UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hong Kil-dong transcending time Kim, Mookyung


Hong Kil-dong Chon ([Korean characters] [The Story of Hong Kihdong]) is a work of Korean literature, which is generally believed to have been created by Ho Kyun ([Korean characters] [1569 — 1618]). The popularity of Hong Kil-dong Chon can be seen in the number of versions of the text and revisions that have been written over the years. The ultimate goal of the thesis is to investigate the factors that have made Hong Kil-dong Chon popular while contributing to its staying power. Two fundamental research hypotheses explore this issue: (1) The three pre-modern versions and the three modern rewritings of Hong Kil-dong Chon reflect Confucian ethics. (2) The new Hwalbindangs and the modern rewritings of Hong Kil-dong Chon reflect the same quintessential aspects portrayed in the traditional Hong Kil-dong. By depicting the relationships between its characters, Hong Kil-dong Chon shows a unique combination of simultaneously obeying and disobeying Confucian ethics. This feature greatly appeals to Koreans as Korean society evolves from absolute Confucian ethics to relative and situational ethics. Hong Kil-dong Chon successfully connects past with present and traditional values with changing morals adding to its popularity. Simple yet profound messages conveyed by the common quintessential aspects of the traditional Hong Kil-dong such as justice, bold action, optimism, and capability allow Hong Kil-dong Chon to transcend time. Hong Kil-dong has grown from a character in an orally transmitted story to a contemporary multi-media hero. Young and energetic Hong Kil-dong has indeed captured the heart and imagination of Korean people. He will continue to remain as an important representative of Korean identity.

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