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Note #20: Korean oral literature survey (2008.6.18)

Important update: this survey now exists in easy-to-use online form over at SurveyMonkey. While I will still gladly accept copied-and-pasted surveys as well as Word documents, feel free to fill out this survey online. Thank you! (Note: there were previously problems with the survey in Firefox do to a mistake I made in designing the survey. I have since fixed this problem.)

OK, so this is not the content I was hoping to put up this week, but it is something that needs to get done. Here’s the deal: in August, I am going to be presenting a paper at the summer session of the Society of Korean Oral Literature. The theme of this session is “Oral Literature and the Diaspora—the Current Situation and Future Outlook in the 21st Century,” and I have been tapped to present on the subject of Korean oral literature and culture as seen by foreigners. It’s going to be an interesting paper to write, and quite unlike anything I’ve written before. The organizers told me that I could write about my experiences, but let’s face it: I am just one foreigner, and I’m probably not a typical foreigner (if there even is such a thing here).

So I had this bright idea: do a survey of foreigners living in Korea (and foreigners who lived in Korea in the past) and see how they view Korean oral literature and culture. (Not sure what oral literature/culture is? Wikipedia’s entry on Oral Tradition is not a bad place to start.) I think this will make a far more interesting paper than simply writing about my experiences. Of course, for this to happen, I need people to fill out the survey. That, dear reader, is where you come in. I realize that I have readers from around the world, but I also know that a number of my readers are fellow foreigners in Korea. More importantly, some of these people have far more influence than I in the foreigners-living-in-Korea blogosphere. If you are one of the aforementioned foreigners, you can help me out by 1) filling out the survey yourself and 2) spreading the word. For either of these I will be eternally grateful, and if I happen to know you personally, there’s a good chance you will get home-baked bread out of the deal. (I’m not sure about the ethicality of bribing people to fill out a survey, but a researcher’s gotta do what a researcher’s gotta do, right?)

There’s two ways to do this survey. You can copy the survey text below, paste it into the message field of my contact form, and then fill it out there (please be sure to include a valid email address so I can at least thank you!). Alternatively, since not everyone likes typing into tiny little text fields, you can download the MS Word version (97-2003 compatible) of the survey, fill it out at your leisure offline, and then email it to me (my email address can be found in the file). Either way works for me.

Enough babbling—on to the survey! (Note: After receiving a few replies, I made a slight change to the survey below, namely the addition of question 10b. This change is also reflected in the Word file.)

Part I: Demographics

1. What is your nationality?

2. How would you describe your ethnic background?

3. How long have you lived in Korea? If you are not living in Korea now, when did you leave?

4. What is your profession?

5. How old are you?

6. What is your gender?

7. How would you rate your Korean language ability on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being little or no ability, 5 being fluent, although not necessarily native-speaker proficiency)?

Part II: Korean Oral Literature and Culture

8. What do you think is the most prominent aspect of traditional Korean culture? (What first comes to mind when you think of traditional Korean culture?)

9. What do you think is the most prominent aspect of modern Korean culture? (What first comes to mind when you think of modern Korean culture?)

10. Please rate your familiarity with the following elements of traditional Korean oral literature on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = no familiarity / never heard of it, 2 = have heard of/about it, 3 = have seen/heard for myself once or twice, 4 = have seen/heard for myself on a number of occasions, 5 = enjoy or study on a regular basis).

1) Tales or stories (including folk tales, legends, and myths):

2) Folk songs:

3) Pansori (or changgeuk):

4) Mask dance:

5) Puppet play:

6) Shamanic songs / rituals:

7) Proverbs, riddles, or other sayings:

10b. If you answered 3 or higher to any of the above, what specific works are you familiar with, and where have you come into contact with them (for example, if you’ve seen a pansori performance, what work was it and where did you see it)?

11. What is the most prominent aspect of Korean oral literature or culture today?

And that’s all there is to it. Honestly, I have no idea if this is even going to work. I’ve never tried anything like this before. I will also be sending this survey to every foreign professor at my school (which may take a while, since there are a lot of foreign professors here—and I plan on personalizing each email), and my wife will be asking her students to participate as well. I’m hoping for the best, but I’m also prepared for this to be a wash—in other words, for not getting enough replies to be statistically significant. With your help, though, maybe I can avoid that fate.

When my research is completed, I will post an update with my findings (although this probably won’t happen until late August, early September). Thanks to everyone in advance!

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