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I. Le récit de rêve, entre vision et divination

Dreaming about the Dead in Premodern Korea (17th-19th Century)

Rêver des morts dans la Corée prémoderne (xviie-xixe siècles)
조선후기 제문에 묘사된 망자에 관한 꿈
Marion Eggert
p. 43-72


Dreams about deceased loved ones as narrated in funerary orations (chemun) written roughly between 1600 and 1820 are used to study the Chosŏn literati’s way of dealing with bereavement. Close parallels could be found with the results of contemporary Western psychological studies on dreams about the dead. These findings suggest that the Chosŏn literati conceptualized interpersonal relationships and, ultimately, subjectivity in ways that do not lend themselves to dichotomic juxtapositions with (modern) Western individuality.

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Full-text article is available on Cairn platform in open access. It will be available on this URL in January 2022.
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The Texts: Sample Selection and Genre Constraints
The Dreams: Causation
The Dreams: Contents
Reunion dreams
State-of-the-dead dreams
Message dreams
Parting dreams
Mourning Process and Late Chosŏn Subjectivities

First lines

The cultural, philological and historical study of dreams, especially that of the last two or three decades, has directed its efforts ever more intensely towards historicizing the dream experience. While earlier comparative studies of dream cultures, often under the impression of psychoanalytical dream theory, had tended more towards seeking for universals in the power, appeal and functions of the dream, the tide turned towards understanding the dream as a highly culturally specific phenomenon, useful for unravelling the cultural grammars into which the diverging semantics of the dream feed, and from which they derive. The present essay is firmly rooted in the same endeavor—understanding culture through the ways it deals with dreams. However, rather than aiming at deciphering specific cultural codes expressed through dream discourse, it takes a prior understanding of Sinic cultural codes related to dreams as background. Based on this, it makes use of narratives of dreams—more specif...

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Bibliographical reference

Marion Eggert, “Dreaming about the Dead in Premodern Korea (17th-19th Century)”Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident, 42 | 2018, 43-72.

Electronic reference

Marion Eggert, “Dreaming about the Dead in Premodern Korea (17th-19th Century)”Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident [Online], 42 | 2018, Online since 01 December 2020, connection on 16 May 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Marion Eggert

(fr) Professeur d’études coréennes à l’université de la Ruhr à Bochum (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Allemagne). Après une formation initiale en études chinoises, elle s’est spécialisée dans l’histoire intellectuelle de l’époque Chosŏn tardive et dans l’étude de la littérature coréenne moderne et prémoderne. Elle s’intéresse aux récits de voyage, à la poésie et à la poétique, aux débats sur le langage, en mettant l’accent sur les questions de circulation des savoirs et l’évolution culturelle au travers des contacts, considérée diachroniquement et synchroniquement, ainsi qu’aux questions de construction du moi et de l’identité.
(en) Professor of Korean studies at Ruhr University Bochum (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany), educated in Chinese studies and specialized on Late Chosŏn intellectual history and early modern and modern Korean literature. Her research interests include travel literature, poetry, and poetics, as well as language discourse, with a major focus on knowledge circulation, cultural evolution through synchronic and diachronic contact, and constructions of self and identity.

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