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Farming and Farmer in Chinese short story in late Joseon Dynasty - Running and Ruling Agriculture

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2014, (30), pp.5-29
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose

Kim, Sooyoun 1

1한국학중앙연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study contemplates farming and farmer in Chinese short story in late Joseon Dynasty. In the process, I expect literature text would contri bute to finding images of farmers not captured by agricultural books. Farmers in Chinese short stories are generally of noble birth(兩班, Yangban). At this point, we can find farmers not predestined but professional. Strictly speaking, occupation or job is put focus on profe ssional farmers not predestined farmers. Today it is so natural to separate origin from job. Meanwhile, the classification of the traditional four classes of society (士農工商, scholars, farmers, artisans and tradesmen) makes us equate vocational farmer with familial farmer. In that farmers in Chinese short stories show us the process of division vocational from familial farmer, it foretells, in today's point of viwe, 'the birth of a job'. The short story records farmers' whereabouts literarily, but their attitudes in life were seen sincerely. It's because the image of agriculture of the day contains completely different side from that of history books, philosophy books, or agricultural books. Preceding researches defined farmers in Chinese short stories as a wealthy managerial peasants. However, the fact in each story comes near to smallholders rather than wealthy managerial peasants. In the first half of the work, the process of running agriculture(經農) was stood out, but the concept of ruling agriculture(治農) was emphasized in the second half. Preceding researches put more weight on the first half. They randomly connect ruined Yangban's engaging in farming with advancement of technology written in agricultural books and assert that farmers in Chinese short stories are wealthy managerial peasants. It is undeniable that it is caused by the theory of wealthy managerial peasants, a temporary vogue. Recent researches on agriculture history are pointing out mistakes of the theory of wealthy managerial peasants and verifying that late Joseon was the society of agriculture integration or small homogenization of farming land. If we read or understand objectively the first and second half of the story, the true life of farmers in the work is also the ruling agriculture by a small scale landowner. So there is room for reconsideration about the view which farmers in Chinese short stories are wealthy managerial peasants.

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