The Tale of Cho Ung

A Classic of Vengeance, Loyalty, and Romance

Translated by Sookja Cho

Columbia University Press

The Tale of Cho Ung

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Pub Date: November 2018

ISBN: 9780231186117

240 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: November 2018

ISBN: 9780231186100

240 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: November 2018

ISBN: 9780231546492

240 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

The Tale of Cho Ung

A Classic of Vengeance, Loyalty, and Romance

Translated by Sookja Cho

Columbia University Press

The Tale of Cho Ung is one of the most widely read and beloved stories of Chosŏn Korea. The anonymously written tale recounts the adventures of protagonist Cho Ung as he fearlessly confronts and overcomes obstacles and grows into a heroic young man. As a child, Ung flees a wicked tyrant who wrongfully killed his father and took advantage of the emperor’s death to seize the throne from the young prince. Driven by his passion, righteousness, and sense of duty, he pursues retribution and restores justice. His journey, from its innocent beginnings to his final triumph, unfolds as a complex tapestry of loyalty, honor, retribution, and love interspersed with threads of romance and the supernatural.

This first translation into English of The Tale of Cho Ung offers a glimpse into the vernacular and popular literature of the late Chosŏn period, exemplifying the types of stories and heroes that were favored by its reading public. The tale emphasizes individual affections and ethics between child and parent, husband and wife, subject and ruler, pupil and teacher, yet explores human life in all its complexity, even subtly dissenting against traditional Korean social norms. This unabridged translation draws upon the many surviving editions of the novel, which vary in length and format. In her introduction, Sookja Cho addresses how the novel evolved and changed over time, while her annotations help to reveal the depths of a text that conveys the richness and complexity of premodern Korean literature and culture.
This book enriches and expands the study of premodern Korean literature for scholars and general readers alike. Chan E. Park, The Ohio State University
The book provides a useful introduction to the publishing and circulation of narrative fiction that highlights the popularity of fiction set in China. Both introduction and translation reflect broad knowledge of Korean and Chinese literature. The translation is done in an engaging style without sacrificing the nuances of the original. John Duncan, University of California, Los Angeles
Despite its brash heroism and thirst for revenge, the dominant motif here is sorrow. Set in medieval China, Cho Ung’s martial adventures provoke copious tears, heartfelt lamentations, and abject apologies for ritual failures that are emotionally powerful for the modern reader as well. This is an unforgettable rendition of an extraordinary Bildungsroman. Robert E. Hegel, Washington University, St. Louis
This fascinating tale of romance and adventure is a wonderful window into the creative spaces of the late Chosŏn period and the type of entertainment that many in this time sought. Cho’s artful translation of this best seller takes readers on wave after wave of intriguing places, bold exploits, and romantic encounters. Michael Pettid, Binghamton University
The Tale of Cho Ung translates the heroic world of Cho Ung into readable, effortless English prose. Suppressing the hero’s dependence on supernatural powers and featuring his free will both in his military prowess and romantic pursuit, its premodern “realism” will have a particular appeal to modern readers. A major addition to Korean classics in English. Jin-Kyung Lee, University of California, San Diego
This is the story of a hero par excellence who is as much a filial son, respectful pupil, loyal husband, and supreme judge of people as he is the ultimate warrior. Sookja Cho poignantly delivers both its poetic elements and popular storyteller qualities, delivering a boon to the growing premodern Korean literature field and all readers ready to indulge Late Chosŏn Korea’s distinctive world of martial narrating and moralizing." Wiebke Denecke, Boston University
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Note on the Translation


Book 1
Book 2
Book 3


Notes
References

About the Author

Sookja Cho is assistant professor of Korean and comparative literature at Arizona State University.