As the political, economic, and cultural center of Chosŏn Korea, eighteenth-century Seoul epitomized a society in flux: It was a bustling, worldly metropolis into which things and people from all over the country flowed. In this book, Si Nae Park examines how the culture of Chosŏn Seoul gave rise to a new vernacular narrative form that was evocative of the spoken and written Korean language of the time.
The vernacular story (yadam) flourished in the 19th century as anonymously and unofficially circulating tales by and for Chosŏn people. The Korean Vernacular Story focuses on the formative role that the collection Repeatedly Recited Stories of the East (Tongp’ae naksong) played in shaping yadam, analyzing the collection’s language and composition and tracing its reception and circulation.
The first book in English on the origins of yadam, The Korean Vernacular Story combines historical insight, textual studies, and the history of the book. By highlighting the role of negotiation with Literary Sinitic and sinographic writing, it challenges the script (han’gŭl)-focused understanding of Korean language and literature.