UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gendered filiality and heroism in the Tale of Golden Bell, a Choson fictional narrative Olsen, Leif


Gendered Filiality and Heroism in the Tale of Golden Bell, a Choson Fictional Narrative Heroic deeds depicted in a Choson-period fictional narrative, Kum pangul chon (Kumnyong chon [Chinese Characters] or the Tale of Golden Bell, are performed by the title character, born with supernatural attributes. All the while exemplifying filiality, Golden Bell wields miraculous power to defeat the enemy, bring solace to a troubled people, protect the nation, and aid Zhang Hailong, a filial young man. The tale portrays a female (born as a golden bell) who possesses power greater than men, but in the end it is through her filial devotion, beauty, polygynous marriage to Hailong, and mothering of two sons that she is deemed virtuous, and not through her feats. Golden Bell, a product of her mother's own filiality to her agnatic lineage, exhibits filial emotions, while Hailong plays the exemplar of filial Confucian virtues. Golden Bell's supernatural achievements are overshadowed by both Hailong's and Golden Bell's emulation of Confucian ideologies. Golden Bell, along with other similar fictional narratives with female protagonists, attracted a wide readership. Why were Golden Bell and similar works so popular among readers in Neo-Confiician Choson? How is heroism in Golden Bell and other stories with female heroes different from narratives with male heroes? This paper explores the kososol [Chinese Characters] (early fiction) genre; the widespread reading, transcription, and distribution of narratives; the characteristics of female hero narratives; and the heroic deeds presented in Golden Bell itself. A complete translation of Golden Bell and a transcription of the oldest extant copy are included in the appendices.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.