The University of Hawaii Press has just published Minsoo Kang’s full-length study of the Hong Gildong hero myth. You can see more about the book here.
From University of Hawaii Press:
In Invincible and Righteous Outlaw, the first book-length study of the novel in English, Minsoo Kang reveals that The Story of Hong Gildong was most likely written by an anonymous mid-nineteenth-century writer whose primary concern was appealing to the increasing number of readers in the late Joseon looking to be entertained and that the myth of Heo’s authorship can be traced to the writing of literary scholar Kim Taejun in the 1930s. Following a detailed examination of the history and literary significance of the novel—including analysis based on Eric Hobsbawm’s work on the universal figure of the noble robber—Kang surveys the many afterlives of the hero Hong Gildong, who throughout the decades has appeared and reappeared in countless revisionist novels, films, television dramas, and comics, even inspiring the creation of a Hong Gildong theme park in South Korea. He shows how the story was altered, distorted, and reinvigorated during and after the Japanese colonial period in both the North and the South for political, social, and literary purposes. While demonstrating the continued relevance of the novel and its hero in Korean culture up to the present day, Kang makes it clear that such narratives have served mostly to distance readers from a better understanding of this classic work.