Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su

Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su

Headword

박문수 친척된 사람 ( Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ShinDongheun(申東昕)

This tale narrates the story of a butcher who posed as a kin of Bak Mun-su and was treated as a nobleman.

In a village there lived a butcher who had acquired great wealth but continued to experience humiliation or had his money taken from him due to his lowly social class. One day the village’s local clerk faced grave charges for embezzling government money, and the butcher offered to pay back the money on his behalf. In return, the clerk presented the butcher with a letter appointing him as overseer, but protests from the local aristocracy kept him from accepting the post. So the butcher took his possessions and moved to a faraway village, where he posed as a kin of the famous secret inspector Bak Mun-su. Upon hearing rumors, Bak paid a visit to the butcher’s home, where the butcher quickly realized it was Bak and treated him with hospitality, to seek Bak’s help. Later when Bak revealed his identity at the local magistrate’s office and visited the butcher again, the butcher greeted Bak without fear or reserve, which earned him status as a nobleman. Bak Mun-su’s younger brother, however, would not accept this and came after the butcher, threatening to kill him, but the butcher succeeded in locking him up as a mental patient and upon the younger brother’s surrender, was able to enjoy his new status.

Variations of this tale feature a butcher paired with a poor nobleman, or a servant paired with his former master. In some versions, the clerk’s letter of appointment is replaced with a fake family tree, or the story opens with the butcher pasting on his gate a message that reads, “Bak Mun-su should stop by this house.” The butcher usually claims that he is Bak’s uncle or second uncle, or in some versions, poses as Bak’s cousin or brother.

This narrative reflects the changes in the notion of social class in late Joseon, through a protagonist who responds actively to the changing times. The butcher is a typical “vulgar rich man” character of late Joseon, capable of pioneering new life using his practical insight and abilities. His posing as a nobleman is not mere elevation of status but a means of human liberation and self-fulfillment. Bak Mun- su, in this tale, is a man who accept the changing times, while his brother is punished for refusing to accepting the change. The tale gained much popularity as a highly literary narrative about social change, with vivid, recognizable characters.

Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su

Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su
Headword

박문수 친척된 사람 ( Man Who Became a Kin of Bak Mun-su )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Folk tales

Writer ShinDongheun(申東昕)

This tale narrates the story of a butcher who posed as a kin of Bak Mun-su and was treated as a nobleman.

In a village there lived a butcher who had acquired great wealth but continued to experience humiliation or had his money taken from him due to his lowly social class. One day the village’s local clerk faced grave charges for embezzling government money, and the butcher offered to pay back the money on his behalf. In return, the clerk presented the butcher with a letter appointing him as overseer, but protests from the local aristocracy kept him from accepting the post. So the butcher took his possessions and moved to a faraway village, where he posed as a kin of the famous secret inspector Bak Mun-su. Upon hearing rumors, Bak paid a visit to the butcher’s home, where the butcher quickly realized it was Bak and treated him with hospitality, to seek Bak’s help. Later when Bak revealed his identity at the local magistrate’s office and visited the butcher again, the butcher greeted Bak without fear or reserve, which earned him status as a nobleman. Bak Mun-su’s younger brother, however, would not accept this and came after the butcher, threatening to kill him, but the butcher succeeded in locking him up as a mental patient and upon the younger brother’s surrender, was able to enjoy his new status.

Variations of this tale feature a butcher paired with a poor nobleman, or a servant paired with his former master. In some versions, the clerk’s letter of appointment is replaced with a fake family tree, or the story opens with the butcher pasting on his gate a message that reads, “Bak Mun-su should stop by this house.” The butcher usually claims that he is Bak’s uncle or second uncle, or in some versions, poses as Bak’s cousin or brother.

This narrative reflects the changes in the notion of social class in late Joseon, through a protagonist who responds actively to the changing times. The butcher is a typical “vulgar rich man” character of late Joseon, capable of pioneering new life using his practical insight and abilities. His posing as a nobleman is not mere elevation of status but a means of human liberation and self-fulfillment. Bak Mun- su, in this tale, is a man who accept the changing times, while his brother is punished for refusing to accepting the change. The tale gained much popularity as a highly literary narrative about social change, with vivid, recognizable characters.