Unyŏng-jŏn: A Love Affair at the Royal Palace of Chosŏn Korea

Book Cover


Kil Cha and Michael J. Pettid, trans.
Introduction and Annotations: Michael J. Pettid
Korea Research Monograph 33
2009. 135 pp.
ISBN 1-55729-093-8

This early-seventeenth-century novel follows the winding path of a secret love affair and the difficulties the court lady and the poet-scholar encounter in attempting to realize their romantic dreams. According to Pettid, "The novel holds all the elements needed for a truly captivating story: love, treachery, heartbreak, danger, and friendship." It is also an excellent character study of divergent personalities ranging from a rival to the throne to a lowly slave. Unyŏng-jŏn is especially noteworthy for its female narrative voice, which made the novel very popular among women of the time and has prompted many to ask whether the anonymous author was, in fact, a woman. Pettid addresses this question and others in his introduction and analysis that aid the modern English-speaking reader in understanding the work.

Michael J. Pettid is an associate professor of Korean and Korean Literature at Binghamton University (SUNY) in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies and a former postdoctoral scholar at Berkeley.


Acknowledgments – vii

1. Introduction – 1

2. Historical Backdrop – 6

3. Unyŏng-jŏn: An Analysis of a Seventeenth-century Novel – 26

4. Chosŏn Society as Revealed in Unyŏng-jŏn – 57

5. Unyŏng-jŏn: The Translation – 64

Character Glossary – 113

Bibliography – 120

Index – 128

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