Literary representation of a proxy-test taker: Focusing on "The Tale of Yu Kwangǒk"

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This study examines the literary representation of proxy-test takers, focusing on "The tale of Yu Kwangǒk" by Yi Ok 李鈺 (1760-1815). This tale sympathetically portrays Yu Kwangǒ k as a talented but impoverished scholar who made a living drafting answers for rich civil service examination applicants. It therefore reveals that poverty and insignificant political background drove poor yangban to facilitate cheating as proxy examination takers. The tale also criticizes the corruption of the examination system, which failed to serve as a reliable ladder to success for poor yangban from politically insignificant families. Minimizing Yu's ethical responsibility and emphasizing his social vulnerability, the tale carefully presents Yu as a victim of the corrupt examination system and evokes readers' sympathy for him. Through this depiction of a proxy examination taker as a symptom of a corrupt system, utilizing and expanding biographical practices, the writer, himself a politically isolated yangban, expressed his personal anxieties and his critique of society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-224
Number of pages22
JournalSungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Academy of East Asian Studies.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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