Monday, March 23, 2009

"Washing place" (빨래터:漂母;Pal-Lae-Teo) by Danwon Kim, Hong-Do

One of three great painters in Joseon dynasty, Danwon, is loved by people as he complains feudalism by his sarcastic drawings where a man with a gat, a traditional Korean top hat for male, is mostly described in the picture doing nothing but cheating or playing around. 

In "Washing place," there is a man stealing a glance when women are washing. The reason why a man has to steal the glance would be closely related to Confucianism, a religion that had prevailed during Joseon dynasty. According to Confucianism, a man is not supposed to literally be with a woman, which is called "남녀상열지사; Nam-Nyeo-Sang-Yeol-Ji-Sa." A man sneaking a look at women is a socially unacceptable behavior by the virtue of Nam-Neyo-San-Yeol-Ji-Sa, and obviously the man in the picture seems to dare to do it, which I personally find it to be hilarious.  

The man with a gat is called, "선비; Seon-Bi,"meaning a scholar. I would like to make this point though, it is not the case that all Seon-Bi were dishonest and corrupted. However, be aware that Danwon is a painter in the "late" Joseon dynasty. Therefore, I assume that there must be not a few corrupted Seon-Bis occupying their jobs that probably they didn't deserve because dishonest Seon-Bis do not work, yet still get paid. I also presume that it would play an important role in perishing the kingdom of Joseon. Sad!


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