Recontextualizing a Korean traditional
folk tale, ‘Princess Bari’

Participitory Practice

I first read a book called Princess Bari at the age of five. It quickly became my favorite story - the book is well-worn and filled with notes on the margins. This story is originally an oral folk tale from Korea about an orphaned girl who is subjected to multiple layers of oppression and is asked to perform acts of devotion to the ideology of patriarchy. To this day, this folktale is required reading for many elementary school students in Korea, a practice which indoctrinates young girls in systemic oppression. The departure point for my project is the recreation of the Princess Bari story with the aim to re-contextualize historical women’s domestic exploitation in Korea, in the U.S., and around the world. Through changing the narrative of a Korean folk tale, a community of women can reflect on their own experiences, break down internalized patriarchy, and create a space to liberate themselves by their own hand.


Part I


Part II


Part III

South Korean women were able to reevaluate and rewrite the traditional folktale of ‘Princess Bari,’ which is being reproduced into different mediums and being read by young students as part of required reading lists to this day. Through a re-reading and re-contextualization of a book about oppression towards women, participants empathized with Bari in the story and in the real world, empowered one another, and enacted social change through their own agency. I wish to continue developing this project with different groups in the U.S. and marriage immigrants in Korea, and to invite those who are still silently suffering from domestic exploitation and stereotypes of women to modernize a Korean oral folktale.