|Title||AN INVESTIGATION INTO A NINETEENTH-CENTURY PRIMER FROM CHOSŎN|
Vol. 21 No. 1
pp. 231~253 (all 23 pages)
primer, panjŏl, horoscope, woodblock, print culture
During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, many literacy primers known as panjŏl (反切) were printed in Chosŏn to teach illiterate Koreans the basics of Korean writing. One particular type among them, titled Sin’gan panjŏl (新刊反切, Newly printed primer), is interesting for two reasons. First, although it identifies itself as a primer, most of its contents are in fact horoscope charts which tell fortunes about marriage (kunghap 宮合) as well as inauspicious times in a person’s life (samjae 三災 and chiksŏng 直星). I analyze the principles behind these horoscope charts and show that, while these horoscopes have their origins in Chinese and Indian culture, they have distinctly Korean characteristics. Second, Sin’gan panjŏl may be seen as evidence for a diffusion of han’gŭl literacy driven by economic motivations during the late Chosŏn period. I suggest that Sin’gan panjŏl were probably printed by commercial printers of the time whose primary products were novels. By selling these primers, they could expand their market by bringing literacy to the illiterate, and the horoscope charts would have appealed to even those who were not interested in novels.