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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of a selection of English-language Korean folktale picture books Kim, Sae Yong


This study draws from the fields of folktale and fairy tale studies, Korean studies, and translation studies to examine the changes that are made to Korean folktales when they are retold in English, and published in North America in the form of picture books. The objective of the study is to determine whether discernible departures from the traditional, orally transmitted versions are apparent in the retold picture-book versions; to note any common trends in the types of changes which have been made (if any); and to discuss the possible reasons for such changes to be made. The theoretical framework of this study is based in translation studies, and depends on the identification of the folktale reteller as fulfilling the role and facing the same issues as a translator does in transmitting cultural content from the source audience to the target audience. Analysis is conducted via close readings of the primary texts, the retold picture books, and the reference texts, which are comprised of a collection of the traditional Korean folktales which have been retold as picture books in English. After close examination of the motifs present in the traditional and retold picture-book versions of two well-known Korean folktales, it was possible to conclude that one was domesticated, in its omission of all potentially offensive content and addition of a non-traditional happy ending. The other folktale retelling was a largely “faithful” version of the traditional story, but some judicious insertion of information into the text was necessary in order to recreate the experience of a reader of the source culture, due to a (perceived) lack of cultural knowledge of Korean customs on the part of the target reader.

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