「Simsimdanghanhwa」 is a Chinese-written short story contained in An Seok-gyeong’s 『Sapgyomanrok』 consisting of total six tales of characters like Moon Cheon-sang, Jo Gwang-jo, Gwon Pil, Lee Ja-ui, Min Jeong-jung, and Kim In-hu (Jeong Cheol). This study first examines the narrative structure of each tale and meaning of the character sketches and considers thematic consciousness that the writer intended to deliver ultimately based on that.
This work is equipped with a complex structure in which six anecdotes and critical remarks are mingled, and with this complex structure, it reveals thematic consciousness. At the end of each individual story, the author makes a critical remark to evaluate the character, and through that critical remark, the readers come to ruminate on the person’s life. Also, as the six cases are organized with characters in different circumstances while being associated with the common subject matter, the readers get to go through the process to discover the theme on their own naturally comparing the cases.
In the first half, three persons are seonbi devoted to their own ‘faith’, and the values they pursue and their deeds coincide. Moon Cheon-sang and Jo Gwang-jo are the characters making other people die being too immersed into following their principles while Gwon Pil is evaluated as a person causing the same result but maintaining his own faith. In the latter half, three persons are associated with the matter of ‘hypocrisy (外飾)’; therefore, the values they pursue do not coincide with their own deeds. Lee Ja-ui is criticized as a character representing seonbi that are hypocritical, and Min Jeong-jung is a person pursuing authority being sunk under distorted self-conviction. Kim In-hu and Jeong Cheol reveal the case that follow scholars imitate only the appearance of senior scholars to bring about negative results.
With its six tales, 「Simsimdanghanhwa」 draws discussion about ‘seonbi’s righteous behavior’. The writer warns about adherence to principles with no consideration on others and double-faced hypocrisy to deceive oneself and others, too.