Jaedam (才談), or a joke, is considered to have taken on a very important role in the structure of pansori narratives. But when one examines the transmission and transfiguration of pansori in a diachronic way, one can know jaedam hasn’t always been treated positively. Pansori as a performance art commonly had the tendency to reduce the amount of jaedam and seek musical completion. On the other hand, pansori as a text for reading takes on an entirely different tendency. It didn’t simply use jaedam but actively utilized it or expansively transformed it. Pansori as a performance art put top priority on the singers’ talents and highly valued “popularity,” and pansori as a text for reading focused on ‘interest’ through defamiliarization. So if this can be generalized, the relation between pansori and jaedam can be explained more clearly.
Simcheong-jeon (A Story of Sim Cheong) can be distinguished from other pansori works because it doesn’t have an apparent “conflictual relationship,” and it has the aesthetics of ‘tragic beauty’ as its main mood. That is why jaedam, which means amusing jokes that contain textual beauty, is hardly employed in Simcheong-jeon. There is little space for jaedam to settle in between the character’s action of noble sacrifice, and the method of resolving a problem by the intervention of the heavenly mandate aimed at rewarding the character for her behaviors. The overly serious, solemn, and ideological behavior of the character can sometimes cause negative influences on the completion of this piece. That is why a realistic, vulgar, and comical character was vitally required for maintaining the piece’s harmony and balance. So it is considered that the necessity of jaedam was brought up to meet these needs.
To summarize Simcheong-jeon by putting Sim Cheong’s father Sim Hak-gyu in the center of the story, it is about losing everything and then restoring it. Sim Hak-gyu, the blind man who had lost his wife but had a daughter, lost his daughter and got a second wife, and then loses not only his second wife but also all the possessions and honor. But he recovers almost all things after losing everything. In the process of losing everything and falling into the bottomless pit, the elder Sim turns vulgar and unhandsome. Simcheong-jeon is balanced sublimely between Sim Cheong and her father’s narrative. In other words, the solemn Simcheong and her vulgar father are forming two central axes. When one puts the part where Sim Cheong plunges into Indangsu Waters (印塘水) as the main scene, it is notable to see that jaedam, which hardly appeared prior to this scene, appears frequently. That is because jaedam takes an important role of describing Sim the blind father.
The fact that solemnity and vulgarity, tragic beauty and comic beauty formed harmony and balance is regarded as the important reason why Simcheong-jeon has been loved and passed down to the present times. And it’s worth noticing that jaedam took on a very important part in expressing vulgarity and comic beauty.