity: “But it happened as I had wished. . . . My one desire is fulfilled.” Yet Ludgarda also voices anxiety about possibly giving in to temptation. This would be the temptation to recant her faith to avoid death, or to entertain sinful thoughts at the moment of death, thus missing the chance to “die in grace.” Even when rejoicing that she will soon be reunited with loved ones in heaven, she follows with, “But an exceedingly sinful person such as I can only hope, for such a thing is not easy.”  Elsewhere she mentions her prayers for the family’s reunion in heaven, but again laments, “What if I live and fail to fulfill this wish? I fear this, so even if I die, do not be sorrowful.” Unlike the lament voiced by Ludgarda’s non-Catholic peers, where fate is to blame for making one a woman, Ludgarda suggests that she is to blame for the difficulty of attaining heaven. Although Ludgarda’s Catholic identity allows her to transcend some of the burdens of womanhood, she accepts a new burden of the possibility that her choices will result in eternal suffering. Paradoxically, Ludgarda’s self-flagellation links to a certain agency. Suffering in this life might be out of her control, but suffering in eternity is a matter of making the right choice. And just as apologizing for lacking in filial piety might itself be a sign of filial piety, humbly lamenting one’s sinfulness was a mark of a faithful Catholic. Thus, in voicing her fears, Ludgarda also exercises an agency that she holds over her eternal fate. In a broader sense, Ludgarda sees herself, not merely fate, as responsible for some part of the tragedy of being, and faces this responsibility in order to save herself from evil. Ludgarda’s Catholicism facilitated a transcending of certain gender-based boundaries and an individuality that made her voice from prison unique among the voices of Joseon women. A small subset of writings by Joseon women similarly shifts away from generic female discourse to highlight more individual experiences over the duties and the burdens of womanhood. But Ludgarda’s awareness of her impending execution, joined to her belief in the soul’s immortality and the eternal consequences of her actions, extended her self-consciousness to another psychological level. The result is an unusually autobiographical and emotionally vivid utterance marking the discursive landscape of Joseon.   1  Ludgarda is a Portuguese variant of Lutgarde, the name of a thirteenth-century Flemish saint. At baptism, each Joseon Catholic received the name of a Catholic saint 2  Themes from this essay are also discussed in the author’s following articles: “Transcendence and Anxiety in the Prison Letters of Catholic Martyr Yi Suni Ludgarda (1779–1802)” (Religion and Literature 47.3 [2015]: 25–55); “Between Heroism and Despair: Opportunities and Barriers for Women in the Early Korean Catholic Church” (Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 23.4 [2017]: 421–441). For an excellent Korean-language introduction to Ludgarda’s letters, see Jung Byung-sul’s Jugeum eul neomeoseo: sungyoja Yi Suni eui okjung pyeonji [Beyond death: the prison letters of martyr Yi Suni] (Seoul: Minumsa, 2014). 3  Apologizing for not being a better daughter was a typical expression of filial piety.   by Deberniere Torrey Assistant Professor World Languages and Cultures The University of Utah2019-09-01 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=590essayQuestioning the Canon: From Historical Significance to PopularityThe canonization of literary classics is a complex process that is not necessarily based solely on aesthetic excellence; it can also be led by ideological interests. Depending on which set of criteria we use to define literary classics, we find that there are various canons of “classics” and that these sets are themselves dynamic. I personally appreciate the idea of a literary canon based on pure aesthetic excellence, and I do not want to deny the intrinsic literary quality of certain texts. In a time like ours, where the commercialization of literature as munhwa kontencheu (“culture contents”) seems to be in full swing, the discussion about how to define literary quality seems to be more important than ever. In this essay, I want to explore another approach to question the established canon: taking the popularity of a story in Korea as criterion for defining Korean literary classics. By that criterion, I will argue that The Journey to the West (Seoyugi) is more a Korean classic than New Tales of the Golden Turtle (Geumo Sinhwa).   GEUMO SINHWA’S LABEL AS “EARLIEST CLASSICAL FICTION IN KOREA” In A History of Korean Literature, Peter Lee calls Geumo Sinhwa the “earliest classical fiction in Korea,”1 which seems to have become the main characteristic for which Geumo Sinhwa is known. Whether the story is introduced by Cho Tongil to an academic audience in his seminal work on Korean literature2 or taught to Korean students for the first time in children books or textbooks, Geumo Sinhwa is usually celebrated as the “earliest classical fiction in Korea,” even before the actual content is mentioned. Heo Byeongdu, representative of the teacher association that put together “Creating a Warmer World through the Book” (Chaek euro ttatteutan sesang mandeuneun gyoso; Chaekttase), argues that the emphasis on Geumo Sinhwa as being the “earliest classical fiction in Korea” makes it very difficult to recognize its real appeal.3 Yi Jiha, one of the translators of Geumo Sinhwa, also suggests that while the majority of Koreans will call Geumo Sinhwa the “first” (choecho) of its kind, only a minority will have actually read it.4   “IF IT DOESN’T SPREAD, IT’S DEAD” Geumo Sinhwa is a collection of five novellas written by Kim Si-seup (1435–1493) in the 1460s. Two of the novellas are romantic ghost stories, while the others are stories in which a scholar travels to meet a supernatural character. Since it is regarded as the “earliest classical fiction in Korea” written in Literary Chinese, the collection is firmly established as one of the core classics of Korean literature. Julie Sanders, an expert in adaptation studies, argues that “adaptations and appropriations prove complicit in activating and reactivating the canonical status of certain texts and writers.”5 She even calls adaptation a “veritable marker of canonical status.”6 The screenwriter Howard A. Rodman explains in the foreword to Alexis Krasilovsky’s Great Adaptations (2018) that adaptations can bring books “to life.” Also, Sarah Cardwell, author of Adaptation Revisited: Television and the Classic Novel, argues that adaptations play an important role in the formation of classics. In his blog post “If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead,” Henry Jenkins argues that it is re-use, remixing, and adaptation that keep cultural contents alive.7 Similarly, Walter Bernhart, an expert in intermediality studies, calls this ability to spread the “fertility” of a text.8 Surprisingly, despite its canonical status, Geumo Sinhwa does not seem to be very “fertile,” and there would seem to be few to no adaptations of Geumo Sinhwa in Korean popular culture today. This is all the more astonishing given the fact that the Korean classics are grist for recent Korean TV dramas, webtoons, films, manhwa, or other forms of popular culture.   (ALLEGED) KOREAN LITERARY CLASSICS WITH(OUT) ADAPTATIONS To name just a few of the most popular contemporary adaptations of Korean classics, one of the most outstanding examples would be The Tale of Chunhyang. Besides dozens of film adaptations by some of the most prominent Korean directors—including Shin Sang-ok’s Seong Chunhyang (1961) and Im Kwon-taek’s Chunhyangdyeon (2000)—the Korean TV drama Sassy Girl Chunhyang (Kwaegeol Chunhyang, Jeon Gisang 2005) was also extremely successful, with viewership ratings of more than 30 percent (Joongang Ilbo 2005). The same is true for The Tale of Hong Gildong. Hong Gildong was adapted as a serial cartoon in a newspaper (Punguna Hong Gildong 1965), and as a North Korean martial arts film (1986), as well as several other films and TV dramas. On the other hand, Geumo Sinhwa is not the only Korean classic to have fallen into near obscurity. Kuunmong (The Dream of the Nine Clouds), written by Kim Manjung (1637–1692) in 1689, shares a fate similar to that of Geumo Sinhwa. While generally praised as the first literary work written in Korean that would fit into the Western concept of a novel,9 popular adaptations of Kuunmong are rare. David Damrosch argues in his influential monograph What is World Literature? that it is the variability of a literary work that enables its circulation. Only if a work is variable enough to adapt to other places and times can the work circulate. The religious context of Kuunmong and the fact that the male protagonist enjoys life with a harem of eight women might be one of the main stumbling blocks when adapting the work. Since the harem plays a central role in the story, it limits the work’s variability. One of the very few popular adaptations of Kuunmong that solved this problem is the Korean TV drama My Love from the Star (Byeol eso on geudae, Jang Taeyu 2013–14).10While the male protagonist in Kuunmong has a relationship with eight different women at the same time, in the TV drama the male protagonist has a relationship with several reincarnations of the same woman. Kuunmong and Geumo Sinhwa are Korean classics that are both celebrated for being “the first” of their kind, which means the canonization of both works was not based on popularity, but mainly on alleged historical significance. While Geumo Sinhwa is regarded as the “earliest classical fiction in Korea” written in Literary Chinese, Kuunmong is praised as the first Korean novel written in Korean, but neither the content nor the story plot of either of them would seem to be variable enough to be adapted to different times and places.   THE UBIQUITY OF SEOYUGI IN KOREAN POPULAR CULTURE While Geumo Sinhwa is, despite its near absence in popular culture, generally considered to be one of the core classics of Korean literature, Seoyugi (The Journey to the West) is, especially in the academic world, never considered to be a Korean classic although it is ubiquitous in popular culture in Korea. The story universe of Seoyugi is constantly  growing, through Korean webtoons, films, TV series, manhwa, and computer games, as well as through exhibitions or festivals.11 Although most people know Seoyugi through these variations, academics still tend to assume that the “real” Seoyugi is merely the rarely read Shidetang edition of the 100-chapter novel allegedly written by Wu Cheng’en in China at the end of the sixteenth century. Of course, Seoyugi cannot be considered just a Korean classic, since many cultures keep contributing to its multicultural story universe. In any case, it is definitely part of Korean popular culture, and if we take the criterion for being considered a classic to be popularity, Seoyugi can be considered to be more a Korean literary classic than Geumo Sinhwa.   1 Lee, Peter H. 2003. A History of Korean Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 262.2 Cho Tongil. 2016. Hanguk Munhak Tongsa [A comprehensive history of Korean literature]. Paju: Jisik saneopsa, Vol. 2, 487.3 http://legacy.www.hani.co.kr/section-005006002/2004/06/00500600220040620...4 Kim Si-seup. 2018. Geumo Sinhwa, 25th print. Trans. Yi Jiha. Seoul: Minumsa5 Sanders, Julie. 2006. Adaptation and Appropriation. London: Routledge, 22 (emphasis mine).6 Sanders, Julie. 2006. Adaptation and Appropriation. London: Routledge, 6.7 http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2009/02/if_it_doesnt_spread_its_dead_p.html8 Bernhart, Walter. 2015. “From Novel to Song via Myth: Wuthering Heights as a Case of Popular Intermedial Adaptation.” Essays on Literature and Music (1985-2013) by Walter Bernhart, ed. Werner Wolf. Leiden, Brill, 394.9 Yu, Myoungin. 2011. “Kuunmong und die koreanische Literaturwissenschaft: Wissenschaftsgeschichte als Provokation [Kuunmong and Korean Literary Studies: Intellectual History as Provocation].” Bochum, PhD thesis, 27.10 Wall, Barbara. 2016. “Self-mockery of the Korean Wave (hallyu) in the Korean drama My Love from the Star and the role of the seventeenth-century novelThe Dream of the Nine Clouds.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Vol. 8, 73–87.11 Wall, Barbara. 2019. “Dynamic Texts as Hotbed for Transmedia Storytelling: A Case Study on the Story Universe of The Journey to the West.” International Journal of Communication, Vol. 13, 2116–2142. by Barbara Wall Assistant Professor University of Copenhagen2019-06-28 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=591essaySijo: A Gateway to Joseon Korea Nowadays, South Korea is often associated with its globally oriented trends, along with the originality of its culture, often represented though authentic images and phenomena. To understand contemporary Korea, it is important to grasp specifics formed long before. But what was Korea of past centuries like? How did Korean people view the world and what were their concerns? Short sijo poems—a representative vernacular genre of the Joseon period (1392–1897)—gives a reader more than just a delightful encounter with beautiful verse; it also provides one of the best opportunities to have a glimpse of life in Korea in its past. Several thousands of preserved texts cover a wide range of topics, producing voices from the time. They reveal a mindset tracing its roots to traditional concepts but which are also found in contemporary discourse. Let us open this gateway to Joseon and see what sijo shares with us. “Literature of rivers and lakes”—this common denomination for sijo shows how deeply it is embedded in nature. Many contemplative texts depict the world in an ideal state with humans as part of it. The neo-Confucian philosopher Yi Hwang (1501–1570) creates a harmonic picture by pairing oppositions (yin and yang):   At the blowing wind of spring, the mountains are full of flowers And at the autumn night, the terrace is filled with the moonlight. The beauty of the four seasons— For a human they are all of the same delight. Then what to say of jumping fish and flying hawks, Of cloud shadows and sky lights?   A multi-layered symbolism in sijo combines with the laconic character of the text, which gives an impression of seeming simplicity. At the same time, nature-related images often serve as metaphors and express a variety of ideas. Poetic parables form one of the sijo types. In one of the earliest examples of sijo, the mother of the famous official Jeong Mong-ju (1337–1392) metaphorically warns about the danger of keeping company with indecent people:   Hey, white heron, don’t you go To the place where crows are fighting! Looking at your snow-white feathers They may envy your pure color. What if they besmirch your body, Which you washed in blue river waters?   As the genre originated in the break between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it witnessed crucial events such as a change in dynasties and struggles for power, making principle values and moral choices important topics for poetic expression. Seong Sam-mun (1418–1456), one of the scholars involved in the creation of the hangeul alphabet, uses the image of a pine—a common symbol of loyalty—to speak of his support to the young King Danjong, dethroned by his uncle Sejo, and of his readiness to die for his decision.   What happens to myself after I die? I’d turn into a pine that grows at Mount Penglai. Then lofting at the top of the mountain of the immortals Alone I would be keeping those colors of green, When the snow falls upon the ground And all around is covered with white.   Among sijo authors we find officials who experienced exile or chose life at nature’s bosom as a form of political protest, so the periods of service and being a recluse interchanged in their lives. Yun Sun-do, a representative sijo poet, is one of them. In exile, he depicts an ideal scene in nature:   The stream is bringing fallen petals here, It means the “Peach-Blossom Spring” is somewhere close   The lines allude to the “Peach Blossom Spring,” a utopian poem by Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (365–427), famous for living as a hermit. It speaks of a fisherman who discovers an ideal society in a forest with blossoming peaches, but after he returned to his home he could not find the way there again. In other texts Yun metaphorically expresses that he is ready to return to civil service:   They say, the continuous rain is over, They say, the gloomy clouds are already gone. The deep dark pit which used to be ahead Is now not as dark—I heard so from someone. If those words are true and it is pure and light, Then I could wash the strings of my hat in those waters.   The last phrase is an allusion to the text by Chinese poet Qu Yuan (340–278 BC), which contains a metaphor of the royal situation: “When the waters are clean, one can wash his [civilian’s] hat’s strings; if they are dirty, one can wash one’s feet in it.” The images here are of “rain,” a reason to postpone active service; or “clouds”—a metaphor for a ruler’s unworthy surroundings. With the widening authorship of sijo, ordinary concerns and private life became popular subjects. Female-voiced sijo, often composed by kisaeng courtesans, deal with love and relationships. A sijo by the famous Hwang Jini (1506–1544) contains a humorous tint. She uses her literary name Myeongwol (Bright Moon) to pick on a man named Byok Kye Su (Azure Stream), who boasted of his strong resistance to female charms. The legend says this exquisite word play made Byok give up his position:   Hey, listen to my words, Azure Stream, Why should you boast of your speedy run? See, once you reach the waters of the sea, It is not easy to return from where you’ve gone. Bright moon is rising over the mountains again Then why not rest and why not have some fun?   As the audience of the genre grew, people of humble origins also became sijo poets (the names of many are unknown). The textual framework widened. Merchants, hunters, and artisans enter into the texts along with their speech-styles and actions, bringing readers to street scenes and market places. Anonymous sketches of everyday life may be endowed with a philosophical sub-context:   Hey, cowherd, you are sitting on the calf, your back ahead, And riding over that green and rampant grass, You tell me, do you know or don’t you About what is good and what is bad? The boy keeps blowing his tiny pipe And, smiling, does not give me a reply.   In the details of the boy’s image we recognize a Taoist immortal far from earthly matters. His non-reply is another element supporting this interpretation as the Tao is not to be expressed in words. A similar motif is used in a text by a contemporary South Korean poet Chong Hyon-jong:   This boy kept silent for the whole day. When we went to see the waves of bloom At the Peach Blossom Spring, This boy, Whatever asked By his uncle from Seoul, Did not say a word. That’s true. At the end of the twentieth century, In the light of your silence, Words are a nervous breakdown, They are a sickness of civilization.   The poem calls for return to nature and purity, applying Taoist motifs of silence and an allusion to the famous social utopia, i.e. “Peach Blossom Spring.” Even this small number of textual illustrations introduces us to political circumstances, thought, human relations, and everyday life of Joseon. In sijo, social matters, love and faithfulness, personal expectations, and eternal values are conveyed with the help of a purely Korean tone embellished with elements borrowed from Chinese literature, but applied individually and in a creative way to form an authentic tradition. Translations of sijo texts into foreign languages are a good opportunity to meet this tradition and value it.   by Anastasia Guryeva Associate Professor Saint Petersburg University   2019-06-25 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=592essayThe Nine Cloud Dream – In Praise of Love that Overcomes HateThe civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is, along with John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, one of the defining speeches of the twentieth century. King’s speech is praised for its anti-discriminatory content and support of non-violence, but this speech is also one of the most famous because King, an African American who tasted the bitterness of years of discrimination, overcame hatred and chose to speak instead about love and dreams. When I read Kim Man-jung’s The Nine Cloud Dream, I could not help but think of King’s speech. Kim (1637-1692) was a seventeenth-century Korean intellectual. According to the Nishiura Chronology, The Nine Cloud Dream was completed in 1687. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the people of the Korean peninsula suffered unbelievable tragedies. Yet Kim produced a work that speaks to the importance of love and dreams, not just in Korea, but across all of East Asia. The Nine Cloud Dream is set in China during the Tang Dynasty. The story begins when the young Seong-jin, who had been training in the heavens, meets eight beautiful fairies. Seong-jin’s heart is overcome with passion for the eight fairy maidens, and he can no longer focus on his Buddhist rites. His teacher, the Master of the Six Temptations, learns of Seong-jin’s state, and uses his powers to have him reborn in the human world as Yang So-yu and experience the world of desire. The eight fairies are also reborn in the human world, and, after many twists and turns, each encounters Seong-jin again in human form. While So-yu achieves glory in the human world, he also realizes its limits and returns to heaven to begin the long journey to becoming a Bodhisattva. But this is nothing more than the frame of the story. The tale’s true focus is how, despite both the successes (passing the imperial examinations and marrying a princess) and difficulties Seong-jin encounters as a human, he still meets and marries the eight fairies. Together, the nine build their own unshakable world of love. Altogether, eighty or ninety percent of the novel is dedicated to So-yu’s adventures in the human world and the construction of a world of love for his eight lovers. What truly makes this novel unique is how it so passionately extols the importance of love in such a wide variety of human ventures. The episode wherein So-yu meets Ka Chun-un, the reincarnation one of the eight nymphs, is a perfect example. One day, deep in the mountains, So-yu meets an unimaginable beauty. He falls head over heels in love with her, and they begin to meet frequently. So-yu is thus surprised to happen upon her grave and discover that the unlucky maiden is already deceased. His friend, Thirteen, consults with the supernaturally-gifted Master Du out of concern. Master Du warns So-yu that he is in love with a spirit and that continuing his meetings with her will endanger his life. So-yu, however, refuses to listen to Master Du and tries to see Chun-un again, but she fails to show. The flustered So-yu then hears a woman’s voice. The voice informs him that a magical charm was hidden in his topknot, and because of that, Chun-un could not approach him. Surprised, So-yu grabs the charm, saying “I cannot hold back my anger, I will destroy this charm,” and breaks it into pieces. So-yu discovers that it was his worried friend and the master who sneaked the charm into So-yu’s hair. He then sings praise to the depth and strength of his love: “Whether it is this world or the next in which we meet, our love shall know no divisions.” It is frequently suggested that this episode served as the basis for the charm-breaking scene from the ghost story “The Record of the Peony Lantern” in the collection of Chinese supernatural tales, Jiandeng Xinhua. “The Record of the Peony Lantern” is the story of Qiao Sheng of Mingzhou (modern day Zhejiang Province). He falls in love with the ghost Shufang. Though he manages to free himself thanks to the scarlet charm he receives from High Priest Wei, Qiao ultimately destroys the charm, becomes possessed by Shufang, and is killed. While the stories both revolve around magic charms, there is an important difference between the two. In the China of “The Record of the Peony Lantern” (and also in Japan, where ghost stories were heavily influenced by those of China), charms and magic belong to the realm of the gods and must be treated with great care. However, in the words of Kim (and So-yu), charms and magic are broken into pieces for the sake of a greater good. Kim places human love in higher esteem than magic and spells. This portrayal of magic feels incredibly fresh even in our modern day where religion has lost most of its sway; one need not even mention how radical it must have been in the seventeenth century.   The value Kim placed on love and passion is most obvious when we consider the circumstances of the eight female characters. If we were to look at the ranks of all the female leads, we would find among them a princess, court dancers, and even an assassin. Comparing The Nine Cloud Dream with romances from other countries further elucidates this key feature of the work. For example, if we were to contrast it with the model love stories of Japanese literature, The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, completed at the end of the tenth century, and The Life of an Amorous Man by Ihara Saikaku, written at the end of the seventeenth century, we’d see that while the male leads certainly do have relationships with many women, they tend to be of one type. In The Tale of Genji, Hikaru Genji has relationships with ten or so major characters and other minor ones as well. Yonosuke of The Life of an Amorous Man, we are told, has slept with 3,742 women. Certainly, these are large numbers, but there is no variety in the women’s circumstances. In the case of Genji, most of his encounters are with court ladies, while Yonosuke courts only prostitutes and commoners. In contrast, So-yu takes women of every class as wives and concubines. While there may only be eight of them, one could consider these eight female characters as an attempt to represent a world bound together by love for all women. But why would Kim try to depict such a world? He lived during an era of previously unseen violence and wrote this work in the postwar period. He survived the devastation of his country’s land by the Japanese invasion of Korea, and also the further loss of dignity brought about by the Qing invasion. During this era, the people of the Korean peninsula suffered greatly, and naturally, they had great resentment towards both the Japanese and the Qing. But Kim did not write a story of resentment. He responded to the situation with love. His stance is made clear through So-yu. When So-yu becomes a general and must respond to enemy aggressions, he does not rely on military force, but rather succeeds in ending conflicts through diplomatic means. Even when he is attacked by the assassin Yo-yeon, his words overflowing with love overcome her, and he transforms this enemy into an ally. Just like Martin Luther King Jr.’s words which continue to resonate in our global world, Kim’s spirit of love and dreams is absolutely necessary in modern East Asia. That spirit which praises love and dreams so highly deserves respect in Japan and China as well. If we do not give it its proper due, postwar Asia will one day revert to prewar Asia, and history will be nothing more than a repetition of past follies.   Tomoyuki Someya Professor, Ibaraki Christian University2019-03-28 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=593essayThe Revitalization of Sijo Invitation to Sijo I taught Korean literature, including the sijo, for a number of years. I read and translated sijo, and listened to sung performances of it by professional singers as well as enthusiastic amateurs. One of the high points for me in my Writing Asian Poetry class was the moment when the teaching assistant, trained as a sijo and pansori singer, ended her performance of the sijo, then said to the class, “Ok, now it is your turn.” They gasped in apprehensive imagining, but then were led through the first line to finish with a real sense of accomplishment beyond reading English translations. A number of factors led me finally to try writing sijo in English, but the principal motivator was the number of haiku written in English that I had seen and read over the years. It occurred to me that the students who learned how to write haiku in fourth grade in schools in the US probably then developed a sense of familiarity about other examples of Japanese literature that Korean literature in translation was lacking. Conversations with students who had gone to school in the States, remembering their “haiku days,” brought me to wonder if something similar might happen with the sijo.   Early Example The sijo’s origins are not clear in a formal sense, since the Korean alphabet was invented in the fifteenth century, while many sijo are said to predate it. For example, a very well-known sijo by Jeong Mongju (1337-1392) states his strongly-felt devotion to the Goryeo dynasty, against the Yi faction about to topple it.   Though this body die and die and die again, White bones become but dust, a soul exist, then not, Still this single-hearted devotion to my lord: how could it waver, ever?1   The story about Jeong Mongju’s sijo, that he recited his sijo poem at a banquet, in response to a verse challenge from one of the sons of the founder of the new dynasty, is dated to 1392, when Goryeo fell and Jeong was killed by the Yi followers. It wasn’t until half a century later that the fourth Yi king, Sejong, promulgated the Korean alphabet, hangeul, so the ascription remains uncertain for a sijo text attributed to a statesman killed before the alphabet was invented and any history—or poetic text—was written down. And while the story about the sijo and its origins has Jeong killed at a banquet hosted by one of the Yi family, the official dynastic history compiled under the new dynasty’s rule gives a thoroughly different story of Jeong’s life and death with no mention at all of either the banquet or the poem. What seems most striking is the poem's strength as poetic statement, whatever historical uncertainties there may be regarding its provenance.   Structure The sijo’s form compresses the rhetorical features of the Classical Chinese quatrain—presentation, development, then a twist, and a conclusion or resolution—into three lines, toward something like the brevity of the Japanese haiku. Each line of the sijo is in two parts, each part in turn being a two-part phrase or clause. Syllable count is a significant feature of the sijo: 3 4 3 (or 4) 4 syllables for the four parts in lines one and two, and then 3 5 4 3 in the final line. Syllable count is not as strict as in the Japanese haiku, which tends pretty much toward seventeen syllables, nor the unvarying five- or seven-syllable lines of Chinese classical poetry. Yet while there is some range in syllable counts, there is also a strong tendency toward regularity at the ends of lines one and two, with four syllables, and in the 3-syllable first group of line three, the expanded five (or more) syllables in the second group of that line, and then 4 and 3 to end it. One might say there is greater regularity in syllable count where the line and sense of the poem need to stabilize themselves in order to make a shift, either from line to line, or through the rhetorical twist. The twist at the start of line three is a key rhetorical feature of the sijo, but just what is a sijo twist? Two examples by the famous kisaeng woman poet Hwang Jini (sixteenth century) might help. The first is said to be her response to some official scholar-type who boasted of his indifference to her famous wit and charm.   Jade Green Stream, don’t boast so proud of your easy passing through these blue hills. Once you have reached the broad sea, to return again will be hard. While the Bright Moon fills these empty hills, why not pause? Then go on, if you will.2   The playful brilliance of this sijo lies in the identity of the sounds for the phrase “Jade Green Stream”—Byeok gye su—and the official office title of the boastful fellow. Hwang Jini’s poetic name, her sobriquet, Bright Moon, provides the twist for the poem, reversing its seemingly steady movement toward the sea.   Another example of Hwang Jini’s sijo uses the tumbling burst of a run-on line, extremely rare in sijo practice, to move from the second to the final line in an enactment of the impetuousness of her action. The twist in this sijo is the speaker’s discovery, at the beginning of line three, of just what she has done: she sent him away!   Alas! What have I done? Knew I not just what yearning was? Had I bid him Stay, How could he have gone, but stubborn I sent him away, and such longing I now learn.3   Sijo in the 21st Century The revitalization of the sijo form and practice seems to be everywhere these days. There are a number and variety of sijo journals and groups in Korea, some following quite strict adherence to the classical form, others exploring variations in form and subject, page layout, and presentation. Tap Dancing on the Roof is a delightful English-language children’s book of sijo poems and illustrations. Wayne de Fremery, at Sogang University, has started up a new English-language sijo journal, Sijo: An International Journal of Poetry and Song, now moving into its second annual edition. The Busan International Literary Festival in 2018 hosted a number of activities focusing on the sijo, and I was delighted to accept their invitation to offer reflections on the form and its practice, including my own ukulele-accompanied version of Hwang Jini’s sijo poem about the stream. And let us hope that the K-Pop scene will keep bringing it on as well!   1. David R. McCann, Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions, Columbia University Press, 2000, page 32. 2. Early Korean Literature, p. 150. 3. For a slightly different version, see Early Korean Literature, p. 55.   David McCann Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University   2019-03-27 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=595essayA Twenty-First Century Look at the Classics With this winter issue, we begin a new series on classical Korean literature titled Inkstone. LTI Korea has supported mostly modern Korean literature in the past, but it has also maintained an interest in introducing and translating the classics. There are many traditions feeding into contemporary Korean literature, among which classical Korean literature carries a significant weight, making it necessary to understand the classics if we are to understand contemporary literature. Korean literature is the summation of all the literature created since Koreans settled on the peninsula. There is no way of knowing what oral traditions existed in the early days of settlement. The first written records were written in hanja, or classical Chinese. Since hanja entered the peninsula with the rule of China’s Han dynasty, this could be said to have happened about 2,100 years ago. However, no records survive of any literature from that era, and while many histories and literature were recorded and created soon after, none survived intact. It could be said that the proper beginning of Korean records is the History of the Three Kingdoms and Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Not only do these volumes have partial records of literature from times past, the works themselves qualify as literary texts. Korean literature further increased in scope with the invention of the hangeul alphabet in the fifteenth century. Hangeul, unlike Chinese which takes years to master, could be learned in a day. Literary readership greatly expanded to the lower classes and to women. This enabled the growth of fiction and encouraged the writing of lyrics. Then in the eighteenth century, commercial book-lenders began popping up in Seoul, and this gave rise to a fiction publication industry. Joseon, once a Kingdom of Narratives, became a Kingdom of Novels. This general history of Korean classical literature can be learned from other books on the topic. KLN’s Inkstone series, however, aims to do something slightly different. While most books on the history of classical Korean literature are based on research from before the 1980s, this series will include newer research that has benefited from the significant increase in the number of researchers and the rapid development of digital databases. Not only have many new records been discovered, they’ve become easily searchable on the internet, bringing new opportunities for quality research. We have come to a point where our literary history needs to be reexamined. Another contrast is in research perspective. The dominant perspective of twentieth-century Korean literary research has been skepticism and a reassessment of nationalist attitudes. Korea was never a unified nation since the time of our nation’s founder Dangun (as claimed by the nationalists), nor has there been a tradition of such thought throughout history. The Joseon Dynasty emphasized Confucianism, an ancient Gojoseon tradition that came over from China. Nationalism was a concept created from the shock of Western influence in the modern era, not something that existed before then. This skepticism towards nationalism has begotten new and diverse perspectives such as feminism and queer theory, which our series will reflect. What do people think of when they think of classical Korean literature? Sijo poems, gasa lyrics, The Tale of Chunhyang, Nine Cloud Dream, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong, The Jehol Diary, and perhaps some hanshi poems. What was treated as the classic canon from the Goreyo and Joseon dynasties and onwards was Chinese literature. Works of Korean literature, in other words, weren’t subjects of consideration. It was only in modern times, with the advent of nationalist thought, that Korean literature entered the pantheon of the classics. Just as Korean-Chinese hanja characters gave way to the hangeul alphabet in modernity, Korean literature, especially literature written in hangeul, took center stage in literary discourse. Korean classical literature is still in its formative stages. Since the 1980s, Maiden Bari and Spring Flower Picking have emerged as major works of interest in literary research. Maiden Bari is a song from the oral tradition, a form neglected by scholars until recently, and Spring Flower Picking, a hangeul gasa, was written in 1930 and wasn’t considered a classic until recently. Its handling of women’s hardships has brought it to the attention of feminist critics. Furthermore, writers who were the offspring of concubines or from the middle class, otherwise neglected in the genre of hanmun and hanshi writing, are receiving more consideration than ever before. This series takes into account these new advances in research and attempts to further diversify the discourse by including the works of researchers, especially young researchers, who reside outside of South Korea. Scholars of Korean literature outside the peninsula are more removed from the nationalist perspective and tend to have a more objective perspective in their research. Not only are they well-versed in European and American theoretical discourse, they are also well-aware of recent discoveries and research being done in South Korea. They are still not at a level where one researcher could publish a book on the entirety of Korean literature, but we trust they will be capable of producing higher-quality research and literary histories than could previously be written within South Korea. We are confident this series will be an important highlight of not only Korean classical literature but of all Korean literature, suitable for this new twenty-first century.             by Jung Byung-SulProfessor of Korean LiteratureSeoul National University   2018-12-13 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=594essayThe Colorful World of Korean Folktales Folktales provide a unique window into a culture, quite different from the view you might get from other forms of literature such as novels or poetry. They are not authored by a single individual but are instead told and retold by many, handed down from generation to generation, and so they offer insight into the things that a culture and its people find worthy of telling stories about. Korean folktales are no different. The world of the Korean folktale is populated by woodcutters and fairies, clever boys and girls, simpletons who somehow manage to win in the end, and animals like tigers, rabbits, and nine-tailed foxes. These characters have a lot to say if you’re ready to listen. One popular character from Korean folktales, a figure who is still well known today, is a man called “Bongi” Kim Seondal. Bongi is a nickname that means “The Phoenix,” and he earned it after pulling a trick on an unscrupulous chicken seller. Kim Seondal was at the market, where he saw chickens for sale. Feigning ignorance, he loudly admired them, saying what fine phoenixes they were. The chicken seller thus took him for a country rube and sold him one of these “phoenixes” for ten times the normal price. Kim Seondal immediately began to parade his prize around the market, telling everyone about his new phoenix. When he was questioned by the local magistrate, the chicken seller’s deed came to light—but of course when the magistrate asked Kim Seondal how much he had paid, he inflated the figure by ten times. Thus, when the chicken seller was ordered to pay back the money, Kim Seondal ended up making a tidy profit. Though this is the episode that gave Kim Seondal his nickname, it is not his most famous exploit. That would be the selling of the Taedong River in Kim Seondal’s hometown, Pyongyang. There are as many versions of a tale as there are tellers; the one that follows is mine, though it is based on the many versions I have read and heard.   News that a rich man had arrived in Pyongyang, looking to buy up whatever he could, spread like wildfire through the markets and city streets. Before long, this news reach “Bongi” Kim Seondal, and he quickly hatched a plan. He went to the part of town where the water sellers lived and gathered them around him. “My friends,” he began, “I have a favor to ask of you. If I give each of you one of these coins, can you return them to me tomorrow morning when you go down to the river to draw water?” “That’s all we have to do?” one of the water sellers asked. “Sure, we can do that.” So, early the next morning, Kim Seondal went down to the river and set up a booth, making sure it would be visible from the streets where he knew the rich man would walk. Then he sat down on a stool and waited. The water sellers began to arrive at the river, and when they spotted Kim Seondal they immediately went over to him and gave him their coins. The pile of coins on the counter of his booth grew to an impressive size. As Kim Seondal was counting the coins, he heard someone clear his throat behind him. He turned to find the rich man standing there, eyeing the pile of money. “Excuse me, good sir,” he said, “But I couldn’t help noticing that you seem to have a business of sorts here. Do you mind if I ask what it is you are selling?” “Why, the water, of course,” Kim Seondal replied. The rich man raised his eyebrows. He was skeptical at first, but then a few water sellers walked by, and each gave Kim Seondal a coin. Kim Seondal explained to him that the rights to the river water had been in his family for generations. “But it does get tiring,” he added with a sigh. “I have to come down to the river every day to collect the fees!” The rich man’s eyes narrowed. Here was an opportunity. “And how much is the fee for a day?” he asked. “Oh, it’s only a single don.” The rich man made some quick calculations. One don per water seller . . . that would be one nyang for ten water sellers, and if there were a hundred that would be ten nyang a day . . . three hundred nyang a month, over three thousand a year! He had to act quickly. “It must be tiring, indeed,” he said, keeping his voice level. “I could take the river off your hands for, say, ten thousand nyang.” Kim Seondal hesitated—after all, the river had been in his family for generations—but finally he agreed. A contract was drawn up, the money changed hands, and Kim Seondal went on his way, leaving the rich man to collect the rest of the coins. But the next day, when the rich man went to the booth by the river, the water sellers passed him by without even a glance. “Hey!” he shouted. “You’re forgetting the fee!” One of the water sellers stopped, puzzled. “What fee?” “The water fee, for drawing water from the river!” Then the water sellers realized what Kim Seondal had done and began to laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous!” said the first water seller. “Nobody owns this river!” The rich man was furious, and he went in search of the former owner of the river. Not surprisingly, though, Kim Seondal was nowhere to be found.   It should be obvious by now that Kim Seondal is a classic trickster. Today, he would be known as a con man. In fact, his name has become so synonymous with con men that it is used in Korea to describe particularly devious practitioners of the confidence game; “modern-day Bongi Kim Seondal” is a phrase that can still be read in newspaper headlines or heard on the evening news. The only problem is that Kim Seondal wasn’t just a con man. His name is now used as a label for every grifter and scam artist who makes the news, but Kim Seondal was not a common criminal. He did indeed bilk the chicken seller out of a considerable amount of money, but had the chicken seller been an honest man in the first place he never would have been a victim. And, as in the selling of the Taedong River, the mark is always a rich man or an aristocrat—that is, someone who, in the Joseon period when the tales were set, would have made life difficult for the common folk. Kim Seondal, like any good trickster, challenges the status quo and shakes the pillars that uphold the social structure. He shows us a world in which the rich and the unscrupulous don’t always get away with things, a world that is maybe a little more hopeful than the one we all live in. Kim Seondal is only one of many colorful characters to be found in the world of the Korean folktale, but he shows us that folktales are not merely stories from the past. They are a living, breathing part of the culture of Korea.             by Charles La ShureAssociate Professor of Korean LiteratureSeoul National University 2018-12-13 00:00:00https://kln.or.kr/strings/inkstoneView.do?bbsIdx=1339essayDokkaebi: The Goblins of Korean MythThis column introduces our readers to Korean fables, myths, and oral literature. It explores the origins of folktales that have been passed down through generations and continue to affect our lives to this day.  A dokkaebi needs a human bride to end his immortal life, an amnesic grim reaper is forced by bizarre circumstances to become his housemate, and a girl “destined to die” claims to be the dokkaebi’s bride. This is the plotline of the hit television fantasy romance Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, based on the folklore of the dokkaebi, Korea’s version of the goblin. Is the TV-version of the dokkaebi a faithful representation of the goblin of Korean folklore? Prof. Kim Jong-dae, known as Dr. Dokkaebi, says the dokkaebi really just want to hang out with people. Learn about the dokkaebi’s place in Korean culture and how it differs from the goblins of China and Japan.   1. Dokkaebi are popular characters of Korean legend. “Character” here doesn’t mean “human.” They can seem god-like at times, other times like ghosts. At any rate, these so-called goblins share both positive and negative attributes. Dokkaebi are known to have many abilities, the most precise record of which happens to be from a fifteenth-century work titled Seokbo Sangjeol. It speaks of invoking the dokkaebi, to wish upon them for good fortune or longevity. We can see here how dokkaebi were, like gods, an object of worship. Considering how the belief that dokkaebi can bring good fortune persists to this day is an indication of the primacy of this particular characteristic. The very word dokkaebi is a compound of tot and abi: abi denotes an adult male and tot means fire or seed. The combination of these two words therefore signifies a male god capable of creating great riches. Today dokkaebi are primarily thought of as makebelieve characters, but this is because we have forgotten about where our traditional belief came from. Dokkaebi have long been worshipped, a notable example of these being the Pungeo-shin god who is prayed to by fishermen for a good catch. This dokkaebi was especially popular among the people living in the region near the Yellow Sea. The marshlands there would make noises as trapped air escaped with the tide, leading people to say they were dokkaebi footsteps. People who resided in that region had a tradition of climbing to a high vantage point on the last day of the lunar year to scan the ocean for dokkaebi bul, atmospheric lights of unknown origin, to later cast nets upon those spots. We could say this practice reflects the fishermen’s hope for a big haul. In the Jeolla provinces, dokkaebi are considered harbingers of disease, and there are rituals for exorcising them. In the mountainous regions, they are believed to start forest fires, and so dokkaebi rituals are held accordingly. Such stories of the dokkaebi draw a marked contrast with their counterparts in fiction. Of course, there are many stories of the dokkaebi bringing riches. But aside from this narrative, the abilities of dokkaebi tend to be expressed a bit differently in stories, like those that talk of “wrestling with dokkaebi” or being “bewitched by dokkaebi.” Some say that the dokkaebi’s love of drinking and women show how they are projections of the desires of men during the Joseon age. Traditional wrestling, or ssireum, was a particularly popular sport, useful for showing off strength and manly virility. The dokkaebi in stories would also grab onto passing men and wrestle them, and it is interesting how they always lose in such matches.   2. In ancient records the dokkaebi were usually written with the gwi (鬼) character. In Seongho Saseol (Accounts of Seongho), Seongho Yi Ik transliterated dokkaebi using the Chinese character for “one-legged ghost,” which may have been the origin of the belief that the dokkaebi had only one leg. This is perhaps where the story that they’re easy to beat in a wrestling match comes from. But the One-Legged Ghost lives in the mountains of China, and is therefore difficult to be seen as a cognate of the dokkaebi. This is a point also made in comparison with Japan’s oni. Japan has a rich and diverse tradition of demons (yōkai), providing the cultural basis for products such as Pokémon or Digimon. A similar culture never quite established itself in Korea where the savage tiger already ruled the night. And perhaps because of this, Koreans instead came up with the idea of being possessed by dokkaebi, not ghosts. We also attributed the role of disease-spreading ghosts to the dokkaebi and held cleansing rituals accordingly. The dokkaebi rites of Jindo or Sunchang in the Jeolla provinces are good examples, as is the Yeonggam Nori of Jeju Island where women’s illnesses, thought to be caused by dokkaebi, are exorcised. Such instances show how dokkaebi have come to take on new meanings different from their original significance. During the Japanese colonial era, dokkaebi became subsumed by oni. This is how the Japanese story Kobutori Jisan turned into Hokburiyeonggam (The Old Man with a Lump on His Neck) in colonial-era Korean textbooks, a case of the oni being transferred wholesale into the dokkaebi tradition. This story in colonial-era textbooks would have served to show that Korea and Japan have a single cultural root, an attempt at justifying colonial rule.   3. The time has come for the dokkaebi to return to their true form. People are wont to carelessly refer to Korean dokkaebi or Japanese dokkaebi, but they are clearly mistaken. Dokkaebi exist in Korea, not in Japan. Dokkaebi, in other words, are exclusively Korean monsters. An important distinction to make between dokkaebi and Chinese and Japanese monsters is that dokkaebi wish to live among people. They persist in having themselves known to mortals and to seek ties with them. They are not human-like tricksters but innocent and even forgetful. They love drinking, eating meat, and enjoy playing games. They may very well be the manifestation of our deepest desire for our own selves.        by Kim Jong-daeChung-Ang University2017-04-05 00:00:00