Bang Hak-jung(方学中)

Bang Hak-jung

Headword

방학중 ( 方学中 , Bang Hak-jung )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

This legend narrates the story of Bang Hak-jung, a quick-witted servant of Yeongdeok, North Gyeongsang Province, and his tricks and pranks.

Bang Hak-jung is believed to have been a real- life character from late 19th-century Joseon who lived in Yeongdeok, which is said to be the home of his descendents and his tomb, but the only known information about Bang is the stories of the tricks he performed on his master.

Bang is a typical sly servant character, who engages in taking food from his master’s table to eat or sell; tricking a woman pounding sticky rice to steal rice cake; getting himself tied up inside a sack to be thrown in the water then tricking someone to change places, making him die on his behalf; rewriting his master’s letter to marry the master’s daughter; and making his master’s family drown in the water.

Among the many variations is the tale“ Hadeonbangseok (Done Pillow). ”Bang Hak-jung is following a group of scholars to Seoul, during which the scholars, in an attempt to leave Bang behind, offers that they will take him on the road if he succeeds in sleeping with a woman who is working in the field. Bang goes to the woman and pointing to a pair of scissors and a pillow, tells her that in the village where he is from, scissors are called “ ssipssigae (fucker), ”and a pillow“ hadeonbangseok (done pillow), ”then he hid the scissors under the pillow before returning to his group. While working, the woman looks for the scissors and calls out to Bang, asking where is the ssipssigae, to which Bang replies that it is under“ hadeonbangseok, ”deceiving the scholars into believing that Bang had“ done ”it with the woman.

Another variation involves revenge taken on someone who refuses Bang’s request for a favor. Bang meets a tobacco vendor on his way to the market and asks him for some tobacco but the vender will not give him any. Determined to teach the vendor a lesson, Bang hurries ahead of him and coming across a field where people were working, kisses one of the women there then calls out to the tobacco vendor behind him, “ Brother, come along quick, ”before running away. The men working with the woman, thinking the vendor is Bang’s family, beats up the vendor and takes all of his tobacco.

Bang is a character who plays tricks not only on his master but on anyone, regardless of gender, age or status. The tales started out focusing on his relationship with his maser, but over time Bang’s targets began to include lowly people like himself, going as far as to cause another person’s death in the course of Bang securing his own survival. Many tales also involve sexual harassment of women, breaking the taboos of Joseon’s society where women were not even permitted to be in the presence of men. These acts characterize Bang as a trickster, who traverses the boundaries of rules, customs or perception. “ Tale of Eo Bok-son, ”included in the anthology Sindangongan (Crimes Solved by Ghostly Forces), is about a similar character of a different name, and provides a glimpse into how the society responded at the time to trisksters. The protagonist of the story succeeds in drowning his master and his family, after which he suffers from nightmares and an illness, and in the end guilt drives him to confess his crime and face execution.

In concluson, Bang Hak-jung can be defined as a character who offers a new perspective on the world by attacking not only the privileged class but the prejudices that live in all of us.

Bang Hak-jung

Bang Hak-jung
Headword

방학중 ( 方学中 , Bang Hak-jung )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer NaSooho(那秀昊)

This legend narrates the story of Bang Hak-jung, a quick-witted servant of Yeongdeok, North Gyeongsang Province, and his tricks and pranks.

Bang Hak-jung is believed to have been a real- life character from late 19th-century Joseon who lived in Yeongdeok, which is said to be the home of his descendents and his tomb, but the only known information about Bang is the stories of the tricks he performed on his master.

Bang is a typical sly servant character, who engages in taking food from his master’s table to eat or sell; tricking a woman pounding sticky rice to steal rice cake; getting himself tied up inside a sack to be thrown in the water then tricking someone to change places, making him die on his behalf; rewriting his master’s letter to marry the master’s daughter; and making his master’s family drown in the water.

Among the many variations is the tale“ Hadeonbangseok (Done Pillow). ”Bang Hak-jung is following a group of scholars to Seoul, during which the scholars, in an attempt to leave Bang behind, offers that they will take him on the road if he succeeds in sleeping with a woman who is working in the field. Bang goes to the woman and pointing to a pair of scissors and a pillow, tells her that in the village where he is from, scissors are called “ ssipssigae (fucker), ”and a pillow“ hadeonbangseok (done pillow), ”then he hid the scissors under the pillow before returning to his group. While working, the woman looks for the scissors and calls out to Bang, asking where is the ssipssigae, to which Bang replies that it is under“ hadeonbangseok, ”deceiving the scholars into believing that Bang had“ done ”it with the woman.

Another variation involves revenge taken on someone who refuses Bang’s request for a favor. Bang meets a tobacco vendor on his way to the market and asks him for some tobacco but the vender will not give him any. Determined to teach the vendor a lesson, Bang hurries ahead of him and coming across a field where people were working, kisses one of the women there then calls out to the tobacco vendor behind him, “ Brother, come along quick, ”before running away. The men working with the woman, thinking the vendor is Bang’s family, beats up the vendor and takes all of his tobacco.

Bang is a character who plays tricks not only on his master but on anyone, regardless of gender, age or status. The tales started out focusing on his relationship with his maser, but over time Bang’s targets began to include lowly people like himself, going as far as to cause another person’s death in the course of Bang securing his own survival. Many tales also involve sexual harassment of women, breaking the taboos of Joseon’s society where women were not even permitted to be in the presence of men. These acts characterize Bang as a trickster, who traverses the boundaries of rules, customs or perception. “ Tale of Eo Bok-son, ”included in the anthology Sindangongan (Crimes Solved by Ghostly Forces), is about a similar character of a different name, and provides a glimpse into how the society responded at the time to trisksters. The protagonist of the story succeeds in drowning his master and his family, after which he suffers from nightmares and an illness, and in the end guilt drives him to confess his crime and face execution.

In concluson, Bang Hak-jung can be defined as a character who offers a new perspective on the world by attacking not only the privileged class but the prejudices that live in all of us.