The Possibility of Literary Communication through Comparison of South and North Korean Tales: With focus on My Own Fortune of South Korea and Father and the Three Daughters of North Korea

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S/N Korean Humanities Vol.2 No.2 pp.37-54 ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)

Nam Kyung-Woo
Institute of Humanities for Unification, Konkuk University

Received June 30 2016; Revised version received July 31 2016; Accepted August 15 2016


My Own Fortune is a popular folktale which is widely observed and documented throughout the Korean Peninsula before the division. The tale continues to be told from generations to generations in South Korea. A resembling tale can be found in The Collection of Chosun Folktales under the title Father and the Three Daughters. This tale’s format very closely resembles that of My Own Fortune, hence making it a valuable material when comparing tales in South and North Korea. My Own Fortune and Father and the Three Daughters both begin with a very similar narrative. The father in both tales asks a question “On whose fortune do you live well?” wishing to confirm that his daughters love him and respect his authority as the leader of the family. The two stories begin to differ as his third and the youngest daughter in each story answers his question identically but with different intentions. From this point in the story the two tales diverge. My Own Fortune is a story of an independent woman standing alone from her parents and building her own success, whereas Father and the Three Daughters is about a very filial woman achieving her dream when her father eventually acknowledges her love of the Parent. North Korea’s Father and the Three Daughters focus on the value of family and offspring’s filial duty. In contrast, My Own Fortune depicts an independent woman. Despite the difference, the two tales follow same story format, as Father and the Three Daughters adopted the format of My Own Fortune, which is one of the traditional folk tale formats in Korea. North Korea regime probably did adopt the format of My Own Fortune for Father and the Three Daughters because inhabitants in the Korean Peninsula have long enjoyed the stories of the like of My Own Fortune. For the regime to utilize Father and the Three Daughters as means to reform people, the regime would probably have thought that adopting popular and widely accepted stories would be more beneficial. It is probable that Father and the Three Daughters is derived from My Own Fortune, the story generally enjoyed by Koreans before the division. Findings of common folktales culture in South and North Korea, despite the two nations` long separation, suggest that literary communication between the countries, based on common grounds, is possible. But for such communication to happen, understanding of both the common and the different must be preceded. Communication can be defined as the steps of admitting and attempting to understand the difference between the parties. It is because changeability of the relationship based on differences may be the most accurate solution to soften current relationship of two Koreas which is solidifying its exclusivity and hostility. The author wishes that his analysis of My Own Fortune and Father and the Three Daughters to be a humble work to contribute to such communication that embraces both the common and the different.

Key Words : Story literature, North Korean folktale, My Own Fortune, differences, communication

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