Synopses & Reviews
Fiction. Northeast Asia Studies. Homer B. Hulbert and James S. Gale, two of the most famous North American missionaries to come to Korea in the 1880s, were very fond of ghost stories, but for years the Korean scholars they met swore that no such stories existed in Korea. Eventually, they discovered that Korea, too, had a plentiful supply of ghosts and spirits, celebrated in many eerie tales. However, because the stories had seemed too frivolous or were connected with shamanism and Buddhism, the scholars had been ashamed to talk about them.
A main source of these stories were collections of yadam. These were a form of short tale, especially popular in the Joseon period. Whereas Confucian classics were the gateway to officialdom, yadam offered an escape valve, dealing with things much closer to daily life. The stories told there were about individuals who were not always admirable paragons of Confucian virtue; rather, they were often artful dodgers who managed to escape from tricky situations; survive traps; deal with ghosts, spirits, and nine-tailed foxes; and even get rich in the process.
As we celebrate the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Hulbert and Gale, the present selection of Korean ghost stories—nostalgic for their echoes of the lost world of old Korea and its many ghosts—is offered for the pleasure of readers in the twenty-first century, one hundred years after their original publication.
About the Author
Brother Anthony of Taizé has lived in Korea since 1980. He is emeritus professor at Sogang University and professor at Dankook University. He has published over twenty volumes of translations of Korean poetry and fiction, including seven of work by Ko Un. He is the author of EERIE TALE FROM OLD KOREA (Seoul Selection, 2013).