Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Tradition as Hindrance or Shortcut to Success? - Multi-layered References to Traditional Literary Narratives in the Romantic Comedies "The Legend of the Blue Sea" (2016) and "Goblin" (2016-2017)

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

Korean dramas enjoy immense popularity also beyond Korean borders, while at the same time especially romantic comedies fight the image of being repetitive and superficial. This paper questions this general judgement by shedding light on the complexity of two recent extremely popular romantic comedies, namely The Legend of the Blue Sea (P’urǔn pada ǔi chǒnsǒl, Chin Hyǒk) and Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (Ssǔlssǔrhago ch’allanhasin tokkaebi, Yi Ǔngbok). I argue that this complexity partly owes to massive and multi-layered references to traditional literary narratives


The Legend of the Blue Sea is introduced on its official SBS homepage as an adaptation of a story about mermaids and mermen recorded by Yu Mong-in (1559-1623) in his Unofficial Talks (Ǒu yadam). The mermaid in the drama itself is named Sim Ch’ǒng after the filial daughter in the popular Korean fairy tale in which the daughter sacrifices herself by jumping into the ocean to help her blind father. Goblin also abounds in allusions to traditional fairy tales and songs.


Given the fact that one of the main pillars of hallyu is the success of Korean television dramas outside of Korea, the question arises whether the dense references to traditional literary narratives hinder or aid the success of romantic comedies. Can spectators without a Korean cultural background grasp the allusions? Do references to traditional literary narratives scare spectators away? Or do they rather attract by conveying an exotic atmosphere?

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1 - Tradition as Hindrance or Shortcut to Success? - Multi-layered References to Traditional Literary Narratives in the Romantic Comedies "The Legend of the Blue Sea" (2016) and "Goblin" (2016-2017)



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Send Email for Tradition as Hindrance or Shortcut to Success? - Multi-layered References to Traditional Literary Narratives in the Romantic Comedies "The Legend of the Blue Sea" (2016) and "Goblin" (2016-2017)