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Research Article

Journal of Ginseng Culture 2022; 4(1): 38-58

Published online March 2, 2022

https://doi.org/10.23076/jgc.2022.4.038

© Korean Society of Gingseng

박완서의 소설 「미망(未忘)」에 나타난 인삼의 상징성

옥순종*

연세대학교 언론홍보영상학부

Received: September 30, 2021; Revised: November 10, 2021; Accepted: November 12, 2021

The Symbolism of Ginseng in Mimang by Park Wan-Seo

Soon Jong Ock*

Dept. of Media Communication, Yonsei University

Received: September 30, 2021; Revised: November 10, 2021; Accepted: November 12, 2021

This is an Open Access journal distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Park Wan-seo's novels deal with realistic topics of society, such as women's issues, the capitalist system, and the problems that come with old age. Assuch, her work is used as a tool to analyze social phenomena in various fields, such as women's studies, sociology, and literature. A characteristic style of Park Wan-seo's novels is that she bases them on her own experiences. However, among her novels, the novel Mimang is exceptional. The plot is based on stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is to show the spirit of the times through the unforgettable story of her hometown, Gaesong. Mimang is the story of a family chronology that spans four generations centered on Chun Cheu-Man and his family, who became powerful capitalists through the cultivation and commerce of ginseng cultivation. Set in the late 19th century until the end of the Korean War, the novel unravels the essence of the times symbolized by merchants of ginseng and Gaeseong, focusing on the actions of people living in a period of historical turbulence. Gaeseong is the mecca of Korean ginseng, and Gaeseong cannot be portrayed without the story of ginseng and its merchants. Therefore, Mimang, a fictionalized story based on real facts, contains valuable testimony of the history of ginseng, not only as historical values of modern history and personal customs but also as microhistory. In the novel, traces of the times of Gaeseong and the spirit of ginseng merchants, as shown in the Japanese sacking of ginseng during the colonial period, the resistance of ginseng merchants, and the conversion of ginseng capitalism to modern capitalism, are imprinted like fossils. What is especially meaningful is that the stories in the novel correspond to historical facts and constitute a chapter in the history of ginseng. The symbolism of ginseng in the novel can be explained in three main ways. First, it shows the essence of Korean ginseng. It reveals the soul of ginseng through the sincerity and rigor of ginseng farming, as well as the spirit and pride of ginseng. Second, it symbolizes the exploitation of ginseng in Japan as a national issue. The efforts of ginseng merchants to protect this and support the independence movement are presented as important themes to express nationalism. Third, it shows the modern capitalist progressiveness of Gaeseong ginseng merchants, who do not stay in landownership and commercial capital, but convert them to productive capital and contribute to society by modernizing them. The three symbolisms show the spirit of the times of the Gaeseong ginseng merchants, clearly revealing the meaningful relationship between the Korean people and ginseng.

Keywords: Park Wan-Seo, Novel Mimang, Korean ginseng, Ginseng business spirit, Gaeseong merchant, Ginseng & National sufferings, National spirit, Modern capitalism

Article

Research Article

Journal of Ginseng Culture 2022; 4(1): 38-58

Published online March 2, 2022 https://doi.org/10.23076/jgc.2022.4.038

Copyright © Korean Society of Gingseng.

박완서의 소설 「미망(未忘)」에 나타난 인삼의 상징성

옥순종*

연세대학교 언론홍보영상학부

Received: September 30, 2021; Revised: November 10, 2021; Accepted: November 12, 2021

The Symbolism of Ginseng in Mimang by Park Wan-Seo

Soon Jong Ock*

Dept. of Media Communication, Yonsei University

Received: September 30, 2021; Revised: November 10, 2021; Accepted: November 12, 2021

This is an Open Access journal distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Park Wan-seo's novels deal with realistic topics of society, such as women's issues, the capitalist system, and the problems that come with old age. Assuch, her work is used as a tool to analyze social phenomena in various fields, such as women's studies, sociology, and literature. A characteristic style of Park Wan-seo's novels is that she bases them on her own experiences. However, among her novels, the novel Mimang is exceptional. The plot is based on stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is to show the spirit of the times through the unforgettable story of her hometown, Gaesong. Mimang is the story of a family chronology that spans four generations centered on Chun Cheu-Man and his family, who became powerful capitalists through the cultivation and commerce of ginseng cultivation. Set in the late 19th century until the end of the Korean War, the novel unravels the essence of the times symbolized by merchants of ginseng and Gaeseong, focusing on the actions of people living in a period of historical turbulence. Gaeseong is the mecca of Korean ginseng, and Gaeseong cannot be portrayed without the story of ginseng and its merchants. Therefore, Mimang, a fictionalized story based on real facts, contains valuable testimony of the history of ginseng, not only as historical values of modern history and personal customs but also as microhistory. In the novel, traces of the times of Gaeseong and the spirit of ginseng merchants, as shown in the Japanese sacking of ginseng during the colonial period, the resistance of ginseng merchants, and the conversion of ginseng capitalism to modern capitalism, are imprinted like fossils. What is especially meaningful is that the stories in the novel correspond to historical facts and constitute a chapter in the history of ginseng. The symbolism of ginseng in the novel can be explained in three main ways. First, it shows the essence of Korean ginseng. It reveals the soul of ginseng through the sincerity and rigor of ginseng farming, as well as the spirit and pride of ginseng. Second, it symbolizes the exploitation of ginseng in Japan as a national issue. The efforts of ginseng merchants to protect this and support the independence movement are presented as important themes to express nationalism. Third, it shows the modern capitalist progressiveness of Gaeseong ginseng merchants, who do not stay in landownership and commercial capital, but convert them to productive capital and contribute to society by modernizing them. The three symbolisms show the spirit of the times of the Gaeseong ginseng merchants, clearly revealing the meaningful relationship between the Korean people and ginseng.

Keywords: Park Wan-Seo, Novel Mimang, Korean ginseng, Ginseng business spirit, Gaeseong merchant, Ginseng & National sufferings, National spirit, Modern capitalism

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Journal of Ginseng Culture

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