[Hallyupedia] Chunhyangjeon

연합뉴스 / 2022-05-08 17:30:24
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by Ra Hwakjin / Haemin Kim

[ENG] The story of Chunhyang, a representative work of ancient Korean novels. 


▲ This photo, shows the play of Chunhyang being performed in a modern way. (Yonhap)

The story of Chunhyang is one of the representative works of ancient Korean novels. Although it is presumed to be a work before or after king Yeongjo and Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty, the exact date and author of the story is unknown.

Chunhyang depicts the love story between Lee Mong-ryong, the son of a Namwon Bussa (mayor of Namwon), and Chunhyang, the only daughter of a retired gisaeng, Wolmae.

The two who fell in love at first sight, parts when Lee Mong-ryong’s father moved to Seoul. Later, Chunhyang gets imprisoned because she refused to sleep with the newly appointed Namwon deputy governor, Byun Hak-do. Lee Mongryong, on the other hand, went to Seoul and took an exam and came back as an ambassador who sees oversees officials. On Byeon Hak-do’s birthday party, Lee Mong-ryong comes to the palace where the heads of the town gather and dismisses Byeon Hak-do to rescue Chunhyang.

The love that transcends the ranks of Chunhyang, Mongryong and Byeon Hak-do, who represents the arbitrariness of the privileged class also portrays the situation of the Joseon Dynasty. The figure of Chunhyang, who defends the integrity of Lee Doryong (Lee Mong-ryong. Doryong was a word for men who were not married) by protesting Byeon Hak-do especially shows the society during the Joseon Dynasty and is interpreted as representing the self-portrait of the late folk. The dramatic way of Lee Do-ryung punishing Byun Hak-do is also told to be an expression of the people's dream, which was almost impossible in the reality.

There is an opinion that says that Chunhyangjeon is a collection of folk tales and a comprehensive love story. It is said that people sang Pansori (Korean genre of musical storytelling performed by a singer and a drummer) and was later written down. As the story has been handed down from mouth to mouth in the first place, there are subtle differences in the story.

◇Infinite variations from movie to drama

Chunhyangjeon was first created as pansori, and was later settled as a novel to became a changgeuk (traditional Korean music play) again. Today it has been transformed into various genres including plays, films, musicals, and operas.


▲ This photo, shows the poster for the drama 'Chunhyang' made in 2000. (Yonhap)


While there are dozens of Chunhyangjeon that has been made into films, “Chunhyang” made in 2000, directed by Im Kwon-taek and Cho Seung-woo playing Lee Mong-ryong and Lee Hyo-jeong playing Chunhyang has got to be the most representative one. When they were filming, Lee Hyo-jeong, like Chunhyang was 16 years old while Cho Seung-woo was 19 years old. Although the movie was aimed for 15-year-olds, there was controversy whether Lee Hyo-jeong, a teenager, filming love scenes were adequate.



▲ This photo, shows the main characters of "The Servant" in the press conference of their movie. (Yonhap)


“The Servant (2010),” which twists the original story and puts Bang-ja, the servant of Mongryong as the male lead instead of Lee Mongryong was also very successful with 3 million viewers. The characters were excellently portrayed by Cho yeo-jeong, Kim joo-hyuk and Ryoo Seung-bum.

▲ This photo, shows a scene from the KBS drama “Sassy Girl Chun-hyang” aired in 2005. (Yonhap)


The 2005 KBS drama “Sassy Girl Chun-hyang” was a fusion drama that mixed pansori with the background music while moving the stage of “Chunhyangjeon” to a more modern era. With the last episode reaching a viewer rating of 32.3%, it was very popular. Through this, Uhm Tae-woong was born as a new star, while Han Chae-young, who played the bright and cheerful character of Chunhyang, was said to have succeeded in changing her image according to the character.

▲ This photo, shows changgeuk "Chunhyang" that was played in the National Changgeuk Company of Korea. (Yonhap)


▲ This photo, shows changgeuk "Chunhyang" that was played in the National Changgeuk Company of Korea. (Yonhap)



The National Changgeuk Company of Korea re-performed the changgeuk “Chunhyang” from May 4th to 8th. Changgeuk Chunhyang is well-received for being modern while also containing the musical charm of Pansori Chunhyangga.

◇ Chunhyang Festival to commemorate Chunhyang is held every year in Namwon

Although Chunhyang is a fictional character in the novel, in Namwon, North Jeolla province, where the story is set, a festival is held every year to commemorate Chunhyang as if Chunhyang was a real person.

In 1931, Chunhyangsa, a shrine to Chunhyang, was built in Namwon, and the event was held every year from then on, on May 5th according to the moon calendar, when Lee Doryung and Chunhyang first met. However, later it was changed to 8th April, Chunhyang’s birthday.

This year, the 92nd Chunhyang Festival was held on the 4th and held about 40 programs under the theme of "Again, love" until the 8th.

Representative events include the Chunhyang Festival which commemorates Chunhyang, National Chunhyang contest which is also known as the highlight of the festival, and the Chunhyang Gugak Festival, the best Korean traditional music event.


▲ This photo, shows the 6 winners of the Chunhyang National Contest. (Yonhap)

▲ This photo, shows the 6 winners of the Chunhyang National Contest. (Yonhap)


This year, Choi Seong-kyung (23) was appointed as Miss Chunhyang Jin (the first place), Jeong Gaya (24, Seoul) took the sun (second place), Kim Gyu-ri (24, Seoul) took the Mi (the third place), Jin Se-min (21, Seoul) took the Jeong (the fourth place), Lee Bin (23, Gwangju) took the sook (the fifth place) and Kim Min-ji (24, Gyeonggi) took the hyun (sixth place).

Among the past Miss Chunhyang winners, some also made their debuts in the entertainment industry, including Oh Jung-hae (1992), Yoon Son-ha (1994), and Jang Shin-young (2001).




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