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

A Court Case of Frog and Snake: Rereading Korean Court-Case Fiction from the Law and Literature Perspective

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2019, v.59 no.2, pp.61-85
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2019.59.2.61

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Abstract

This article focuses on textual analysis of the Wasa ogan (A Court Case of Frog and Snake), a fabulous court-case story written in the late Joseon period. The emergence of the genre of court-case fiction was inseparably linked to the wide diffusion of litigation culture and the growth of popular interest in law and justice in late Joseon society. Fabulous court-case fiction, in which the courtroom of the animal world is depicted rather than a setting for human justice, is an ingenious blend of two separate narrative traditions—court-case fiction and fable. Of these types of stories, the Wasa ogan is truly remarkable in that it ingeniously incorporates the form of an inquest record (geoman) into the genre of fable. Inquest records are highly formulaic legal documents, in which the processes of inquest (geomheom) consisting of autopsy and interrogation are recorded in idu writing. By combining the precision of legal writing with the pleasure of fiction, the text demonstrates how the convergence of law and literature and of fact and fantasy is possible. As for the relationship between law and literature, the text is a prominent example illustrating the perspectives of law as literature as well as the law in literature.

keywords
Wasa ogan A Court Case of Frog and Snake court-case fiction fabulous court-case fiction inquest record law as literature Joseon legal culture

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