Category Archives: literature

The Death of Allegory

The Death of Allegory BY BILLY COLLINS I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractions that used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintings and parade about on the pages of the Renaissance displaying their capital letters like license plates. Truth cantering on a powerful horse, Chastity, eyes downcast, fluttering with veils. Each one was marble come to life, a thought in a coat, Courtesy bowing with one hand always … Continue reading

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王維 Wang Wei (701-761) 終南別業 (Zhongnan Mountain Retreat)

中岁颇好道,晚家南山陲。 兴来每独往,胜事空自知。 行到水穷处,坐看云起时。 偶然值林叟,谈笑无还期。 WANG WEI (699-761) “Zhongnan Mountain Retreat” “Zhongnan Mountain Retreat,” by Wang Wei In my middle years I came to much love the Way and late made my home by South Mountain’s edge. When the mood comes upon me, I go off alone, and have glorious moments all to myself. I walk to the point where a stream ends, and sitting, watch when the clouds rise. By chance I … Continue reading

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不可说 (霍建华 & 赵丽颖) | Cannot be Said (Wallace Huo & Zanilia Zhao)

不可说 用你的手 解我的锁 跌入这温柔漩涡 yòng nǐ de shǒu jiě wǒ de suǒ diē rù zhè wēn róu xuán wō 千丈风波 万般蹉跎 情意都不曾变过 qiān zhàng fēng bō wàn bān cuō tuó qíng yì dōu bù céng biàn guò 一世牵绊 一念成祸 还执意一错再错 yī shì qiān bàn yī niàn chéng huò hái zhí yì yī cuò zài cuò 一瞬之间 一生厮守 粉碎成末 yī shùn zhī jiān yī shēng sī shǒu fěn suì chéng mò 爱上你爱上了错 ài … Continue reading

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登鸛雀樓 (Ascending Stork Tower)

白日依山盡 黃河入海流 欲窮千里目 更上一層樓

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Ikseongwan 익선관

For a long time I wondered why the bulbous hat worn in the Joseon court had what appeared to be Cicada wings in the back. Now I know! Thank you Arirang TV!

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琅琊榜 (Lángyá Bǎng)

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千字文 (Qiānzìwén) Daily lessons

  Learning Tools 千字文 (Qiānzìwén) 1000 characters with Pinyin   千字文 (Qiānzìwén) 250 lines with Pinyin   千字文 (125 verses & Pinyin & Translation)

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자장가 – 신돈

신돈 – 자장가 어젯밤에 바라본 달님이 엄마얼굴 닮아서 오늘 밤도 하늘을 보지만 구름속에 가려져 작사 : 김태윤 작곡 : 노형우 ,황상준 편곡 : 노형우 Shin Don – Lullaby Last night the moon shone Recalling a mother’s face Tonight we see the sky Shrouded in the clouds Lyrics: Kim Tae-Yoon Music: Noh Hyeong-Woo, Hwang Sang Jun Arrangement: Noh Hyeong-Woo

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The Perfection of 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

School of Comedy After the finale of that most enchanting of romantic comedies, 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You), I found myself, like many fellow aficionados who had been absorbed in the story of Lee Geon and Kim Mi Yeong, uninterested in watching any other productions despite KDrama’s abundant offerings, including titles on my “to watch” list. I remember something like this happening once before when, after my initial introduction to, and frenzied consumption of KDrama, my appetite for … Continue reading

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Love in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

Every once in a blue moon something comes along that has you so entranced, so engaged, so… moved… that it leaves you at a loss to comprehend just what is happening to you. As you try to make sense of it, it sparkles and shines with every gesture. Words issuing from it are musical pearls of poetic truth that imbue the very air with a richness never before imaginable to your dopamine-saturated mind. Thus … Continue reading

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Pragmatic Altruism vs. Noble Idiocy in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

I have long wanted to examine pragmatic altruism in KDrama narratives, a trope which exemplifies certain Confucian ethical tenets, yet is repeatedly deprecated as “noble idiocy” at interweb oases where KDrama aficionados gather, including DramaBeans, the go-to resource for KDrama news, recaps, and commentary. Finally compelled by this summer’s revelatory 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You), a romantic comedy at once loud and subtle, playful, sly, culturally erudite and deeply moving –whether in mirth or in woe– … Continue reading

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When words r jjust not enough…

…to accurately describe 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)…

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궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace – War of Flowers)

Greed, betrayal, vengeance — all this and the casual brutality wrought in their service — are at the raw, bloody heart of 궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers), where a veritable Pandemonium of malignant narcissists —essentially functional psychopaths, the lot of them!— has the run of King Injo of Joseon’s court. Joseon era sageuk are generally replete with a particularly acrid flavor of palace intrigue, but none more so than those … Continue reading

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김수한무 거북이와 두루미 (A Fable)

“김수한무 거북이와 두루미 삼천갑자 동방삭 치치카포 사리사리센타 워리워리 세브리깡 무두셀라 구름이 허리케인 담벼락 서생원에 고양이 바둑이는 돌돌이“. So the story goes: A long, long time ago, a man who was descended from a long line of only sons per generation became father to a baby boy. So he consulted a name-specialist to give his only son a name symbolic of a long life. But no matter what the name-specialist suggested, the man insisted, “longer… make … Continue reading

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성균관 스캔들 – ’tis not poetry

Without love for the people and concerns for the nation, ’tis not poetry. Without aching for our era and outrage at the world, ’tis not poetry. Without striving for good and guarding against evil, this too, is not poetry. attr. Jeong Yak Yong (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)

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풀 꽃 (Grass Flower)

  풀 꽃-  나태주 자세히 보아야 예쁘다 오래 보아야 사랑스럽다 너도 그렇다 ________ Grass Flower  by Na Taeju You have to look closely to see its loveliness You have to gaze for a long time to discover that it is lovable You are just like that. Courtesy  학교 2013 (School 2013) See also: Love in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

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아름다운사람

And now this, from 내 이름은 김삼순 (My Lovely Sam Soon): 아름다운사람 서유석 작사 : 서유석 작곡 : 서유석 편곡 : 서유석 장난감을 받고서 그것을 바라보고 얼싸안고 기어이 부숴버리는 내일이면 벌써 그를 준 사람조차 잊어버리는 아이처럼 오 오오오 오 오 오오오 오 오 오오오 오 아름다운 나의 사람아~ 당신은 내가 드린 내마음을 고운 장난감처럼 조그만 손으로 장난하고 내마음이 고민에 잠겨있는 돌보지않는 나의 여인아 나의 사람아 오 오오오 오 아름다운 나의 사람아   … Continue reading

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주몽 (Jumong)

  “Trust is more important than life. Kill them all!” So declares Soseono (소서노) with admirable equanimity on her first outing as the leader of the trade troop owned by Yeontabal (연타발), Chief of Keru and Leader of the Jolbon (졸본) confederacy. Soseono is destined to inherit the troop from her father and this is her first opportunity to prove her mettle as a trader and to freely wield her authority as the troop leader. … Continue reading

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태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun)

The surprisingly engaging yet low key 태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun) has proven itself the perfectly satisfying close to an insanely packed semester. The misleading DramaFever title, Beyond the Clouds, unfortunately suggests the kind of supernatural sentimentalism and maudlin in which Stairway to Heaven and some of the Four Seasons dramas are usually awash. Thankfully  태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun) is a much better story told in a brisk yet leisurely set of 16 chapters with just the right degree of dramatic momentum. Once you finish the … Continue reading

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동이 (Dong Yi)

What a discovery! Watching 동이 (Dong Yi) is like unwrapping a present you received a long time ago and decided to open later but then ended up neglecting to open because “later” never came and you soon forgot about it. And then one day you discover the still-wrapped package in the top shelf of the coat closet and  take it down and start opening it out of idle curiosity, absent any expectations, only … Continue reading

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선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok)

“Chess” may be the word best suited to conveying the drama of open-faced intrigue and gamesmanship that is 선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok). The war between Princess Deokman (the future Queen Seon Deok) and the formidable Mi Shil for control of Silla is the stuff of epic. And perhaps because our contenders are both women, heroic prowess is here not framed in terms of brute force and naked aggression, but rather through strategic craft … Continue reading

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황금의 제국 (Empire of Gold)…

Among all the sins a man might commit, betrayal – a species of fraud – ranks among the most ethically abhorrent. The key to understanding the gravity of the sin of betrayal, and the crime of fraud, is the fundamental role of trust in the organization, function and governance of society. In Aristotle’s model of the ethical spectrum whereby human relationships range from the primarily transactional (business and trade) to the largely … Continue reading

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I ♡ 무정도시 (Heartless City)… truly… sadly… deeply…

…by the end of the first chapter I could already tell that things are not going to end well for our protagonist. When we first meet him, it is the middle of the night in Seoul and Jeong Shi Hyeon is standing on the roof of a tall, tall building from which an undercover police officer who suspected he had been made has apparently just plummeted to his death in the street below. … Continue reading

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Notes on 자명고 (Ja Myung Go)

There is so much to say about Ja Myung Go, the first of which must be that it is beautifully complex… and also rather narratively intricate at the beginning. The complexity is wonderful: it is in the characters, in the political intrigue, in the lost history of Naklang, in the legend of Prince Hodong’s tragic love(s). But the initial narrative intricacy can be disorienting, especially since the significance of what happens in the … Continue reading

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Boys Over Flowers, or “The Education of Gu Jun Pyo : a Bildungsroman”

Recently, I stumbled upon Boys Over Flowers (꽃보다 남자), the second kdrama series I ever saw nearly a year ago, and found myself watching it all over again! Had you asked me a few weeks earlier, I would have declared myself no longer compelled to revisit the tale of Jan Di’s misadventures among the spoilt rich. Don’t get me wrong: I greatly enjoyed it the first time around. I remember breezing through each episode … Continue reading

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Notes on 근초고왕 (King Geunchogo)

Ah! What a relief – an historical saga that feels like an historical saga! After the foamy travesty that was Kim Soo Ro and the less-than-solid despite its beauty Ja Myung Go, it is refreshing to once again happen upon a Goguryeo-era sageuk drama that has some of the appealing traits of Jumong. It is becoming increasingly clear to me as I watch this that among the elements that makes Jumong so engaging is the spot on mix of political … Continue reading

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At Last! Time Travel Done Right!

It was purely on a whim that I started watching  Nine: Nine Time Travels  (나인: 아홉번의 시간여행), and all I can say is YES! As in, FINALLY! — a time travel story that spends most of its energy broaching topics closely pertinent to the question of time and also near and dear to my heart — namely: Free Will vs. Predestination; Counterfactuals and Causality; the simultaneity of the present in all instances; and the progressive/sequential nature of the … Continue reading

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Liebster Award!

  So I just got through designating my own set of arbitrary awards for “Must See” KDrama  when I got this lovely message from Maybee at dramababble telling me that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. Please check out her fantastic blog and read her own Liebster Award entry! First, let me just say – “Oh, what an honor! I would like to thank my agent, my manager, my personal assistant, my … Continue reading

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Series or Feature Film? Hwang Jin Yi and Shin Yun Bok, a Case Study.

who tells the better story? – who tells the story better? It’s one thing to watch two kdrama adaptations of the same story, like MBC’s  The Return of Iljimae and SBS’s  Iljimae. It’s quite another to have at your disposal feature film interpretations of stories already elaborated in full length dramas as happens with two artistic geniuses of the Joseon era whose lives are dramatized in the television series Hwang Jin Yi and Painter of … Continue reading

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Playing Favorites… the KDrama and Film ‘Must See’ List

Long overdue is the time to tip the nib of my (virtual) pen to those dramas and feature films to which I have been awarding my highest rating, three stars.  If you wish to see a comprehensive list of titles I’ve explored since setting off on this adventure, you may find it in “Curio in KDramaland… (or, Through the Sageuk Lens)“. You will also find the key to the asterisk and numeric annotation. … Continue reading

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Curio in KDramaland… (or, Through the Sageuk Lens)

I have been contemplating the virtues of the well made sageuk and what its persistent appeal to me (and maybe even to other viewers) might mean. Surely, something… It turns out that while I apparently have watched only one third as many sageuks as contemporary fictions (from comedies to melodramas and everything in between), I am more disposed to want to collect historical dramas than I am contemporary fictions. When it comes … Continue reading

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Notes on 돌아온 일지매 (The Return of Iljimae)

Chapters 1-2 Okay… the first adjectives that come to mind during episode 1 and most of 2: “weird” and then “bizarre” and then “camp.” I barely made it past the first (structurally very rocky and disjointed, hyper-didactic, excessively-yet-not-quite-adequately-expositional) episode… Were it not for the fact that I have committed to following this drama through, especially since I enjoyed SBS’s Iljimae so much, I would have had a very difficult time moving on to episode … Continue reading

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일지매 (Iljimae) – birth of a hero…

Just finished watching Iljimae and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went in expecting little more than a two-dimensional comic book hero in a campy fusion sageuk. Instead I got a light-hearted yet touching folk-hero novel that is amusing and moving — with plenty a wink and a nod yet full of pathos as well. And tropes, tropes and more tropes… yet sooo much fun to watch as the story of Lee Joon Gi’s Iljimae … Continue reading

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그 겨울, 바람이 분다 (That Winter, the Wind Blows)

Betsy Hp over at Creating Volumes posed a curious question in her recent notes about That Winter, the Wind Blows (그 겨울, 바람이 분다), a drama that follows the vicissitudes of Oh Soo’s oh-so-complicated life. Our hero is a con-man — a playboy, a gambler and a smart ass — and he is posing as the long lost brother of the blind, orphaned heiress to a mega-fortune. If he can pull off the … Continue reading

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Island in the stream…

The summer after I received my diploma in Romance Languages and Literatures and struck out into the world as a Medievalist, I happened upon I know-not-what Korean Drama on hulu and I could not take my eyes off the 16-episode tale so woeful that it wrung from me every last tear my lacrimal glands could produce, leaving me quite spent. Then I discovered DramaFever and for six months after that I drank … Continue reading

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The Many Names of Astrid Farnsworth

One of the funniest conceits in Fringe is the excellent Mad Scientist Walter Bishop’s plethora of reinventions and variations of Agent Farnsworth’s name. Some people think it’s because Walter cannot remember Astrid’s name. I, however, suspect that this little quirk is a voluntary affectation through which the inimitable Walter Bishop expresses his profound affection for his infinitely patient, kind and compassionate  sidekick/caretaker/friend and mother hen. So among Walter’s onomastic gems for his beloved Watson … Continue reading

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The Praise of Men…

John Milton could not have said it better when he summed up the folly of vanity: all who in vain things Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame… Naught seeking but the praise of men, here find Fit retribution, empty as their deeds. (III 448-54) When the second edition of his epic poem Paradise Lost appeared in 1674, Milton had raised hell enough to call it a day. No doubt … Continue reading

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Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος…

Kar chakruok Wach ne nitie, kendo Wach ne nikod Nyasaye, kendo Wach ne en Nyasaye. Hapo mwanzo, kabla ya kuwapo kitu kingine cho chote, aliku wapo Neno. Huyo Neno alikuwa pamoja na Mungu, naye alikuwa Mungu. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Au commencement était la Parole, et la Parole était avec Dieu, et la Parole était Dieu. in principio erat … Continue reading

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