[KS] Question regarding Sim Cheong

dmccann at fas.harvard.edu dmccann at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Aug 26 07:59:55 EDT 2010

The distinction between when a tale "was written" and when "written records"
became known is key to the p'ansori and other oral narrative forms such as
those studied by Parry and Lord, whose example Marshall Pihl then followed in
the study of the p'ansori..  The tale was composed in performance, after which
in various circumstances it may have been written down, rewritten as a novel,
or otherwise published.

It's a complex mix, the Korean language forms of expression.  The kasa form
seems to me, as someone who also writes poetry, too long to have been composed
first and then written down; and it seems rather 'literary,' at least in its
16th and 17th century examples, because of certain patterns of expression, and
the characteristic, sijo-like 3  5  4  3 syllable pattern of its final lines,
signaling the end.

The sijo itself?  Oral performance or written?  I'd suggest both, but the
question needs to be raised about each one.  An example like Chông Ch'ôl's sijo
about The shadow strikes in the water, a monk crosses the bridge, is gloriously
sophisticated, in a sort of technical sense, as the second line turns into pure
oral quotation: Yo Monk, stop there, so I can ask a question about where you are
going. The language of that line is completely colloquial speech in form, and
with the particular nuances of the verbs and such, carefully articulates the
distinction in social position between the speaker, a literati government
official, and the monk, who is a monk, but just a monk, after all.

Then the monk: "With his stick he points at the white clouds and goes on,
without turning to look back."

He doesn't deign to answer, but sends his interrogator a text message!

Can something like that be made up on the fly, orally?

David McCann

Quoting Jan Creutzenberg <jannberg at zedat.fu-berlin.de>:

> Dear María Mercedes,
> according to Marshall R. Pihl, the earliest manuscript of Shimch'ŏng-
> ga would be by Shin Chae-hyo--promoter and one of the first scholars
> of p'ansori--, dating from the 1870s. (This seems to be a literary re-
> working of the well-known p'ansori-song rather than a transcript.)
> The first woodblock editions of performance transcripts appeared in
> the early 20th century. See Pihl's study The Korean Singer of Tales
> (Harvard UP 1994) for more information on this matter (especially pp.
> 113-121) and a translation of the ~1916 Wanp'an-woodblock edition.
> Best regards, Jan
> ---
> Jan Creutzenberg
> 107-55 Nogosan-dong, Mapo-gu
> Seoul (zip 121-100)
> Republic of Korea
> jan.creutzenberg at fu-berlin.de
> mobile: +82-(0)10-6874-5575
> http://seoulstages.wordpress.com
> ***
> Good evening!
> I'm writing from Argentina (please excuse my grammar mistakes, my
> English
> still needs improvement), with a question to which I haven't been
> able to
> find an answer yet.
> Does anybody know around what time the traditional tale of Sim Cheong
> ( 심청 )
> was written? Or in which century the first written records of it became
> known? I've only found the dates of famous performances of it as
> pansori,
> from 1788 onwards.
> Thank you very much for your time.
> María Mercedes Gallo.

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