A Study on North Korean Narratives of Ancient Fictions in the 1950s

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S/N Korean Humanities Vol.10 No.1 pp.17-40 ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)

Feng Yingdun
Pingdingshan University

Received December 30, 2021; Revised version received January 30, 2022; Accepted February 10, 2022


In the mid-1950s, North Korea’s socialist construction efforts were carried out across the entire society. Even in the field of classical literature, the history of classical novels was written from a Marxist-Leninist perspective to educate the masses. Yi Ŭng-su and Kim Ha-myŏng made the first attempt to write the North Korean history of ancient novels in the 1950s using a Marxist-Leninist methodology, which was based on their research on the history of ancient novels in the predivision period. In 1959, under the influence of the Chollima Movement, the first collectively written book of literary history, Chosŏn munhak t’ongsa [The complete history of Korean literature], was published by the Literature Research Center of the Institute of Language and Literature, Academy of Sciences of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Therefore, the North Korean narrative about classical novels in the 1950s took two forms. Compared to what had been written by Yi Ŭng-su and Kim Ha-myŏng in the mid-1950s, the part of The Complete History of Korean Literature devoted to classic literary history was more detailed and added more critical logic, such as humanitarianism. The North Korean history of ancient novels in the 1950s is different from the South Korean version of the same period, and it is also different from the North Korean history of ancient novels after the establishment of the Juche Literary Theory. In other words, the North Korean history of ancient novels in the 1950s can be seen as having a unique transitional character amid a period in which the North Korean system was being established.

Key Words : history of ancient novels, socialist realism, humanitarianism, Marxism-Leninism, Juche Literary Theory

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