Chosun-Period Pornographic Play Discovered

    September 28, 2007 09:59

    "With an arrow put to the string, I have no choice but to shoot it." "How shameless you are! We're almost there. How can I stop it even if you ask me to? Damn this skirt of mine! Why is it here now?"

    These are lines of dialogue from an explicit play dating back to the late Chosun Dynasty. Titled “Buksanggi”, it was discovered by Ahn Dae-hoe, a professor of Korean literature in classical Chinese at Sungkyunkwan University. On Saturday, Ahn will publish a paper on the play at a seminar sponsored by the Korean Classical Literature Association at Hanyang University.

    The play is presumed to have been written either in 1780, the fourth year of the reign of King Jeongjo, or in 1840, the sixth year of the reign of King Heonjong. The author’s name is given as Donggo Eocho, a man presumed to have been a ruined aristocrat. At 124 pages long, it was written in the Chinese style then current as a story in dialogue. It is the second Chosun-period play, following "Dongsanggi" by Lee Ok.

    The front cover (left) of ‘Buksanggi’and part of the book (right)./Yonhap

    "Buksanggi" deals with the bizarre love affair between Kim Nak-an, a 61-year-old man in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, and Kim Sun-ok, an 18-year-old gisaeng or female entertainer of the period. Nak-an meets Sun-ok at a birthday party and feels sexual desire for her. He finally succeeds in winning her but loses her again to an exile in a baduk game for tobacco, which is in short supply. But her mother Bongraeseon seduces the exile into sending Sun-ok back.

    In the process, various kinds of sexual positions are explored, carrying such evocative names as "rocking a swing", "toying with a duck's legs", "hyeopbiseon" (flying fairy), and "hujeonghwa" (flower in the back garden), and there is also mention of an aphrodisiac.

    Ahn said after the 18th century, there was a trend in the Chosun period of pursuing sexual pleasure in various ways, with gisaeng houses in urban areas playing the central role. “That situation, the play shows, offered a cultural foundation where people could express their pent-up desires, boldly breaking away from Confucian ideologies and ethics,” he said.

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