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  • The Story of Hong Gildong(Pilsa 89 Version)
  • Minsoo Kang (bio)

In the time of the ascension of King Seonjong 1 the Great to the throne of Joseon,2 there lived a state minister in the city of Jangan3 whose family name was Hong and whose personal name was mo.4 His progenitors had attained lofty positions in the [End Page 229] royal court and had maintained great wealth for generations, so they were renowned throughout the country for their illustrious nobility. He passed the civil service examinations 5 at a young age and reached the position of high minister 6 in the government where his reputation for integrity and moral courage earned him the special favor of the king. He had a son named Inhyeon who also passed the examinations early and gained the rank of assistant [End Page 230] section chief 7 at the Ministry of Personnel.8 He too received the attention of his sovereign.

On a warm spring day, the minister was suddenly overcome by fatigue and fell into a dream. He found himself in a place where verdant mountains lay in multiple folds, fresh waters flowed gently, and willow branches were arrayed like so many canopies of green. In the midst of the fairest panorama, golden songbirds calling for their mates evoked the pleasures of spring. Awed by the grandeur of the scenery, the minister strolled through the land until the path he walked on ended at a rocky cliff that rose up to pierce the sky. A waterfall that descended from a great height looked like a white dragon at play, and the mountain’s stone wall of ten thousand jang9 was covered in many-colored clouds. Filled with pleasure at finding himself in such a marvelous world, the minister sat on a rock to fully appreciate the beauty all around him. Suddenly, deafening explosions of thunder shook heaven and earth, the waters rose up in tumultuous eruptions, and a fierce tempest blew through the land. A blue dragon appeared, shaking its beard, glaring with its frightful eyes, and opening wide its red mouth, as it rushed at the minister to hunt him down. Taking great fright, he tried to flee from the creature but it quickly enveloped him. He woke up then and realized that it had all been a dream. [End Page 231]

The minister felt a great joy in his heart,10 so he immediately entered the inner chamber 11 of his house where his wife stood up to greet him. With a joyful expression on his face, he led her to a resting place in the room. There he took her exquisite hands and made apparent his intention to become one with her in a decorous manner. But his wife’s delicate features turned serious as she addressed him.

“Your Lordship is a person of high position in the world and no longer a young man of excessive vitality. So why are you acting like a licentious youth in broad daylight and in view of maids who spy upon this chamber? For the sake of your dignity, I will not comply with your desire.”

She withdrew her hands, opened the chamber’s door, and walked out. The minister felt embarrassed by the situation and thought to explain his behavior by informing her of the dream. But he resisted the urge as he felt that it was wrong to divulge a secret vision Heaven had granted him. Unable to allay his frustration, he went to the outer chamber with an upset demeanor as he lamented his wife’s lack of understanding. It was then that a maid named Chunseom entered the room to serve him tea. After the minister took his drink, he saw that all was quiet in the household, so he grasped Chunseom’s hand and led her into a side chamber where he had intercourse with her. She was a girl of nineteen years at the time. Although she was only a servant girl, she had a gentle nature and her demeanor and actions were always as proper as those of a respectable maiden. She may have been lowborn but there was nothing lowly about her...


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pp. 229-322
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