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  • P-ISSN1229-0076
  • E-ISSN2773-9351

The Tang-Song Poetry Debate in Joseon

The Review of Korean Studies, (P)1229-0076; (E)2773-9351
2021, v.24 no.1, pp.215-238
https://doi.org/10.25024/review.2021.24.1.007
한희연 (Wilfrid Laurier University)
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Abstract

This paper examines the development and implications of the Tang-Song poetry debate in Joseon. The debate, which started in China during the late Song period, was introduced to early Joseon through the Ming dynasty. While embracing the Chinese literati’s evaluations of Tang and Song poetic traditions and their reverence for Tang poetry as a paragon of poetic excellence, the Joseon literati also formed critical views on the debate, informed by their unique cultural and political realities. This paper identifies three key factors that led to the distinct development of the debate in Joseon: namely, 1) the influence of orthodox Neo-Confucian ideology, 2) the growing awareness of Joseon’s temporal and cultural distance from China, and 3) King Jeongjo’s literary reform. While Song poetry was rejected as an inferior model by the Ming participants in the debate, the Joseon literati came to its defence due to their commitment to the Song Neo-Confucians and their literary works. Citing Joseon’s distinct history and culture from those of the Chinese dynasties, they also formed critical responses to the trend of imitating Tang poetry. More importantly, the debate in Joseon entailed the renunciation of Ming-Qing poetry and the promotion of Joseon poetry, best exemplified in King Jeongjo’s literary reform. Taken as a whole, the Tang-Song poetry debate served as a catalyst for dynamic theoretical explorations and indigenization of Sinitic poetry in Joseon, Korea.

keywords
Tang-Song poetry debate Joseon poetry Ming-Qing poetry King Jeongjo literary reform indigenization

The Review of Korean Studies