Tale of Eccentrics(奇人故事)

Tale of Eccentrics

Headword

기인담 ( 奇人故事 , Giindam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NoYounggeun(盧暎根)

Giindam, or tales of eccentrics, depict characters that demonstrate traits and actions that are different from ordinary people.

Tales of eccentrics can be categorized into those that explain the origin of the eccentrics, and those that depict their deeds.

The eccentrics’ origins are usually explained through their appearance. Han Myeong-hoe was born only seven months into the pregnancy, his body not yet fully formed, and when his family did not want to raise him, an old maidservant wrapped him with quilted clothing for protection. The baby began to grow after a few days and there were black warts on his belly and back, in the pattern of constellations (Gimunchonghwa, Assorted Collection of Tales Read and Heard). Eo Jung-ik was a state official during the reign of King Taejo of Goryeo, who was born with unusual body hair and scales under his arms. His surname was Ji, but Taejo bestowed the surname Eo, meaning “fish” (Gyeseoyadam, Tales from Gyeseo). Yi Tak was born with the appearance of a dragon. He was left covered with a blanket and soon he turned into a child (Gimunchonghwa).

Tales that narrate the deeds of eccentrics mostly focus on those who did not enter public service, and were thus unbound by the secular social order. Sin Man was capable of knowing a person’s fate after seeing his face or hearing his voice just once. Sin found academic pursuit ridiculous, but he was friends with the Confucian scholar Song Si-yeol, and one day he asked Song to give him lessons. After several days of discussions on the Confucian discipline with Song, Sin laid back, stretching his legs with a yawn, and jeered that Confucianism is like a dog’s bony legs (Maeonghallok, Maeong’s Tales for Idle Times). Geomancer Yi Ji-ham visited scholar Yi I one day, wearing a ceramic conical hat (sakkat) and a long straw rope tied around his waist. When Yi I asked about his attire, Yi Ji-ham answered that he became epileptic after sleeping next to a chilly wall in a drafty room, and no medicine would cure him, so he meditated in a temple in the mountains in this attire, which cured him of the illness (Dongpaenaksong, Tales of the Eastern Kingdom for Repeated Recitation).

These tales offer the listeners and readers an escape from their lives, constrained by social norms. The fact that these tales were transmitted mostly in written form implies that the narratives served as a means to relieve the repressions of the educated class, who were strictly bound by the Confucian social order.

Tale of Eccentrics

Tale of Eccentrics
Headword

기인담 ( 奇人故事 , Giindam )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer NoYounggeun(盧暎根)

Giindam, or tales of eccentrics, depict characters that demonstrate traits and actions that are different from ordinary people.

Tales of eccentrics can be categorized into those that explain the origin of the eccentrics, and those that depict their deeds.

The eccentrics’ origins are usually explained through their appearance. Han Myeong-hoe was born only seven months into the pregnancy, his body not yet fully formed, and when his family did not want to raise him, an old maidservant wrapped him with quilted clothing for protection. The baby began to grow after a few days and there were black warts on his belly and back, in the pattern of constellations (Gimunchonghwa, Assorted Collection of Tales Read and Heard). Eo Jung-ik was a state official during the reign of King Taejo of Goryeo, who was born with unusual body hair and scales under his arms. His surname was Ji, but Taejo bestowed the surname Eo, meaning “fish” (Gyeseoyadam, Tales from Gyeseo). Yi Tak was born with the appearance of a dragon. He was left covered with a blanket and soon he turned into a child (Gimunchonghwa).

Tales that narrate the deeds of eccentrics mostly focus on those who did not enter public service, and were thus unbound by the secular social order. Sin Man was capable of knowing a person’s fate after seeing his face or hearing his voice just once. Sin found academic pursuit ridiculous, but he was friends with the Confucian scholar Song Si-yeol, and one day he asked Song to give him lessons. After several days of discussions on the Confucian discipline with Song, Sin laid back, stretching his legs with a yawn, and jeered that Confucianism is like a dog’s bony legs (Maeonghallok, Maeong’s Tales for Idle Times). Geomancer Yi Ji-ham visited scholar Yi I one day, wearing a ceramic conical hat (sakkat) and a long straw rope tied around his waist. When Yi I asked about his attire, Yi Ji-ham answered that he became epileptic after sleeping next to a chilly wall in a drafty room, and no medicine would cure him, so he meditated in a temple in the mountains in this attire, which cured him of the illness (Dongpaenaksong, Tales of the Eastern Kingdom for Repeated Recitation).

These tales offer the listeners and readers an escape from their lives, constrained by social norms. The fact that these tales were transmitted mostly in written form implies that the narratives served as a means to relieve the repressions of the educated class, who were strictly bound by the Confucian social order.