The male protagonists in Korean classic novels both written in Korean and Written in Chinese characters were usually heroes, noble men, or men of literary talent, all of who were patriarchs measuring up to the Confucian standards. Hwanmonggwagi belongs to the genre of dream journey stories and Jongsaengjeon belongs to the genre of fictional biography. As these genres are written in Chinese letters and feature male intellectuals.
The protagonist of Hwanmonggwagi is a jobless widower who calls himself a drunkard. The protagonist of Jongsaengjeon is a poor and incompetent 40-year-old bachelor. In the 19th Century Korean Novels written in Chinese characters, these kinds of worthless male protagonists are visualized. This seems to be related to the realities of the collapsed yangban men without prospects at that time. These two novels were written by humbled yangban men who lived in Chungcheong and Gyeongsang provinces respectively. Although the literary achievements of these novels are not high, they are significant in the sense that negative or insignificant male characters appear as the protagonists. In the narrative literature of the 19th century Korea, worthless male protagonists were visualized while female characters were presented as being independent and having problem-solving capabilities. This change in character types reflect the realities of the time.