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Hong Gildong is a fictitious character in an old Korean novel, Tale of Hong Gildong ( ), written in the Joseon Dynastymarker. The story was authored by Heo Gyun and is believed to have been written in the late 16th or early 17th century. Hong Gildong is famous for his robbing the rich to feed the poor, much like the English folk hero Robin Hood.

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. He was born in a studious scholar family, as Korea at the time was a Confucianist state. 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 Gildong is also a common placeholder name, similar to John Doe in the United Statesmarker.

The Story of Hong Gildong

Due to the strict 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 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 Nankingmarker 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 Joseonmarker 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.


The story was adapted into a South Korean animated feature film of the same name in 1967. [336728] A North Koreanmarker martial arts film, Hong Kil Dong, was released in 1986.

A character from Hong Gildong 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 KBS2marker.


  1. Retrieved September 22 2006 from Naver Books.

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