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Analysis on “Simka Gwae-gwi” in The Context of Tales on Starving Ghosts in the late Chosun Dynasty

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2023, (60), pp.67-97
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose
  • Received : January 1, 2023
  • Accepted : February 8, 2023
  • Published : February 28, 2023

Solmi Chung 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to explore how the author of Kirichonghwa, Lee Hyun-ki, satirizes the fallen yangban in “Simka Gwae-gwi”. He utilizes a traditional structure of starving ghost stories but adds his own twists and techniques to create a unique work that exposes the absurd attitudes of the yangban. Unlike traditional narratives, Lee places fallen yangban in the role of the ghost and ridicules their behavior and beliefs. He also uses irony to highlight the flawed perception of the yangban towards their own situation. Through his work, Lee criticizes the limits of the fallen nobility by emphasizing their mentality and depicting their poverty as something “fateful” that cannot be avoided. Furthurmore, what distinguishes “Simka Gwae-gwi” from other works in Kirichonghwa is its unique approach to depicting the fallen yangban. Lee Hyun-ki creates many protagonists that exhibit the typical characteristics of the fallen yangban class, but unlike other works that offer a clear contrast with the middle and lower classes who adapt to the changing realities of the times, “Simka Gwae-gwi” only focuses on the mentality of the yangban by depicting transcendent beings. At the same time, their poverty is depicted as “unavoidable” that only deepens their distress, further emphasizing the limits of their situation. To sum up, Lee Hyun-ki's use of satire, irony, and transcendent beings offers a critical perspective on the limits of the fallen yangban’s mentality and their poverty. This technique is often found in modern and even contemporary novels, and through this, we can see that Lee sought innovation in his perception and writing style from the traditional ones.

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