Hong Gildong

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Hong.
Hong Gildong
Opening page of Tale of Hong Gil dong.
Korean name
Revised Romanization Hong Gil-dong
McCune–Reischauer Hong Kil-tong

Hong Gildong is a fictional character in an old Korean novel, Tale of Hong Gildong (Hangul홍길동전; hanja洪吉童傳; RRHong Gil-dong-jeon), written in the Joseon Dynasty. The story was authored by Heo Gyun and is believed to have been written in the late 16th or early 17th century. The story is based on Im Kkeokjeong. Hong Gildong robs the rich and corrupt aristocrats to provide for the poor, much like the English folk hero Robin Hood. Hong Gildong's historical inspiration was the early 16th century Korean bandit and folk hero Im Kkeokjeong.[1]

The author of the novel, Heo Gyun (허균), is usually known in Korea as the writer of the first Korean novel, but was also a radical intellectual. His half-brother Heo Seong was at that time a famous poet, and his sister Heo Nanseolheon one of Korea's few famous female poets and artists. Heo Gyun had long dreamed to change Korea into a fair society with no pressures within a hierarchy.

Hong Gil dong is also a common placeholder name, similar to John Doe in the United States.[2]

The Story of Hong Gildong[edit]

Due to the strict Korean Confucian laws of the Joseon Dynasty, Heo expressed his ideas in this novel, where Hong, born an illegitimate child, is not accepted by his father and family. His father, after hearing from a mudang (shaman) that his son is cursed, attempts to kill him but fails. Shocked and appalled at his father's actions, he goes out into the world, where he becomes a bandit leader. He becomes a bandit for the people, and steals from the rich only to give to the poor. His popularity within the peasant society soars, and many view him as a hero. Because of this, he is wanted by the government under Yeonsangun and is marked as a national traitor. With the order from the King, the government forces try to capture him many times, only to capture three hundred of his manifestations. Eventually, to control him, the government offers him the job of War Minister in which he accepts. For a while, he is satisfied with his occupation, but later, he realizes that the people still suffer. To find out the truth, he departs for Nanjing to seek truth there. On his way, by chance he discovers the nation of Yul-do, which was oppressed by demons. He defeats the demons, and is elected the king of Yul-do. However, he hears the news of his father’s death, and hurries back to Joseon to serve his father’s funeral for three years, according to tradition. After his service, he returns to Yul-do, where he lives happily as a king and hero.

Interestingly, Hong is shown as returning to serve his father's funeral for three years, whereas his father attempted to murder him years ago. This reveals Hong's heroic state of mind furnished by Heo Gyun.[citation needed]


  • A South Korean animated feature film sequel named Hong Gil dong Janggun (홍길동 장군, "General Hong Gildong") followed in 1969.[4]
  • A South Korean role-playing video game, Hong Gil dong jeon (홍길동전), was released for IBM compatible computers in 1993 by A+.[8]
  • A sequel to the 1993 game, the interactive movie Hong Gil dong jeon 2 (홍길동전 2), was released in 1995.[9]
  • Another South Korean animated feature film has been produced in 1995 with the title Doraon Yeongung Hong Gil dong (돌아온 영웅 홍길동, "Returned Hero Hong Gildong").[10]
  • A platform game video game adaption of the 1995 animated feature film with the same title was released by LG.[11]
  • The 1995 South Korean role-playing video game The Romance of Forgotten Kingdom (망국전기~잊혀진 나라의 이야기, Mangguk Jeon'gi: Ichyeojin Nara-ui Iyagi) takes place in Yuldo, the country founded by Hong Gil dong in the original story.[12]
  • The manhwa series Hong Gil dong: Murim jeonsa rok (홍길동~무림전사록) by Oh Se-kwon (오세권) was started in 2004 and tells the story of Hong Gil dong's return to Joseon in a fantasy world with cyberpunk elements.
  • A character from Hong Gil dong was also adapted in the Shin Agyo Onshi manga as female bandit leader.
  • A South Korean TV series based on the same story, entitled Hong Gil-Dong, The Hero (a.k.a. Hong Gil Dong), first aired on January 2, 2008 on KBS2.


  1. ^ (Polish) Joanna Rurarz (2009). Historia Korei. Dialog. ISBN 978-83-89899-28-6. P.237
  2. ^ DBDic.com (디비딕닷컴) (2001). Neo geugeo ani? 너 그거 아니? (Did you know that?). ISBN 89-7075-229-3.  Retrieved September 22, 2006 from Naver Books.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of Korean Animation: Part II". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.kmdb.or.kr/movie/md_basic.asp?nation=K&p_dataid=05191&keyword=%C8%AB%B1%E6%B5%BF
  5. ^ http://www.kmdb.or.kr/movie/md_basic.asp?nation=K&p_dataid=05359&keyword=%C8%AB%B1%E6%B5%BF
  6. ^ "Hong Kil Dong". MIFF. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  7. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: A History of Korean Gaming". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: A History of Korean Gaming". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: A History of Korean Gaming". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.kmdb.or.kr/movie/md_basic.asp?nation=K&p_dataid=04809&keyword=%C8%AB%B1%E6%B5%BF
  11. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: A History of Korean Gaming". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Hardcore Gaming 101: A History of Korean Gaming". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Park Jeong-woo (박정우). "Descendants of Hong Gil-dong (Korean Movie - 2009) - 홍길동의 후예 @ HanCinema :: The Korean Movie and Drama Database". HanCinema. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Hong Gil-dong to be revived in musical" Korea Herald. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-29

See also[edit]

External links[edit]