The Lives of Sungkyunkwan Scholars – Volume 1

Published October 12, 2013 by pink sapphire

Recently, I read “The Lives of Sungkyunkwan SAcholars” yet again.

“The Lives of Sungkyunkwan Scholars” is a Korean novel from which the Korean drama” Sungkyunkwan Scandal” was based on. I had read both the Chinese and English translations of the novel available on the internet. They are not complete translations though, with many parts left out. But they are still interesting and addictive to read. As I’m more comfortable with the English translation, I read this version many times.

What I like about reading the text as compared to watching the video is that I can read the thoughts of the protagonists which I can’t by watching the drama. This really helped me to understand the characters better and made me really feel more in tune to their emotions and be brought along as they swing up and down. Moreover, conjuring up the scenes in my mind brings me into another dimension altogether.

Lee Son Joon in the novel is more polite and rational, always the well-mannered scholar, not showing much of his feelings and emotions in front of others. But he is also more passionate and hot-blooded towards his love when the truth was out. In the translated version, he had never been harsh to Yoon Hee or turned her away even when he wanted to stop himself from loving her. He just bore with it all quietly, longing for her at the same time. It’s interesting to read how he had reacted to and was increasingly attracted to the various expressions of feminine vibes given off by Yoon Hee unconsciously. I can really empathise with him as he finds himself tortured by the thoughts of loving another man as a woman.

Kim Yoon Hee in the novel is more humble with less pride. She decided on her own to sit for the tests to get a qualification so that she can earn a more money in doing written work for others. She met Lee Son Joon for the first time when both of them went to the same centre to sit for their first test. As in the drama, she kissed Lee Son Joon first though in a different situation. She kissed him in his sleep when her identity was still not known to him. She was also the one that encouraged Son Joon to ignore the rules of man and follow his desires with her.

There are a few scenes in the novel where the content may not be suitable for younger and innocent readers. There is a  scene where Son Joon was naked when he changes his clothes, another scene where the boys talk about sexual positions, as well as the scene where Son Joon realizes that Yoon Hee is a woman and they gave their bodies to each other.  However, the descriptions are not graphic.

Moon Jaeshin and Gu Yongha are like how they were depicted in the drama. Just that Yongha is a bit more irritating in the novel where he had intentionally/unintentionally ruined many loving and potentially loving moments between the protagonists.

What I am not satisfied with the novel is that it did no’t end with an officially recognized marriage between the two of them. I could not find any translations of the second volume of the novel where they worked for the King. I hope that they will live happily ever after as man and wife accepted by his father and perhaps the King.


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