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The Relevance of the TV Series “Guardian” to Classical Korean Narrative Literature and the Meaning of Its Storytelling

Jaiin Park 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the traditional methods of storytelling, focusing on Kim Shin who was the protagonist of the TV drama series “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” (Dokkaebi, a higher spiritual being translated as "goblin") and who was most popular among many other dokkaebi characters that have appeared in a number of modern cultural contents. Examining its narrative relevance to "Chasa-bonpuri," along with "Yeonggam-bonpuri" and "Dohwanyeo and Bihyeongrang" that depict dokkaebis as deities in reverence. The narrative of the drama centering around the dokkaebi, Kim Shin, shows the similarities with the three traditional narratives mentioned above. It is similar with "Yeonggam-bonpuri," a shaman ritual indigenous to the Jeju Island, in a sense that Kim Shin had been abandoned by the authorities and degraded into an implemental entity, and later on, exerted his divine powers for those people seeking for his help at anytime and anywhere. It also resembles "Dohwanyeo and Bihyeongrang" in a sense that Kim Shin had helped other people with his mysterious power while living as an immortal undead, and punished Bak Jung-heon, the evil spirit, as an exorcist. Moreover, Kim Shin directly intervened in humans affairs and deaths, too, while manifesting his divine power, and this characteristic had not been found in other traditional dokkaebi narratives; it is concerned with the abilities of Gang Rim, the royal messenger in the mundane world in "Chasa-bonpuri." Also, the process of how Gang Rim solved the problem of finding his partner as he had experienced the afterlife corresponds to how Kim Shin recognized his real soul mate. And, the drama does not remain in only pursuing freshness and ingenuity through fusion with the traditional narratives. but also illustrates human anguish by presenting problems which have been succinctly, but relatively less, dealt with in the traditional narratives. The problem about ‘grudge of the abandoned,’ which is left behind by "Yeonggam-bonpuri" is solved by the story of Bihyeong; and another problem that comes out of integration with Bihyeong ‘s story is induced to the conclusion of choosing his way to the afterlife, as was just done by Gang Rim, the royal messenger in the mundane world. Though the fate of life and death as a result of it and the problem of such sad separation repeated through reincarnations, it ended with the continuous connections of destiny. In other words, the story of Kim Shin has the form of a narrative fusion in a way that it starts from "Yeonggam-bonpuri" and concludes with the stories of Bihyeong and of Gang Rim, as well as the flexible connections between those three narratives as the solutions for the resurfacing problems caused by each combination of the narratives. This kind of fusion method for traditional narratives can be a new means of storytelling. While creating a fresh story with fusion between a narrative and another, at the same time, this method invents a new story by closing up gaps of its narrative that are made in the form of fusion. In addition, the narrative flow with Kim Shin at its center has its broad frame in plots of a shaman myth, so that its diverse narratives show stereotyped features in their integration. It looks like a narrative of any shaman myth in the point that an ordinary human who had scars transcend a certain point to get his own divinity. That is, such narrative traditions of Korea are found in the storytelling itself that has been formed by its fusion with the traditional narratives. As shown in the above, the drama "Tokkaebi" is the successful case among the storytelling techniques of traditional narratives, as well as the modern content for confirming continuity of mythical influences in modern times.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.