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The Story World and Possible Worlds of HanJoong-rok

  • The Research of the Korean Classic
  • 2023, (62), pp.125-151
  • Publisher : The Research Of The Korean Classic
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature > Korean Literature > Korean classic prose
  • Received : July 25, 2023
  • Accepted : August 11, 2023
  • Published : August 31, 2023

Kim Jeong-kyoung 1

1인천대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article seeks to read the codes behind the utterances and actions of the narrators in the HanJoong-rok, or the semantic foundations that make such narratives possible. To do so, the HanJoong-rok is examined in relation to the possible worlds surrounding the text, rather than the actual world. By establishing a layer of possible worlds between the narrative world and the real world, I wanted to look more specifically at Hyeokgyeonggung as a writing subject, not as an agent of the Hong family or a victim of palace tragedy. What Hyeogyeonggung hoped to reveal through the HanJoong-rok was the answer to the following questions: Is Gyeongmogung qualified to be a true monarch? According to Hyeogyeonggung, Gyeongmogung had all the qualifications to be a true monarch, but unfortunately, she also suffered from an incurable disease, madness. In other words, he was collectively incapable of being a monarch who embodied Confucian ideals. And this incurable disease was the ultimate cause of his untimely death. In short, in the eyes of Hyeogyeonggung, Gyeongmogung lacked the qualities of an ideal monarch, and ultimately his tragic death was inevitable. We also see that Hyeokgyeonggung is aware of the contradiction between her inability to be king and her qualities that make her superior to the prince. She is fit to be king because she judges everything in terms of Confucian causes and ideals, but she is not “allowed” to be king because she is a woman. In this article, I argue that this self-perception of Hyegyeonggung is closely related to the reading of novels that were popular among women of the time. Stories in which female characters with exceptional abilities and qualities are temporarily elevated to heroic status through cross-dressing were widely read at the time, and it is through these stories that Hyegyeonggung may have been able to recognize her own deficiencies and limitations, while also dreaming of a world in which she could be a protagonist faithful to Confucian causes and ideals.

Citation status

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