Organized Panel Session
The present paper examines the two full-length novels that are arguably the most substantial components of the literary archive of Nak Chung Thun: The Tale of Hong Kyung Lai and its sequel whose title is unknown. Both works feature the historical figure of Hong Kyung Lai, the literati leader of the 1812 uprising in Pyŏngan Province. In a leap of fantasy, the second novel treats of Hong’s survival in China, following upon his historically documented defeat in the first novel, and his meeting with Hong Chung Lai, whose name implies that this young hero is an incarnation of the legendary rebel. Hong Chung Lai makes several unsuccessful attempts to reform, both by persuasion and by force, the government’s discrimination against the “Northerners,” the traditionally discriminated Pyŏngan people. As the analysis will show, Thun’s recounting of the uprising diverges interestingly from both the era’s historical records and the subsequent fictionalization of events by Korean writers. Thun’s more subversive, counterhegemonic retelling of the quashed rebellion, suffused with nostalgia and rich in ethnographic detail, is here tentatively linked not only to the writer’s identity as a Northerner but also to a diasporic condition that afforded him a sharper critical perspective on the Chosŏn dynasty.