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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Hwarang Segi Manuscripts: An In-Progress Colonial Period Fiction

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2005, v.45 no.3, pp.230-260
Ricard D. McBride II
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Abstract

The Hwarang segi manuscripts, made public in 1989 and 1995, were purportedly discovered and copied by Bak Changhwa while working in Japan for the Japanese government between 1933 and 1945. Korean scholars are deeply divided on the issue of authenticity because the manuscripts are fundamentally different than the later Goryeo period sources that are presumed to have used Gim Daemun’s (fl. 704) Hwarang segi as a source. The manuscripts provide genealogies for historical figures that contradict the traditional sources. This study addresses two terms and titles deployed in the text that are anachronistic: pungwolju (lord of hwarang training/customs) and jeongtong (orthodox transmission). Pungwolju is not attested in other documents until the mid-Joseon period, and jeongtong and its associated terms were not used outside of the context of political legitimation until the early ninth century at earliest. Also, since Bak never publicized his putative discovery of the Hwarang segi during his lifetime, the evidence best suggests that the manuscripts represent drafts of an unfinished Sino-Korean fiction written by Bak during the colonial period.

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