Eerie Tales from Old Korea – republished 100 years on

by Philip Gowman on 9 May, 2013

in Books on traditional culture, General book news, Korean literature in translation

100 years ago, Homer B Hulbert and James Scarth Gale translated and published “Eerie Tales from Old Korea”, a collection of Korean ghost stories. Now Brother Anthony of Taize has handpicked some of those tales, and Seoul Selection has republished them to celebrate the 150th birthdays of Gale and Hulbert.

It’s definitely going on to my reading list.

Eerie Tales from Old Korea

Spirits, Monsters and Demons
In Paradise, in Seoul, and in the Underworld

Eerie Tales coverHomer B. Hulbert and James S. Gale, two of the most famous North American missionaries to come to Korea in the 1880s, were very fond of ghost stories, but for years the Korean scholars they met swore that no such stories existed in Korea. Eventually, they discovered that Korea, too, had a plentiful supply of ghosts and spirits, celebrated in many eerie tales. However, because the stories had seemed too frivolous or were connected with shamanism and Buddhism, the scholars had been ashamed to talk about them.

A main source of these stories were collections of yadam. These were a form of short tale, especially popular in the Joseon period. Whereas Confucian classics were the gateway to officialdom, yadam offered an escape valve, dealing with things much closer to daily life. The stories told there were about individuals who were not always admirable paragons of Confucian virtue; rather, they were often artful dodgers who managed to escape from tricky situations; survive traps; deal with ghosts, spirits, and nine-tailed foxes; and even get rich in the process.

As we celebrate the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Hulbert and Gale, the present selection of Korean ghost stories—nostalgic for their echoes of the lost world of old Korea and its many ghosts—is offered for the pleasure of readers in the twenty-first century, one hundred years after their original publication.

Price: KRW 9,500 / USD 8.64
Pub Date: May 2013
Pages: 176
Cover: Softcover
Dimensions (in inches): 5.11 x 7.87 x 0.51
ISBN: 9781624120022
Language: English

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