The Story of Hong Gildong is arguably the single most important work of classic Korean fiction. Like its English counterpart, Robin Hood, it has been adapted into countless movies, television shows, novels and comics. Its memorable lines are known to virtually every Korean by heart. Until now, this incredible 19th century fable has been all but inaccessible to English readers.
Hong Gildong, the brilliant but illegitimate son of a government minister, cannot advance in society due to his secondary status, so he leaves home to become the leader of a band of outlaws who rob the rich to give to the poor. On the way to building his own empire and gaining acceptance from his family, Hong Gildong vanquishes assassins, battles monsters, and conquers kingdoms. Minsoo Kang's expressive and animated new translation finally makes the original text of this classic available in English, re-introducing a noble and righteous outlaw and sharing a beloved hallmark of Korean culture.
"[A] marvel-filled swashbuckler...The Story of Hong Gildong
begins to resemble a sword-and-sorcery fantasy in the mode of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon...
Besides being half fairy tale, half social protest novel, The Story of Hong Gildong
possesses a profound resonance for modern Koreans."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"Hong Gildong is an iconic figure in the Korean literary canon...He's the mythic center of a sometimes-delightful, sometimes-unsettling tale, and it's time the Western world gets to know him...The edition Kang has delivered is a chewy one, combining historical context and the archness of myth with wry personality."
“Minsoo Kang’s long-anticipated and eminently readable translation of this Korean classic, with his incisive introduction, makes this edition of Hong Gildong
indispensable for both casual readers and scholars of Korean literature.”
—Heinz Insu Fenkl
"[An] engaging, essential tale."-Publisher's Weekly,"Pick of the Week"
"Wonderfully complex, rich with moral questions, and an easy read, like a fairy tale."
"If you read only one book about Korean heroic outlaws this season, this should be the one."-Kirkus
"For such a slim volume, The Story of Hong Gildong
has an incredible array of implications for scholars of history, Korean literary history, and even contemporary political life...[Kang's] engagement with the radical contours that would spread to East Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brings a welcome critical eye to a story that deserves to be cherished as a massively influential piece of fiction, but maybe not as a blueprint for a new world." -Asian Review