This study focuses on two specific history of Korean literature in Chinese: the outline of The History of Joseon Literature (2010) by Li Yan and The History of Joseon Literature (1988, 2008) by Wei Xu-sheng; it was conducted to compare narrative viewpoints to the history of South and North Korean literature and therefore identify distinguishable characteristics. As a result, the following was concluded.
First, The History of Korean Literature by Cho Dong-il and The History of Korean Literature in North Korea (15 volumes) include thorough discussions on division of historical eras, concept of genres as well as individual literary works and applied such discussions on writing literary history. However, Wei Xu-sheng and Li Yan’s The History of Korean Literature did not illuminate theoretical discussion of South and North Korea. Li Yan’s outline of The History of Joseon Literature was published in 2010 and the first edition of Wei Xu-sheng’s The History of Joseon Literature was published in 1986 and later was published as revised editions in 2000 and 2008. Regarding published dates, it is a matter of course to reference Cho Dong-il’s The History of Korean Literature, published in the 1980s, or The History of Korean Literature in North Korea (15 volumes), published in the 1990s; nevertheless, neither Wei Xu-sheng nor Li Yan used those texts in their works. Their works were heavily influenced by the narrative tradition of the history of national literature and therefore, entailed unsophisticated discussion on the division of historical eras or the concept of genres.
Second, those two texts also emphasized external factors such as politics, society, economy and culture and explicitly mention these factors in historical overview of each chapter. Such an approach is commonly used in narratives of literary history under socialist regimes, including The History of Korean Literature in North Korea (15 volumes). Accordingly, evaluations based on ‘political standards’ – stress of people, nationality, practicality and so forth – in main texts are particularly accentuated, akin to narratives of literary history under socialist regimes.
Finally, since those two Korean literature history works are written by Chinese scholars, they focus on correlation between Chinese literature history and Korean literature history. However, several genre-related terminologies such as Xiaopin (a kind of essay), Yuefu (a kind of popular song/poem), Yuyan (fable), Shuochang (telling of popular stories with the interspersal songs), Shizhuan (biography or/and memoirs in history) were adopted directly from Chinese literature. In analyzing Korean literature using terminologies introduced from Chinese literature, differences between original and alternative definitions were not examined in detail. While some terminologies and concepts were adopted directly without further consideration as to state of the two nations, it is also interesting to note that dichotomy, mainly used in Korean literature history, was used to discuss the genre of Cheonki (romance tale), relevant to Suyichon and Keumosinhua, rather than follow traditions of Chinese literature history.