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Play a Trick and Get a Queen: “Divine Tricksters” in Ancient Korea (and Beyond)

Play a Trick and Get a Queen: “Divine Tricksters” in Ancient Korea (and Beyond) The issue of trickster in old Korean literature has yet to be discussed in a broadly comparative way in a scientific context. Using a structuralist approach, this article addresses the anthropological theme of the “divine trickster” in some stories from ancient Korea and the ancient West. In particular, by examining three famous episodes from Korean folklore alongside three cases from Western fantastic literature, this article investigates the strategies aimed at acquiring the feminine element as represented by high-ranking foreign women. Starting with the hunting mentality of prehistoric society, where man tries to prevail with intelligence over his prey, the article reviews literary episodes from different anthropological contexts (Indo-European societies, Semitic societies of the Near East, and ancient Korean society), underlining their similarities and differences, but always highlighting and emphasizing the presence of a divine trickster. Ultimately, together with the common denominator of the progressive masculinization of the various societies, we note a more passive role of women in the Korean stories, which appear to be of more recent codification than their Western counterparts, and therefore seem more inspired by cultural patterns of patriarchal orientation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies Duke University Press

Play a Trick and Get a Queen: “Divine Tricksters” in Ancient Korea (and Beyond)

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Copyright
Copyright © 2021 Maurizio Riotto
ISSN
1598-2661
eISSN
2586-0380
DOI
10.1215/15982661-9326199
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The issue of trickster in old Korean literature has yet to be discussed in a broadly comparative way in a scientific context. Using a structuralist approach, this article addresses the anthropological theme of the “divine trickster” in some stories from ancient Korea and the ancient West. In particular, by examining three famous episodes from Korean folklore alongside three cases from Western fantastic literature, this article investigates the strategies aimed at acquiring the feminine element as represented by high-ranking foreign women. Starting with the hunting mentality of prehistoric society, where man tries to prevail with intelligence over his prey, the article reviews literary episodes from different anthropological contexts (Indo-European societies, Semitic societies of the Near East, and ancient Korean society), underlining their similarities and differences, but always highlighting and emphasizing the presence of a divine trickster. Ultimately, together with the common denominator of the progressive masculinization of the various societies, we note a more passive role of women in the Korean stories, which appear to be of more recent codification than their Western counterparts, and therefore seem more inspired by cultural patterns of patriarchal orientation.

Journal

Sungkyun Journal of East Asian StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2021

References