To any one who would like to look somewhat into the inner soul of the Oriental, and see the peculiar spiritual existences among which he lives, the following stories will serve as true interpreters, born as they are of the three great religions of the Far East, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
An old manuscript copy of Im Bang's stories came into the hands of the translator a year ago, and he gives them now to the Western world that they may serve as introductory essays to the mysteries, and, what many call, absurdities of Asia. Very gruesome indeed, and unlovely, some of them are, but they picture faithfully the conditions under which Im Bang himself, and many past generations of Koreans, have lived.
The thirteen short stories by Yi Ryuk are taken from a reprint of old Korean writings issued last year (1911), by a Japanese publishing company. Three anonymous stories are also added, "The Geo-mancer," to show how Mother Earth has given anxiety to her chicks of children; "Im, the Hunter," to tell of the actualities that exist in the upper air; and "The Man who lost his Legs," as a sample of Korea's Sinbad.
The biographical notes that accompany the stories are taken very largely from the Kuk-cho In-mul-chi, "Korea's Record of Famous Men."
J. S. Gale.
Im Bang was born in 1640, the son of a provincial governor. He was very bright as a boy and from earliest years fond of study, becoming a great scholar. He matriculated first in his class in 1660, and graduated in 1663. He was a disciple of Song Si-yol, one of Korea's first writers. In 1719, when he was in his eightieth year, he became governor of Seoul, and held as well the office of secretary of the Cabinet. In the year 1721 he got into difficulties over the choice of the Heir Apparent, and in 1722, on account of a part he played in a disturbance in the government, he was exiled to North Korea, where he died.
(From Kuk-cho In-mul-cht, "Korea's Record of Famous Men.")
Yl Ryuk lived in the reign of King Se-jo, matriculated in 1459, and graduated first in his class in 1564. He was a man of many offices and many distinctions in the way of literary excellence.
"Korea's Record of Famous Men."