The Tale Of Chunhyang:
The Song of Chunhyang, or 'Chunhyang ka' in Korean, is one of Korea's favorite folk tales. Koreans of all ages and professions will instantly recognize it, as a beautiful love story about a wife's constancy to her husband, and her characters as Korea's Romeo and Julie The oldest version of the tale was written in Chinese by Yu Chin Hahn in 1754, but it was told much earlier by bards, called 'kwangdae', roaming the Korean countryside, in a rhythmic chanted narrative which later became known as Pansori. Chunhyang is the daughter of a Kisaeng and an aristocrat (who in some versions has split for Seoul and in others he has died). This places her in a very precarious position. On the one hand, as a Kisaeng, she is the lowest of the low as far as Confucian thought goes, on the other hand her mother raised her as if she was an aristocrat's daughter. She taught her to observe the many virtues of a proper woman. On the first day of Spring, Tano day, Chunhyang goes out to play escorted by her valet. In the distance, Mongnyong sees her and instantly falls in love. He knows he must have her. Chunhyang and Mongnyong are both the tender age of 15, the same age as Romeo and Juliet. Mongnyong tried to court Chunhyang, though she obstinately rejects him, saying 'you are mistaken if you think I will just obey you. Although I am a kisaeng, I am also a proper woman!'Mongnyong changes his strategy. "I'll exchange poetry with her," he thinks. And so they beginto write each other. Soon Mongnyong goes to see Chunhyang's mother to ask for her hand in marriage.Chunhyang's mother comments that her daughter is a proper woman, and that she constantlywrites poetry suggesting her determination to remain faithful to her husband. But Mongnyong ispersistent in professing his pure and innocent love. Soon her mother gives the O.K., and theyare married, in secret of course. Soon after, Mongnyong's father receives a promotion to an office in Seoul, and the entire familymust...
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