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The Korea Now Podcast

Jun 21, 2020

This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Minsoo Kang. They speak about The Story of Hong Gildong, the importance of this story in both Korean history and continuing into the present day, the origins of the Hong Gildong character in the Joseon Dynasty, the understanding of this character as a ‘noble robber’ in the same archetype as Robin Hood, the historical myths and scholarly inaccuracies that have changed most peoples’ conceptions of the text, the difficulty in translating the story from the 34 extant versions that survive today, the pseudo-history that has built up around both the story and the figure of Hong Gildong, how we should view the story now and its place in modern Korean society, and why The Story of Hong Gildong remains such an important achievement in Korean literature.

Minsoo Kang is an associate professor in European history, with specialities in the cultural and intellectual history of France, England, and Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He received his Ph.D. in June of 2004 from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he wrote his dissertation on the automaton as a cultural and intellectual symbol in the European imagination. In addition to articles in numerous journals he is the author of ‘Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination’ (Harvard University Press, 2010) and co-editor of ‘Visions of the Industrial Age, 1830 - 1914: Modernity and the Anxiety of Representation in Europe’. And pertinent to this podcast, he is also the author of ‘The Story of Hong Gildong’ (Penguin Classics) (, and ‘Invincible and Righteous Outlaw: The Korean Hero Hong Gildong in Literature, History, and Culture’ (

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