The shaping of Lu Xun's public image and his portrait images

Seuk Pyo Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


After Lu Xun published “A Madman's Diary” (Kuangren riji) and “The True Story of Ah Q” (A Q zhengzhuan), through the active introduction by modern Korean mass media, Lu Xun enjoyed the highest popularity of all modern Chinese literary author in Korea Peninsula. “A Madman's Diary” translated by Ryu Sooin, was published in the magazine Donggwang (The oriental light) in 1927. Yang Baekhwa's translation of “The True Story of Ah Q” was serialized in The Chosun Ilbo (The Korea daily) in 1930. “Lu Xun and His Works” by Jeong Raedong, who conduct systematic criticism on Lu Xun's literature, was published in The Korea Daily in 1931. Lu Xun was thus differentiated from the so‐called “Zhou Brothers” and claimed a place of his own as a representative Chinese writer. After that, Lu Xun's various works were translated into Korean, and he was acknowledged as “a Chinese literary master” and “a world‐class writer” in the Korean literary world. Lu Xun's literature was hence widely acknowledged. Lee Kwangsoo even created another character called “Park Seondal” based on the motif of “Ah Q.” With the development of mass media, people were eager to see Lu Xun's personal image. In the 1930s, major Korean media, such as The Shin Dong‐a (The new East Asia), The Dong‐a Ilbo (The East Asia daily), The Chosun Ilbo (The Korea daily), The Maeil Sinbo (The daily report), Chokwang (The morning light) and Samcheonli (Three thousand miles), successively published Lu Xun's portraits and photos, helping visualize Lu Xun's image and making great contributions to shaping the public image of Lu Xun and his literature. Through these major media in Korea, Lu Xun's works and his reputation became widely known, and his portrait images were also circulated. In February 1938, the Hwarang Garden Troupe staged the play The True Story of Ah Q. Considering the commercial nature of the theatre at that time, the public performance of The True Story of Ah Q indicates that Lu Xun and his works had achieved a solid foothold in the public mind. However, Korean people's access to Lu Xun's literature was blocked after March 1938, when Japanese imperialists imposed a blanket ideological clampdown. With the advent of liberation on August 15, 1945, the modern Korean public strongly needed Lu Xun's life experience and literary spirit as enlightenment. Hence, translation and research of Lu Xun's literary works became active again. In particular, in 1946, after the publication of The Collected Short Stories of Lu Xun (Volumes 1−2), jointly translated by Kim Kwangju and Lee Yongkyu, which included Lu Xun's major works, Korean people were able to gain a more systematic access to Lu Xun's literature. The inspirational value of Lu Xun's literature was re‐ignited after Korea's liberation and independence. Lu Xun was thus once again praised as “a literary giant” and “a great writer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-629
Number of pages46
JournalFrontiers of Literary Studies in China
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study has received the sponsor support of the National Social Science Fund of China: Documentation and Research on the History of Modern and Contemporary Literature Exchange between China and South Korea (Project No. 16ZDA189).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • Korean
  • Lu Xun
  • Modern Korea
  • Portrait image
  • Public image
  • Translations of Lu Xun's works


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