Classical Literature Classical literature of Jeju can be traced back to the Goryeo Dynasty, but it is mostly from the Joseon era. Early Joseon had many works about exile, and exile literature was kept alive until the end of the dynasty. Late Joseon saw the influx of Confucianist culture and Confucian literature began to form primarily around scholars from Jeju. Jeju Confucians have been cultivated through the education system of Jeju and the institutional support called Byeolsil which provided training and bolstering of local talent. The unique customs and culture of Jeju could not be seen on the mainland and this attracted a lot of attention from scholars there. Meanwhile, there was a lot of driftage from the island's ocean, and such unique experiences were expressed in literature.
Scholars in Jeju became officials by learning Confucianism. Goh Jo Gi (1085-1157) was the most prominent figure of the Goryeo era, and Goh Deuk Jong (1389-1460) and Goh Tae Pil (15th Century) were of the Joseon era. Education in Jeju became more active and as an exchange between those exiled increased, Jeju scholars improved further. Some became officials through Jeju envoys in the later Joseon period. The late Joseon era saw a trend of escaping the island to seek teachers. An Dal Sam (1837-1886), Lee Gye Jing, and Ahn Byeong Taek (1861-1936) sought out the old master Ki Jeong Jin (1789-1879), Kim Hee Jeong (1884-1936) sought out Choi Ik Hyeon (1833-1907), and Ko Byeong Oh (1899-1972) and Kim Gyeong Jong (1888-1962) learned from Ganjae Jeonwoo (1841-1922). Jeju's Yurim literary activity was founded on such Confucian teachings and continued to grow, and we can confirm through the writing they have left.
There are three factors to the development of Yurim in Jeju. First is the formation of Jeju's education system. The most renowned education institutes of Jeju were Hyang Gyo, Gyulimseowon, Samseongsa Temple, and Samcheonsodang. Second is the exchange between those exiled to Jeju. Jeju people saw this opportunity to learn Neo-Confucianism from these scholars. Last is the test system in Jeju. This test is often used by a royal inspector to visit Jeju and choose a pupil. Through this many Jeju people were able to ascend to government offices.
While Yurim likely grew fast in many parts of Jeju, most of the attention is currently on the writers who studied under Maegye Lee Han Woo. An Dal Sam and Lee Gye Jing under Maegye learned from the Nosa Ki Jeong Jin in Jangseong, Jeolla-do, while Kim Hee Jeong learned from Myeonam Choi Ik Hyun, who had been exiled to Jeju. Thus under Maegye, the schools of Nosa and Hwaseo have met.
Meanwhile Buhae Ahn Byeong Taek, the son of Han Dal Sam, was actively engaging in education in the Jeollado region. Many scholars in Jeju learned from him, and figures like Sim Jae and Kim Seon Ik grew into prominent scholars at the time.
After the departure ban was lifted in the mid 19th Century, many scholars went to the mainland to study. While Ganjae Jeon Woo was active in enducation in Gyehwado Jeollado at this time, figures such as Kim Kyung Jong and Goh Byeong Oh were from Jeju.
Jeju had been an island of exiles from the Goryeo period to the Joseon period. As the government of Joseon became more authoritarian, exilement to Jeju became more frequent. Kim Jeong (1607-1689), Jung On (1569-1641), Gwang Hae Gun (1575 - 1641), Song Si Yeol (1607-1689), Jo Jang Chul (1751-1831), Kim Jung Hee (1786-1856), and Kim Yoon Sik (1835-1922) were some of the diverse collection of people who were exiled for various reasons. Exile for these people meant pain and despair, but it was an opportunity for the people of Jeju to experience the culture of the peninsula. Many exiled people left their literary work in Jeju. Jung On, Jo Jang Chul, and Kim Jung Hee were some of those expressed the beautiful nature, unique culture of Jeju, and the desires of exiles in their poetry. Kim Jung and Lee Gun (1614-1662) recorded the natural life of Jeju. An Jo Hwan's Manunsa and Kim Choon Taek's (1670-1717) Byeolsa Miingok are poems the represent life in exile.
The peninsula saw Jeju as a space where difficult realities and beautiful imagination coexisted. Baekho Im Jae (1549 - 1587) and Chungeum Kim Sang Hun (1570-1652) discussed the many hardships of traveling through Jeju in their poems Nammyunsoseung and Namsarok. Stories of Samsunghyul, Hallasan, Udo, and Nohin castle garner interest about the island. Experiences of Jeju people being swept away abroad by the ocean are the highlight of adventure literature. Pyohaerok by Jang Han Chul (1744-?) and Pyohaega by Lee Bang Ik (1756-?) explicitly describe what it's like to find oneself visiting distant places and experiencing new cultures with no intent.