3 Interesting Genres of Korean Literature

pTranslate translation service global email marketing

Written by: Thanh Trâm & Thùy Linh

A GLIMPSE OF CULTURE | KOREA

Why is Korea one of the countries that are known and loved by many people all over the world? Is it because Korea has music stars, romance films, or delicious food? That’s right! They are attractive things about this country. 

Do you know what you missed? It would be a mistake to not learn about Korean literature if you are a lover of this beautiful and interesting country. 

In This Article, You Will Learn About:

  1. Folklore
  2. Classic literature
  3. Modern literature
Korean literature

1. Korean Folklore

Korean folklore was handed down before Korea was divided by the 38th parallel in 1945. At that time, there was common literature on the whole peninsula.

Korean folklore is famous for some genres like fairy tales, proverbs, folk poetry, and folk theatre art. Generally, Korean folklore works have some similarities to Vietnam folklore.

In the fairy tale genre, characters are divided into good and evil; those in power are often cruel, greedy, and selfish while farmers are honest, generous, and kind.

For example, we can see a farmer’s character is kind and diligent in “Heungbu and Nolbu”. At the end of the story, the gentle younger brother has a happy ending and the evil older brother has to bear the consequence. Through the story, we could see Korean folklore praising the good and condemning evil.

Korean literature

Besides, Korean folklore also has fictional details rooted in religious origins or ancient customs. We can see that in”the woodcutter and the fairy”. The story is about a woodcutter who wants to marry a fairy so he stole a fairy’s clothes. After a while, they have two beautiful babies

Korean literature

In the folk poetry genre,There are four major traditional poetic forms: hyangga (“native songs”); byeolgok (“special songs”), or changga (“long poems”); sijo (“current melodies”); and gasa (“verses”). Korean poetry originally was meant to be sung, and its forms and styles reflect its melodic origins.

Hyangga was the first uniquely Korean form of poetry. Hyangga is known for ” Jemangmae-ga “(Lament for My Sister; 제망매가; 祭亡妹歌) is a hyangga written by a Buddhist monk named Wol-myeong(월명). Through this hyangga he mourns the death of his sister.

Korean literature

In the folk poetry genre, there are four major traditional poetic forms: hyangga (“native songs”); byeolgok (“special songs”), or changga (“long poems”); sijo (“current melodies”); and gasa (“verses”). Korean poetry originally was meant to be sung, and its forms and styles reflect its melodic origins.

Hyangga was the first uniquely Korean form of poetry. Hyangga is known for ” Jemangmae-ga “(Lament for My Sister; 제망매가; 祭亡妹歌) is a hyangga written by a Buddhist monk named Wol-myeong(월명). Through this hyangga he mourns the death of his sister.

Try out a world-class Translation service
FOR FREE!

logo ptranslate

2) Classic Korean Literature

During the Three Kingdoms and Unified Shila era (1st century BC-935 AD), they used kanji because of their interactions with the outside world. Goreoyo’s literature tends to be epic: the legend of King Tongmyong’s nation-building.

Paekche and Silla’s literature tends to be lyrical. After Shilla unified the three kingdoms, many students were sent to study abroad in the Tang Dynasty. The ‘hyanga’ genre is the leading genre in Shila literature and is written in ‘hyangchal’ script: Samguk yusa, Samdeamok are typical works of that time.

Korean literature

By the Goryeo period, the ‘hyangga’ genre was in decline, replaced by the explosion of byeolgok, a type of poetry of folk origin. Byeolgok poetry has two types: short stanza (tallyonche) and long stanza (yonjangche).

At the end of the dynasty that received the ideas of Confucius and Lao Tzu, Sijo was born, entered the Choson dynasty, and became a typical type of poetry. In addition, the appearance of the Hangul system – the alphabetic system created by King Sejong – the founder of this dynasty. This is a historical development in the history of Korean literature. Kasa is another type of poetry with a simple form, people consider Kasa and Sijo to be two great types of Korean poetry of the Choson period. 

Want to have your document translated?

logo ptranslate

pTranslate is a world-class translation and localization agency for businesses worldwide

Korean literature

Modern Korean Literature

Modern Korean literature is the result of resistance to the feudal social foundation that was melting under the Choson dynasty, the introduction of new ideas from the West, and Japanese political practice.

The first period of Korean literature was the Enlightenment period (kaehwa kyemong) with the literary genre of Shinsosol and Changga being warmly welcomed as the modern poetic form that played a major role in the development of Chayushi (later modern free verse).

This period is also a period of strong development of biographies, aimed at inculcating patriotism and national pride.

The modern literary movement started by Choe Namson and Yi Kwangsu in 1908 with the song “hae egeso pada ege” (from the sea to children) and in 1917 with the first modern Korean novel.

In 1919, translations by western poets such as Paul Verlaine, Rémy de Gourmont, and Stéphane Mallamé had a strong influence on Korean poetry. Modern Korean literature reached maturity in the 1930s thanks to the efforts of talented writers who freely drew European inspirations to enrich their art.

The first truly successful Korean poet was Chong Chiyong, the poet of the advancement of mental clarity and the harmony between nature and man. one of his most famous poems is Peangnoktam 1941 (The White Deer Lake)

The liberation of 1945 produced a variety of poetic forms. Some poets are determined to bear witness to the events of their time, some seek to assimilate traditional Korean values, while others draw upon different western traditions to enrich their works.

Covered in post-Korean War Korean novels is the division of the country, the 38 parallel tormenting the conscience of the fictional protagonist created in the 1950s, the alienation from himself and his world. 

Some try to capture images of people in lyrical prose. Others delve deeper into the conscience of the war-lost generation or the self-deception and depression of the shunned generation of the 1960s. Some studies fail and disintegrate the good people.  Others study the ways in which modern society denies freedom and individuality. 

During the last quarter of the 20th century, a series of talented writers perfected the art of being themselves, for example, the poet Hwang Tonggyu took material not only from his own experience but also from the general predicament of the Korean people, expressing things others knew but could not think of or could not say.

Novelist Yun Hŭnggil is another example of a writer who sees fiction as a tool to understand himself and others. For example, in Changma (1973; “The Rainy Spell”), Yun said that the ideological differences imposed by history on the Korean people can be overcome if they carefully study the indigenous traditions that have given them cohesion.

Conclusion

The above article helps us to have interesting and useful knowledge about Korean literature for those who love this country. We hope you enjoy this post and have more love for Korea

Feel free to share in the comment section your experience in creating a wonderful translation brief. Opinions and thoughts are welcome!

Become a True Global Leader

Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive the latest insights on Global Business 


pTranslate translation service global email marketing

About pTranslate

pTranslate is a translation and localization agency for businesses and individuals. We offer world-class language services at a competitive price and exceptional quality. Our goal is to eliminate the language barriers and connect the world.

Connect The World

Translate your documents, writings, books, and more!

Have any questions?

Discover Our Latest Posts

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments