[KS] Rags-to-riches in Korean literature?
gary at cadurx.com
Thu Dec 22 18:08:01 EST 2005
I'm new to the list and have been lurking in the background for several
months, afraid to contribute.
I'll introduce myself by taking a chance here and suggesting that
perhaps Heo Jun (1546-1615) would qualify as a "rags-to-riches"
archetype. As I recall, he was born to a concubine, but rose to a
position of prominence (court physician) during Seonjo's reign and
authored the widely acclaimed Dong eui bo gam (sorry--I learned McCune
Reischauer and am struggling with the new Romanization).
Although not strictly a literary figure, he has nevertheless maintained
position of prominence in contemporary Korean culture and has been the
topic of at least one TV docudrama and a historical novel, I believe.
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gary at cadurx.com
From: Koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:Koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Stefan Ewing
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:25 PM
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] Rags-to-riches in Korean literature?
Dear KS List Members:
Brother Anthony wrote:
>An interesting question would be whether, given the cheating associated
>with the Gwageo exam, and the fact that it was only open to those of
>Yangban birth, anyone ever saw it as opening the way to social
Perhaps for "country yangban" (_sigol yangban_?)? Given the ebb and
family favour depending on who held influence in the royal court, there
have been at least a few people born into relatively poor yangban
far away from the power centre of Hanso^ng in such places as Andong,
Anso^ng, or Anju, who wrote and passed the civil service exam, and
eventually rose to fame and influence.
I'm perhaps the least knowledgeable person here on Korean literature,
a docudramatic example, I recall the character Yi/Ri/Li Sukpo^n (played
So^n Tonghyo^k) in the 1996-98 KBS teledrama _Tears of the Dragon_
Nunmul_). He rose from evident obscurity in Anso^ng (born to the
Yi/Ri/Li clan), passed the civil service exam with flying colours
to the drama), took his first official post as commissioner of Ansan
(_Ansangunjisa_), and eventually became the future T'aejong's right-hand
man--described on one website as "Yi Pangwo^n's kingmaker."
(I have no idea how much or what is written of him in the annals on
the drama is based, however, or how much his story was embellished for
Nor do I know what his clan's status was at the time, but his origins
certainly presented in the drama as being thoroughly provincial in
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