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Korean Literature and Culture
Transcript of Korean Literature and Culture
began around 400,000~500,000 BC
began 5,000 ~ 6,000 BC
self sufficient clan community
religious beliefs in animism/shamansism
began 1,000 BC - to 400 BC
highly stratified society
dolmens & bronze weapons
Chinese iron culture +
Scytho-Siberian bronze culture
■ Archeological remains
■ Written Records
Sources for Early Korea
Old Chosŏn (Kochosŏn/ Chosŏn)
Founded by Tan’gun
in BC 2,333 with its
center in Pyongyang
Contested origin and territorial boundaries
400 BC: Developed into a confederated kingdom
Claimed to be succeeded by later states: Koryŏ, Chosŏn, and North and South Korea
Founded by Kija,
a Chinese prince
from the Yin
Dynasty in 1000 BC
with its center in
The Liodong region.
Image of the legendary king from the Sajik Park of Chongno, Seoul
(37 BC?~668 AD)
Iron Age (began 400 BC)
King Chun deposed by Wiman, a refugee from China
Wiman Chosŏn fell to Han China and four commandaries established in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.
Three Kingdoms/Unified Silla
Koguryo 37 BC - 668 AD
Silla 57 BC - 935 AD
Kaya 42 BC - 562 AD
Paekche 18 BC - 660 AD
Origin: Founded by Chumong (King Tongmyŏng) from Puyŏ between the Yalu River and the T’ung-chia River basin (north of the current DPRK border with China)
Territory: conquered Puyŏ, Okcho, Ye, and two Han commadaries (Lo-lang and Xuantu), expanding deep into Eastern Manchuria
Relations with neighboring countries:
Military conflicts with Han, Sui, and Tang.
Strategic alliance with Northern and Southern Dynasties of China, Silla, Peakchae, and Turks.
Chinese Cultural Influences:
In 372, King Sosurim (371-384) adopted Buddhism as a state religion and established T’aehak, the first Confucian academy in Korea.
Adoption of Chinese Characters
Compilation of National History
The Ch’ ŏmsŏngdae observatory
Society and Culture
Centralized aristocratic state:
the Hwabaek (Council of Nobles) institution
Silla village registers (changjŏk): detailed records of villages (size of the land, census by gender and age, kinds and number of slaves, trees, domestic animals)
Rigid Social Hierarchy: (cf. Chang Pogo’s rise)
the bone-rank system + slavery.
Economic Prosperity: maritime trade and agriculture
14th Century Portraits in the Kyoto National Museum, Japan
4 CE (Koguryŏ, Paekchae) ~ 6 CE (Silla)
justified the social hierarchy through the concept of karma and rebirth
created a spiritual unity in the nation
allowed the Koreans to participate in a sophisticated cosmopolitan culture
stimulated the development of arts and architecture
Syncretic: merged with Taoism, Shamanism, and Confucianism
State Buddhism (Hoguk pulgyo)
in the Three Kingdom Period
▲ Hwarang (flower boy), a member of Silla’s elite military institution.
1. Serve your sovereign with loyalty
2. Attend your parents with filial piety
3. Treat your friends with sincerity
4. Do not retreat from a battle field
5. Be discriminating about the taking of life
“Five Commandments for Laymen”
Founder of Koryŏ
Kyŏn Hwŏn of
Late Three Kingdoms Period (900-935)
The main source of our current knowledge about Koryŏ is History of Koryŏ (Koryŏ sa), which was compiled in the Chosŏn era, between 14th and 15th century, by the order of King Sejong in the style of shiji, or samguk sagi, with annals and biographies.
The Jogye Temple in Seoul
Portrait at the Songgwang Temple
in Sunch’ŏn, South Chŏlla Province
-Entered priesthood through the state exam for
-Synthesized the Textual School (the Flower
Garland Sutra) with the Contemplative School
-Established the Jogye sect, which became the
biggest sect of Korean Buddhism.
Chinul (1158~1210) and Koryŏ Buddhism
I. Early Koryŏ (932~1170):
the civil service examination (958);
continued strength of aristocracy
Chinese portrait of the Yuan Empress
Empress Ki as a femme fatale
In 2005-2006 Korean TV drama Sin Don
Empress Ki (1320?~ )
(Account of Eastern Barbarians)
a section of Sanguozhi
(Record of Three Kingdoms)
Composed around: 297 AD
By: Chen Shou
(History of Three Kingdoms)
Date: 1145 AD
By: Kim Pusik, a Koryŏ confucian scholar official
Consists of: annals, biographies, and treatises on various topics
(Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms)
Date written: 1279 AD after the Mongol invasion
Compiled by: the monk Iryŏn
Includes many stories about Buddhism and also other stories of wonders including the earliest record of Tan’gun
(The Historical Record)
Date written: 100 BC
By: Sima Qian
T’aejo Yi Sŏnggye
Chosŏn (1392-1910 )
Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) left writings that advocated the ideal of a civil monarchy led by a sage king and supported by scholar-officials. His writings became a basis of Confucianism, a political, social, ethical, and philosophical system of thought.
China, 500 BC, warring states
Chu Hsi (1130-1200) in Song Dynasty developed Neo-Confucianism, a metaphysical reinterpretation of Confucianism that incorporated Taoist and Buddhist cosmology. It is in this synthetic, spiritually reinforced version that Confucianism became more than principles of administration and predominated in the intellectual and cultural life of East Asia until the 19th century.
Origins of Confucianism
Kangindo, or Honil kangni yŏktae kukto chido
[Map of integrated lands and regions of historical countries and capitals]:
The oldest surviving world map of East Asia.
Choson, 1470 
Prime Minister Chŏng Tojŏn, a scholar, lawyer, architect, and musician
Confucian Ideal of Writing:
Writing should carry the way / Write but do not make up
Although instated in Unified Silla period, became codified in the Chosŏn dynasty. The classics licentiate (saengwŏn) and the literary licentiate (chinsa) exams were held triennially in local cities. In the final exam, which took place in Seoul, the candidates were tested in classics, literary composition (poetry, rhyme-prose, eulogy, admonition, treatise, memorial or edict), and a problem essay. Only 33 civil officials and 28 military officials were chosen.
For the classics examination candidates studied the Four Books and Five Classics.
The Civil Service Examination
The Royal Court of Chosŏn
The Annals of the Choson Dynasty
comprise 1,893 books covering 472 years (1392~1863) of the history of the Choson Dynasty, from the reign of King Taejo, the founder, to the end of the reign of King Cheoljong.
The contents of these annals are encyclopedic.
Professional officials, who were legally guaranteed independence in their record-keeping and the right to keep secrets, directly collected material, wrote drafts, edited them, and published the annals.
Five ancient Chinese books on poetry, history, rites, and geomancy, all supposedly compiled or edited by Confucius himself:
Classic of Changes
Classic of Poetry
Classic of Rites
Classic of History
Spring and Autumn Annals
Core Confucian texts on politics, philosophy, and ethics chosen by Chu Hsi:
The Great Learning
The Doctrine of the Mean
The Analects of Confucius
The Four Books
The Five Classics
Nobody was allowed to read the Draft History, not even the king, and anyone who disclosed its contents was severely punished.
Early Colonial Period
1910~1919: Japan adopted a military rule and the rice production increase policy; new literature emerged amid the ban on Korean-language periodicals except for the government’s.
20s New Culture Movement
1919~1931: Japan changed to the “Cultural Rule” and pursued the gradual industrialization of Korea; Koreans organized a variety of activist movements (nationalist, socialist, anarchist, feminist, etc.); Modern literature and arts, including cinema, developed.
1931~1936: Korea became a newly important military and industrial base for Japan after its founding of Manchukuo; Japan spurred the industrialization of Korea as well as tried to establish social stability through the selective repression of radical oppositions; the center of anti-colonialist resistance moved to Manchuria; the industrialization brought about a new middle class of professionals and entrepreneurs; cultural activism declined, but new urban culture flourished in major cities (Korea’s age of modernism).
1937~1945: Korea was increasingly embroiled in Japan’s ever expanding imperial war; to mobilize Korea’s material and human resources, Japan adopted intensive assimilation policies [the exclusive use of Japanese in publications; the change of Korean names into Japanese ones; the promotion of intermarriage; the mandatory worship of Shintoism; and the forced ideological conversion of socialists]; due to the wartime mobilization, nearly 3.5 million Koreans were living overseas by 1944.
Colonial Korea (1910-1945)
Cold War (1945-1960)
Korea divided into North and South by American and Russian agreement
The Liberation Space (1945-1948)
Korean War (and its Origins) 1950-1953
Divided Koreas 1953-Present Day
Manjok Slave Rebellion 1198 CE
Kim Manjung (1637-1692)
The Cloud Dream of the Nine
Originally a philosophy based on the writings of Lao Tzu (604-531 BC) and Zhuang Zhu,
respectively Tao tei ching and Zhuangzhu,
Taoism evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE and became a state-sponsored popular religion in China.
Origins of Taoism
Imported from Tang China about 7 CE during the Three Kingdom period and prospered in Koryŏ.
Taoism in Korea
Stories we read from Samguk Yusa
Pak Kyokkose, the Founder of Silla
King Suro, The Founder of Karak
Husband Yono, Wife Seo
Fa-Tsang's Letter to Uisang
The Lay of King Tongmyong"
(Tongmyong wang p'yon)
recorded by Yi Kyubo in 1241
their stories appear in Samguk yusa
(from Haedong Kosung chon)
From the Koryo Sa [History of Koryo]
Wang Kŏn, “Ten Injunctions”
Ch’oe Sŭngno, “On Buddhism”
“Manjŏk’s Slave Rebellion”
From Taejo Sillok
King T’aejo, “Founding Edict”
Inspector-General, “Admonition to the New King”
Palace Ladies of Chosŏn
Unyŏngjŏn: A Love Affair at Royal Palace of Chosŏn Korea
Early 17th Century
author Hŏ Kyun (1569~1618)
Folk paintings of Princess Bari
The Abandoned Princess
from Chosen fuzoku no kenkyu (1939-1938)
“Wretched Married Life”
“Song of an Old Maid”
KASA (Narrative Poetry)
Developed mid 15th century
popular with both men and women
enjoyed special popularity among elite women
Relevance to modern literature: After the advent of modernity in the 1880s, kasa also served as a main poetic medium for the propagation of modern ideas including Christianity.
Sirhak (Practical Learning)
reformist intellectual movements in the 17th~19th century.
Chŏngjo (1752~1800), a grandson and successor of Yŏngjo, is known as the “Enlightened Monarch” for his interest in new knowledge and science. His premature death at the age of 40 is a subject of much speculation among historians, all the more because Chosŏn began its decline after his death.
Yŏngjo the Great (1724~1776) is known to be the wisest king of Chosŏn next only to King Sejong, and his reign, the longest of all Chosŏn kings, is largely remembered a time of peace and prosperity. He managed to keep factional struggles under control and implemented policies that benefited the poor.
Chosŏn’s Enlightened Monarch #1
Chosŏn’s Enlightened Monarch #2
Pak Chega (1750~1805)
Discourse on Northern Learning (1778).
Born to a yangban’s concubine, he was Pak Chiwŏn’s disciplie and an erudite literatus. He became an interpreter for royal emissaries to China and tried to spread the new knowledge from Qing to Chos
Chǒng Yagyong (1762~1836);
Sirhak scholar par excellence; Korea’s “renaissance man”
Tonghak as a social movement:
1st uprising in April 1894
2nd uprising in October 1894
The Tonghak Uprising
Tonghak as a religious movement:
Ch’oe Cheu’s syncretic doctrine that combines Confucianism with Buddhism, shamanism, and Catholicism;
propagated by Ch’oe Sihyŏng (1827-1897) upon the strength of its message of social equality
1894 Sino-Japanese War
Documents from the Tonghak Peasant Uprisings
Pak Chiwǒn (1737~1805)
Jehol Diary (Yǒrha ilgi; 1790):
Record of his travel to China
and Satirical novels in Chinese
“The Story of Master Hŏ”
“Memorial of 1786”
“Tools and Techniques”
Yi Kwangsu (1892~1950)
30s Urban Industrialization
March 1st Movement
Kang Kyǒngae, “Underground Village
A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist
Kim Namch’ŏn, Barley
Yi T’aejun, Before and After Liberation
For what consequences?
The arbitrary decision divided, for instance, Kaesŏng into two.
After the establishment of separate governments in the north and the south in 1948, the line became the national border between the two Koreas until the outbreak of the Korean War.
On August 10, 1945, the day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Major Dean Rusk and Colonel Charles H. Bonesteel had 30 minutes to draw the “temporary” line for separate occupation zones; they settled for the 38th parallel for administrative convenience.
5th Century BC: Most historians agree that Buddhism originated in northern India
1st Century AD: Brought into China
II. Military Rule (1170~1271):
In 1170 a group of generals, provoked by the ill treatment of the military under the civil government, staged a coup d’etat.
The ruling Ch’oe family kept the royal court in place but created a private organizations to monopolize the administration and the military (1196-1258). Cf) Japan’s shogunate system.
III. Mongol Domination (1271~1356)
Koryŏ became Yuan’s tributary state and son-in-law country.
This colonization brought economic hardship and inspired nationalist passions among the elites, leading to the publication of Korean history and Buddhist scriptures.
But it also allowed Koreans to participate in Yuan’s cosmopolitan culture.
IV. The Demise of Koryŏ (1356~1392)
General Yi Sŏngye and a group of Confucian officials overthrew the corrupt royal court with the aim of establishing a Confucian state.
The First Hot War
Globally, the Korean War was the first hot war of the cold war era. As such, it substituted for WW III between the two superpowers and enabled “the long peace” of the cold war. (See William Stuek)
South Korea became dependent on the U.S. in economy and national defense and came to adopt anti-communist nationalism as its ruling ideology.
North Korea became still closer to China; Kim Ilsung secured his monopoly of power by purging his political rivals for their “responsibility” for the war’s cost.
U.S. expanded military presence in East Asia and beyond. Also became suspicious of third-world nationalism in other countries.
Europe increased armament with the help from the U.S.
USSR lost the trust of China, had to counter the growing military strength of Western Europe.
China emerged as the prime victor. After sacrificing nearly one million lives of its soldiers, it proved its capability of withholding against America.
Japan was able to restore its economy thanks to the war boom and emerged as a major ally of the U.S. in the region.
kim su yong
"ha... no shadows"
April 3, 1960
April 19 Student Movement
Na Tohyang, “Samnyong the Mute"
Samnyong the Mute (1964)
Poster and a still scene of
Samnyong with his beloved lady
The Korean Empire (1897 ~ 1910)
3 Day Coup D'etat
Murder of pro-Russian Queen Min
Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty