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Dilemma of the Lovesick Hero: Masculine Images and Politics of the Body in Seventeenth-Century Korean Love Tales

Dilemma of the Lovesick Hero: Masculine Images and Politics of the Body in Seventeenth-Century... This article explores the masculine images and ideals produced by the love tales of seventeenth-century Korea. Although male characters were undoubtedly represented as vulnerable and passive characters, they were also offered opportunities to represent passionate love. Particularly, the exploration focuses on the configurations of lovesick men with a close reading of Unyŏng chŏn (The tale of Unyŏng) and Sangsa-dong ki (The tale of Sangsa-dong), which provide a model of romance fiction while at the same time exposing desire as it is regulated and expressed through Confucian ideology. At the center of the discussion is the question of the possible political effects of male characters’ romantic experience of “being lovesick”—what does male lovesickness represent, and how do the characters manage to negotiate with cultural norms while reproducing the significance of the male body? I examine the dilemma of male characters pursuing their romantic goals of love and marriage under the frame of lovesickness. Within the confines of Confucian society, which limited relations between men and women, rather than perceiving characters involved in romance as mere victims of love within an oppressive culture, this study reveals the complex negotiations between mind and body, morals and sexual desire, and gender ideals and romantic love. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Korean Studies Duke University Press

Dilemma of the Lovesick Hero: Masculine Images and Politics of the Body in Seventeenth-Century Korean Love Tales

Journal of Korean Studies , Volume 21 (1) – Mar 16, 2016

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Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
ISSN
0731-1613
eISSN
2158-1665
DOI
10.1353/jks.2016.0001
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the masculine images and ideals produced by the love tales of seventeenth-century Korea. Although male characters were undoubtedly represented as vulnerable and passive characters, they were also offered opportunities to represent passionate love. Particularly, the exploration focuses on the configurations of lovesick men with a close reading of Unyŏng chŏn (The tale of Unyŏng) and Sangsa-dong ki (The tale of Sangsa-dong), which provide a model of romance fiction while at the same time exposing desire as it is regulated and expressed through Confucian ideology. At the center of the discussion is the question of the possible political effects of male characters’ romantic experience of “being lovesick”—what does male lovesickness represent, and how do the characters manage to negotiate with cultural norms while reproducing the significance of the male body? I examine the dilemma of male characters pursuing their romantic goals of love and marriage under the frame of lovesickness. Within the confines of Confucian society, which limited relations between men and women, rather than perceiving characters involved in romance as mere victims of love within an oppressive culture, this study reveals the complex negotiations between mind and body, morals and sexual desire, and gender ideals and romantic love.

Journal

Journal of Korean StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Mar 16, 2016

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