Traits of a Hero – Fictional Choi Yong


The last time Joonni, Softy and I met, we had a brief discussion on Choi Yong being the best hero, and I agree with Joonni that of all the heroes in K-drama, we love Choi Yong the most.But Choi Yong does not measure up very well to Raglan’s 22 traits of a hero, nevertheless, Daejang only had 24 episodes. Could have done more…Anthropology 101 – Raglan

Fictional Choi Yong, scores 9 1/2 out of 22

1. (x) The hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
2. (1/2) His father is a king, and (FATHER HIGH NOBLEMAN)
3. (x) Often a near relative of his mother, but
4. (x) The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5. (x) He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
6. (x) At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
7. (✔) He is spirited away, and (BY MOON CHI HOO)
8. (✔) by foster parents in a far country. (RED CRESCENT MOON)
9. (✔) are told nothing of his childhood, but
10. (✔) On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11. (✔) After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast, (GI CHEOL)
12. (1/2) He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and (EUN SOO IS PRINCESS ENOUGH TO ME)
13. (1/2) Becomes king. (GI CHEOL SAID HE COULD)
14. (x) For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
15. (x) Prescribes laws, but
16. (x) Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
17. (✔) driven from the throne and city, after which (AT LEAST TWICE ON THE WANTED LIST)
18. (✔) He meets a mysterious death, (TWICE, BUT DID NOT DIE)
19. (✔) Often at the top of a hill. (SUPPOSED THE TREE’S ON A HILL)
20. (x) His children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. (x) His body is not buried, but nevertheless
22. (x) He has one or more holy sepulchers.

The historical Choe Yeong got 9 1/2 ✔s with #2 (half), #9,
#11 (Yuan), #14 (as general and mayor),
#15 (as general and mayor), #16 (Gongmin), #17 (banished), #18 (beheaded and grass never grew on his grave), #20 (guess not since he was beheaded), #22 (many memorials other than the red grave)

Same score.

But to be fair, the above traits Raglan listed are more of the Homeric Greek Epic Hero tradition. So I won’t cry over Choi Yong failing the test.

If we go for C Yung and J Campbell’s archetype hero (more universal among religion, mythologies, epics, literature), then both historical and fictional Choi Yong do well. At least the late Campbell was more of our contemporary. So Choi Yong got closer.

Fictional Choi Yong – 8 OUT OF 9 !

1. (✔) circumstances of birth; sometimes in danger or born into royalty (HIGH NOBLEMAN FOR A DAD)
2. (✔) leaves family or land and lives with others (RED CRESCENT MOON)
3. (✔) event, sometimes traumatic, leads to adventure or quest (FATHER, TEACHER, FIRST LOVE DIED, TIME TRAVEL, ORDEALS AFTER HE FAILED TO RETURN ES)
4. (✔) has a special weapon only he can wield (HIS TEACHER’S SWORD THAT KILLS ITS OWNER)
5. (✔) always has supernatural help (WE KNOW HE COMMANDED THUNDER AND LIGHTNING)
6. (✔) Hero must prove himself many times while on adventure (ESPECIALLY TO ES FOR KEEPING HIS PROMISE)
7. (✔) Journey and the Unhealable Wound (DEATH OF HIS FATHER, TEACHER AND FIANCEE, AND LOSING ES TO DOORWAY TO HEAVEN)
8. (✔) experiences atonement with the father (“STILL HAVEN’T FOUND IT?” HIS DAD KEPT ASKING AT THE LAKE)
9. (x) When the hero dies, he is rewarded spiritually

If we go for Goucher’s attributes of an epic hero and epic in this sense is not exclusive of greek heroes, plus removing cultural and period differences, our fictional Choi Yong aced the test!

1. (✔) Excels in skill, strength, and courage
2. (✔) Succeeds in war and adventure
3. (✔) Values honour and glory (VOWS UPON HIS LIFE AND SO LET ES STAB HIM)
4. (✔) usually has a guide (ES, I SUPPOSE? THOUGH NOT A GOOD ONE, SHE IS A HISTORY BK)
5. (✔) Battles demons or monsters (GI CHEOL)
6. (✔) Is generous to his followers but ruthless to enemies
7. (✔) Is a man of action
8. (✔) Accepts challenges and sometimes invites problems
9. (✔) Sometimes make rash decisions and takes unnecessary risks
10. (✔) Meets monsters and temptations (DOORWAY TO HEAVEN, COULD HAVE LEFT, COULD HAVE TAKEN THE THRONE)
11. (✔) Encounters women who tempt him (HSI, ES)
12. (✔) Descends into darkness, often the underworld (THE FROZEN LAKE)
13. (✔) Achieves his goal

A hero is not complete unless he is flawed. Gilgamesh was oversexed, Achilles had his unfortunate heel, and Samson, his Delaila. Our Choi Yong is lazy and likes to sleep a lot at the beginning. If this is the only flaw, he is the sweetest hero I have ever met in literature or drama, and he had already redeemed himself. Have you seen him sleep much after the flashbacks?

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