Sharing some of the research field with oral literature, the Korean literature and folklore study have a closer relation with each other. This relation seems to have been based on the role played by the former for the latter's development until the folklore study has gained its academic status since the Korean Liberation in 1945. Thus, the early study in the folklore area naturally focussed on oral literature, folklore play, and folk religion, resulting in a group of scholars of folklore literature, or literary folklore who played the role faithfully.
Since 1960's, there emerged several academic associations and research institutes worthy of their names, among which Andong National University established the folklore department at the graduate and undergraduate level. This has made it possible that the study of folklore has been an independent field on its own from the supplementary position to the study of Korean history or literature. In spite of all this, it is still skeptical whether it has consolidated its own share of study or not. Especially in the field of oral literature, it is a serious situation if viewed from the folklore study, that Korean literature and folklore study have in common the same research history and researchers. In spite of the fact that the folklore study has begun in the situation where it was unavoidable to share with oral literature, now it is the time to invest the efforts to assure its independence by directing to distinct research methods and objectives.
To complement the above efforts, it is necessary to clarify the points at which sharing, splitting, and merging have begun. First of all, whenever the oral literature that the two fields share is at issue, the task is to find out how the approach justifies its academic identity and objectives. From the standpoint of Korean literature, the oral literature should be dealt with in terms of 'literature as folklore.' but from the standpoint of folklore, it should be in terms of 'folklore as literature.' The first should result in ethnography or folklore history, not in the characteristics or history of literature. At the same time, the approaches to study should be revalidated or rediscussed. Consquently, it should be our task to establish the approaches and objectives through the eyes of folklore study.
The questions such as, "How should we describe the ethnography of literature ?" or "Can we really explore the folklore history by means of oral literature?", would not be so simple as it seems. In other words, the play fields(as of story telling, songs, or plays), transmission fields, and the community should be the very foundation of description, and furthermore, oral literature should be noted as the act of literature and narratives performed in everyday life of the community, and this must be 'the reading' from the narrative culture in the particular community.
But the communities have undergone drastic changes through industrialization and urbanization, hence it has become difficult to find the spots where the act of oral literature is alive. Some field studies were prevailing in 1970's, but they were, in general, nothing but the data recorded on the spot to be only superficial study of oral literary works; they could not 'read' from the living literary texts and from the narrative culture of the community. At this time of difficulties, it is no exaggeration if we say that we have come to realize 'the missing' of the approaches. Now it is never too late to reconstruct the fields with the help of old people in their 70's or 80's, and with those frames, we should make an effort to 'read' the present variation and variables.
In this way of the two being splitted, they can be in continual complement in research. Ultimately, the two sides can sit at the same table to clarify human, society, and culture. This merging table will be sure to contribute not only to re-establish the Korean studies but also explain the history of national culture and people's life.