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Korean Classics Symposium in Naples, Italy

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    11/07/2017 to 11/08/2017


The Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea, President: Kim Seong-Kon, professor Emeritus at Seoul National University) held a Korean Classics Symposium in Naples, Italy, from November 7th to November 8th.


The symposium opened on November 7th with special guests from the University of Naples "L'Orientale"—Chancellor Elda Morlicchio and Professor Michele Bernardini, Head of the Department of Asian, African, and Mediterranean Studies. The two guests gave congratulatory remarks at the opening event.


The theme of the symposium was ‘In Search of Spirits and Heroes: A Journey into Classic Korean Literature’. The first day of the proceedings included presentations from four speakers, including the opening remarks, along with discussions and a traditional sjio performance. Professor Maurizio delivered the opening remarks, comparing the journeys of Vergilius and Choe Chiwon and tracing the changing attitudes toward the two brilliant poets over time.


The afternoon session began with a presentation by Professor Jo Sang Woo of Dankook University, who discussed Korean classics like <Choegounjeon (The Story of Choe Go-un)>, <Jeonuchijeon (The Story of Jeon U-chi)>, <Jeongwansanjeon (The Story of Jeon Gwan-san)>, ‘Illyeomhong’, and <Yeoyeongung (The Heroine)> to analyze the different portrayal of heroes across eras and sexes, and explained the historical significance of their portrayals.


Guida of the University of Naples followed with a presentation on how the strange creatures featured in Chinese folktales reflect the perceptions of people from those times, and about the social effects of such stories.


Professor Cho Haeran of Ewha Womans University gave the final presentation of the day, dividing female ghosts in Joseon-era literature into three categories. She especially focused on the female ghosts of ‘Gangdomongyurok’, who do not settle for personal vengeance but go further and criticize the government.


 Audiences braved the rain to fill the venue, remaining attentive through the presentations, discussions, breaks, and the performance to the end. Daegeum player Lee Gi-su and Singer Ji Min-ah, both dressed in traditional hanbok, were greeted with great enthusiasm. A thunderous round of applause followed each daegeum solo and sijo stanza.


The symposium continued the next day with a presentation by Professor Andrea de Benedittis of the University of Naples. Professor Benedittis discussed his analysis of ancient Koreans’ perceptions of of supernatural phenomena, spirits, and monsters, as extrapolated from sections of the Samguk Yusa.


 The final presentation was by Professor Sangsoon Kang of Korea University, who summarized the earlier presentations and described the kinds of spirits in traditional Korean culture, and gave a comprehensive overview on their origins, purpose, and sociopsychological effects.


This symposium was not only an opportunity to share academic knowledge on the portrayal of spirits and heroes in classic literature, but also a chance to get a glimpse at the deep insight Korean and Italian scholars had for the field, and a chance to confirm the great interest that students at the University of Naples had for Korean literature and the study of Korean culture.


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