Monday, July 18, 2011

Samguk Yusa

A recent discovery is the Samguk Yusa. Compiled in the 13th century by a Buddhist priest, Samguk Yusa (Legends of the Three Kingdoms) is an odd and enjoyable mix of anecdotes and legends of the Three Kingdoms that would later become Korea. Kings are superhuman, monks can fly, tigers and bears pray to be reincarnated as humans, while ghosts and dragons come and go. The Korean sections ar book stores are always dwarfed by the sections devoted to China and Japan, which reflects a general gap in English-language studies devoted to Korea. This gap is unfortunate. Korean has a long and interesting history, beautiful traditional arts, great food and, as this book shows, a long history of great storytelling.

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