Depth Study of Korean Short Stories

Depth Study/Case Study Introduction This assessment comprises a depth study of a particular genre of Asian literature or a case study of a particular artist. It is a research assignment designed to develop a comprehensive understanding of the selected aspect or aspects of interest/relevance to you and your teaching. The study should be approximately 2500 3000 words in total.


The literature has always taken a part in the rich culture of Korea. The history of the country is highly represented in literature. On this literature has always been a representation of the history. According to a book written by one of author in Korea Kim Hunggyu, there are more than six thousands of writing by the individual authors from back 13th Century to the 19th Century (Cheung, 1997). Nonetheless, according to per capita internationally in terms of the short stories publications Korea is number one. The massive production of the literacy has occurred despite the emergence of the Koreans literacy as seen just as object to the formal study, it commenced only recently, and it had begun back in the post-World War 2 (Cheung, 1997). The short stories in Korea have always been regarded as the mark for the sophistication. Yang ban class and most of the five Century by the Josen Dynasty once only wrote the classics of the short stories, which is Chinese. At that, time for an individual to be an author they had to be educated and they had possession of time and the leisure to write. At the time, which was regarded as Korea classical period, they tended only to production of the abstract, philosophical and the didactic work. Besides, modern times have also followed the lead of classical (Goulden, 1983). The writers had to undergo a process to vet them before they are crowned as an author. The Literature was seen on the modern era when Japan colonized Korea, and at the time the respond was turning pastoral, hence it was a question of what had to be done (Kim, 1997). Individuals like Yi Kwang-su created the short stories literature between 1892 and 1950. Throughout the period of the colonial around the 1910 to 1945, the Korean stories were featured as either escapist or they direly on the politics, and prescriptionist (Barone & Eisner, 1997). There are modern short stories from Korea book of which was initially publish in the 1958 that comprises of around twenty short stories some of the stories were ‘The flame’ written by Sunwu Hwi, the Camellias by Kim Yu, Wing written by Yi Sang, the portrait of Shaman written by Kim Tong. On this paper, it will highlight a depth study of the short stories in Korea showing the chronological and the cultural context.

History of the origin of short stories

The origin of the short stories can be traced back to an Old Stone Age art that had combined the use of the dance, the music and the literature (Park, 2006).  This form of the art served as the political function to unify the society, the religious function to identify and describe the capability of the supernatural powers that was capable to avert the calamity of the earth. The stories also served as economic function to inspire productive activities. On the stories, they reflected on the historical period in which a lot was changing (Chang &Halliday, 2005). The Korea literature is essentially the body that was produced by the Koreans and the stories were written in Korean language and some in the classical Chinese (Kim, Kim & Yu, 1997). More than 1500 literacy history of Korea was written in Hanja. Although Korea had their own language for several thousands of years ago, they had a system of writing since the mid of the fifteen Century when Hangul was invented. Because of this aspect, most of the early literacy activity used the Chinese characters (Ehrhart & Jason, 1999). The scholars at the time were writing the short stories in the traditional manner classical Chinese. There was an establishment of the Unified Silla dynasty and every educated person in Korea had to read the Confucian classics and the history of the Chinese and their literature (Schratz, 1988). The short stories are usually divided into the classical and the modern period. Nonetheless, there were many reforms after the mid of the nineteen century that had swept Korea and the society activity absorbed the western things (Lee, 2003). The development of these stories came from the traditional belief of the Korean people. Taoism and the Buddhism greatly influenced this. Nonetheless, Buddhist held the greatest sway of them all (Kim, 1997). The literature of the short stories was at the time written in Chinese and some on Hangul. These two differ greatly from in terms of the literacy and character. Some of the stories written in Chinese was from the result when some Chinese character came to Korea. At the time, there was use of the Chinese character since it was the only invention of the language (Zong, 1982). The Chinese also are the ones that centered the ideas and the value that was contained in the literature. This feature was also shared among the East Asia at the time. These Chinese had the experience and patterns that are well thought; they expressed unique way towards the life of Korean people  (Zong, 1982). It was latter that the Korean script began during the period of formulating of the alphabet of the Korean’s. The formulation of the alphabet at the 15th century was the turning point towards literacy of the Korean history. It was at that period where the author to write on the short stories came (Hanan, 1973). The script of the Korean made it possible at the time to broaden on the literacy field and there was expansion of the social base of the writers to be able to be creative to write the short stories (Zong, 1982).

The transaction and development of the short stories over time

The short stories were majorly written during period of crumbling of the society that was feudalistic from Choson Dynasty  (Cheung, 1997). During that, time there was importation of new ideas more so from the west, and the new dawn of politics was a reality from the Japanese rising imperial power at the East Asia.  The first establishment of the modern short stories extend from the mid of the nineteen century to the early period of the twentieth century (Cheung, 1997).  The transaction of using the traditional ways of writing these stories to the modern ways was largely because of effects of the education that was introduced into the Korean language and on the movement of the literature itself (Goulden, 1983). There was a new brand of education that was enforced after the reforms of Kabo of the 1894 and there was establishment of the western style of the education. During the transactional period there were also emergency of many stories that were based on the enlightenment of the tastes, which were designed to cultivate on the patriotism and the awakening of the national consciousness (Goulden, 1983). Some of the stories have highlighted on the images of the king of the hero and the realities of the period (Axelsson, 1990). One such story was the Kuk-sons, which centers on the orations of the animals who criticize on the world of the human -that is morally depurative (Goulden, 1983).

The first person on writing short stories in Korea

One of the first author of the short stories in Korea was Hwang Sun-Won who was born while the Korea was under the rule of the Japanese colonial in the Taedong, the southern Pyongan, in the modern day of Korea  (Cheung, 1997). He made on his literacy debut as a student in the middle school with some of his publication like the ‘Fear Not, My son’. He graduated from the University of the Waseda in Japan with a degree in English. He was the founder of a theater group regarded as the Tokyo Students Group for the Arts. The first story that he publish was in the year 1937 and has continued to write through the 80s at the time of his long career of literacy. Hwang observed the long-suffering of the ordinary Korea people under the different circumstances of the oppression, the colonialism, the Korean War and dictatorships from the military (Kim, 1997). The essence of his writing was to capture on the resilience of the spirit of the Korean people at that time when the adversity and the recovery of the love and the goodwill of those circumstances. His main achievement was on the short stories he wrote and the writing were regarded as the premiere genre to the literacy throughout the period of 20th century in Korea (Park, 2006). He was also noted in the early years of his career for the refusal to write in Japanese. Today he has been regarded as the best author of the short stories in the modern literacy in Korea canon (Cuddon, 2012).

In depth understanding the short stories

The short stories from the Korea they are interesting to read since they illustrate on the Korean literature that was seldom translated back in the year 1958. The stories had emerged more so from the collections that was done by PEN with their references at the time (Park, 2006). The representation of these stories were based on two aspects. The works that were chosen were all pastoral in that they were intended to explain on the literature in Korea.  The second aspect that was on the focus was on the topics that were of interest in culture of Korea, and a little interest to the rest of the world. On this aspect, many of the work was subjected to vetting to show only the Korean literature that reflected on the problems of political instability in the country (Kim, 1997).

The Korean short stories focus on the various issue that were affecting the society some of the stories are about marriage and love, and the rest of them are characterized by the aspect of the social stories. Nonetheless, most of these stories demonstrated an in depth and the lack of didacticism that would vanish from the stories that are translated from Korean (Zong, 1982). The stories that tells about social events focus more on the social issue that were from the post-Josen and the colonial period. Moreover, the stories are majorly pegged onto the need of narrating a good story with the characters that understand the culture (Damrosch, 2006). One such author is When the Moon Rises written by an author Gim Song. The story is marred by a shallow representation of the aspect of virtuous and therefor chaste for the women. The stories that articulate romance are, ‘‘The Soil’’ by Yi Gwang-Su and ‘A bad night’ by Gim Gwang-Zu. The social short stories they run a wide gamut, from the end of the era of imperial to the life of the captivity. (Zong, 1982)Such example is the Death of Yun  (Cheung, 1997) . There is a short meditation focusing the determination of a married woman, her weakened man, and the machination of an empire that is dying. There were also stories that focused on the traditional social structure and the effects they had on the individual themselves. One such story is ‘A mother and her son’ written by Gim Dong of which highlight a story that is sad in nature of a woman who is cursed with sons who do not respect their elders, and thus, she is ushered between the sons on her declining years (Kim, 1997). Another is ‘The Pack Horse’ written by Gye Yong and the narrator of the story is a horse driver who stammers and the unfortunate trust of the nature. It also explores on the traditional relationship that of a homeowner how they treat their servant. Another is the ‘Memorial service on the Mountain’ by the writer Choe Zong that explores on the horrific proposition that to be imprisoned is better than a marriage that is arranged. On these stories, they clearly reflect on the social aspect of the Korean lives (Goulden, 1983). The stories narrated on the events that were happening during the post-world war era. They demonstrate on the morale dilemma of the society and they touch on the cultural aspects of the people. The sole purpose of the stories were meant to teach, highlighted, and educated the Korea people on the best practices to undertake and enriched them on their culture. The Korea stories are relevant to the social fissures of the Korean and the reception of the audience from them have continued to gain the merits on consideration. Nonetheless, if the focus is only on the way the regime wishes fiction be interpreted, then there is a risk of taking away the aspect of monolithic solidarity on the face value (Lee, 2003). The collection of the short stories that are written under the pseudonym would soon become an international literacy of the sensation of the world (Kim, 1997).

The stories have also focused on the domestic issues and how the Korean War happened. One extemporal that stand out is ‘The story of John’ by Chang Yong (Chang &Halliday, 2005). The story tries to bring the chronicle events of a man’s life and there is a great natural imaginary to shift on the various phases of life. The aspect of these short stories is to narrate on the issues of the domestic, the colonial era, the dictatorship, love and the marriages to the people of Korea (Kim, 1997). They were also intended to give hope to the people especially after the colonial era from the hands of Japanese. The aspect of the culture has also been clearly demonstrated on the short stories of the various author as they indicate on the values of the Korean people (Kim, Kim & Yu, 1997). Nonetheless, the literature of the short stories have been developed over time and there were many challenges during the transaction process of the new era in Korea (Goulden, 1983). Some of them was the formulation of the alphabet especially at the time there was use of the Chinese system as was the period of colonialism. Many of the writers of Korea were forced to adopt this system and write their stories based in this language, which proved to be difficult to them (Lee, 2003).


The short stories narration have enriched on the Korean culture and many people in the world have been able to know about it. The history of the country has been elaborated clearly on these stories from the era of the colonialism to the attainment of their independence. The paper has clearly highlighted on the chorological events or the circumstances that unfolded from the inception of the writing of the short stories that were classified as the traditional genre of literature. Most of the stories have touched on the culture, the dictatorship, war, and the struggle the Korean people underwent on the hands of the colonialist. The paper, has also analyzed when the short stories started and the development over the period. There was also a need to look at the first person to write these short stories and look at in depth of the other stories by other writers of the short stories. The diverse literature has enabled many people including those from Korea to discover the culture of this great country and those wishing to learn on the mind and the soul of these people can learn from the stories. Nonetheless, the aspect of the short stories in Korea is a significant work of the great authors who complied by the events at the time wrote to tell their stories to the future generation of this great transactional history. What a better way to do it than from the character narrative of the short stories. 


Axelsson, A. (1990). Restrained response: American novels of the cold war and Korea, 1945- 1962 (No. 97). Greenwood Publishing Group. 

Barone, T., & Eisner, E. (1997). Arts-based educational research. Complementary methods for research in education, 2, 75-116. 

Chang, J., & Halliday, J. (2005). Mao: the unknown story (Vol. 39). London. 

Cheung, K. K. (1997). An interethnic companion to Asian American literature . Cambridge University Press.

Cuddon, J. A. (2012). Dictionary of literary terms and literary theory. John Wiley & Sons. 

Damrosch, D. (2006). World literature in a postcanonical, hypercanonical age. Comparative literature in an age of globalization, 43-53. 

Ehrhart, W. D., & Jason, P. K. (1999). Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War.

Goulden, J. C. (1983). Korea the untold story of the war. McGraw-Hill Companies.

Hanan, P. (1973). The Chinese short story: Studies in dating, authorship, and composition (Vol.  

Harrison, S. (2011). Adaptations: from short story to big screen: 35 great stories that have inspired great films. Crown Archetype. 

Jager, S. M. (2003). Narratives of nation building in Korea: A genealogy of patriotism.

Kim, E. H. (1997). Korean American Literature. An interethnic companion to Asian American literature, 156-91.

Kim, K. E., Kim, E. H & Yu, E. Y. (1997). East to America: Korean American Life Stories.

Kim, S. U. (1955). The story bag: a collection of Korean folk tales. Tuttle Publishing. 

Lee, P. H. (2003). A history of Korean literature. Cambridge University Press.

Park, S. (2006). The colonial Origin of Korean Realism and Its Contemporary Manifestation positions. east asia cultures critique, 14(1), 165-192.

Schratz, P. R. (1988). Submarine Commander: A Story of World War II and Korea. University Press of Kentucky. 

Zong, I. S. (1982). A guide to Korean literature. Holy international Corp., 1983.

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