This study aims to examine the memories and reaction to the disease in Pansori Byeongangsoi-ga based on the facts of cholera pandemic in Joseon society in the 19th century.
First, through the records related to the cholera pandemic in Joseon society in the 19th century, we looked at the patterns and characteristics of the infectious disease experience imprinted in the memory of the group, focusing on the starting point, the speed and spread range, symptoms and objects. It was confirmed that cholera, which started in Pyeongando, boasted a tremendous speed and left great pain and numerous corpses in the entire 19th century Joseon society. And It was confirmed that the lower class people who were in a difficult economic condition were damaged more than the upper class. And it can be seen that this experience left the memories of fear and anxiety reminiscent of PTSD to the Joseon people at that time.
Based on this, This study looked at the traces of the memories of the infectious disease experience in Byeongangsoi-ga. In the first half of Byeongangsoi-ga, the memory of the infectious disease was confirmed through the setting of death due to contact, mass death, and the starting space(Pyeongando). In the middle of the work, it can be seen that memories related to the symptoms of the pain left by the contagious disease, the rapid spreading speed, and bitter reality of “the plague of the poor” are the main elements of the formation. In the second half of the work, it was confirmed that the common scenery of the 19th century, when the body was flooded, is projected into the space where the living and the dead coexist, the appearance of the corpse stuck to the ground and people, and the ending of grinding away teeth.
After that, I tried to understand how the reaction to the shock of the infectious disease was revealed in Byeongangsoi-ga. In particular, it is important to pay attention to the process by which people in the boundaries of the community otherize Ongnyeo and Gangsoi through public opinion. Through the appearance of the fence between ‘we’ and ‘them’ becoming taller and more solid, it was confirmed that “the logic of discrimination and exclusion” was leading the way in response to the epidemic. In addition, by looking at the historical cases in which the logic of discrimination and exclusion' appears in, Byeongangsoi-ga shows the tragedy of humanity caused by the unprecedented disease of cholera in Joseon society in the 19th century.
In a similar crisis situation of cholera in the 19th century and COVID-19 in the 21st century, How much has the ‘level of humanity’ which can be confirmed by the response to the disease improved compared to 200 years ago? Are the logics of discrimination and hostility, hatred and exclusion still in operation? The above questions posed by Byeongangsoi-ga have great implications even today. As such, Byeongangsoi-ga literately well portrays the memories of the cholera pandemic in the 19th century Joseon society and their reactions to it, and raises fundamental questions about human problems based on the memory of the epidemic. In this regard, when discussing “disease literature” in Korean literature history, Pansori Byeongangsoi-ga can be “epidemic narrative” representing the 19th century.