Wars have long been important literary subjects. The war depicted in this work dealt with the historical transition of Korea in terms of its significant and overall influence on politics, economics, and culture. War experiences have been major literary topics throughout pre-modern and modern Korean literature. The Sword-monk Story, written by Shin Kwang-soo (1712–1775) is a work of war literature that deals with reminiscences by two Japanese survivors of a defeated army that had participated in the Japanese invasion of Korea from 1592–1598. The work describes the humane relationship between a Korean sword-monk and two Japanese soldiers who once fought against the monk in the war. The characters attempt to overcome hostility, establish amity, and reach peaceful harmony. Despite their attempts, however, they fail to overcome all of their conflicts, and the residual conflicts lead to a tragic result in the end. The writer, Shin, describes how war can destroy people’s lives and their divine character as well. Shin tells of the Korean sword master who makes an attempt to establish mutual understanding beyond national barriers between himself and the Japanese soldiers, who agree to serve him as master and live humane lives. The story can be understood as a significant work of war literature in that mutual understanding and humane affection are depicted as ways of overcoming the calamity of war and moving forward to a better future.


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pp. 5-33
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