On Yeung Hong (Jin Yong)

*Written by spcnet

I was reading the other day at another site how an author will often veer the reader to feeling the way he does about a character, often just seeing one side of the picture or argument. The author has rights, and it is in his/her rights, to place a subjective standpoint and try to convince the reader to also see, if not believe, in it too. However, as the reader, we must try to be objective and watch for those pitfalls. I can not help but think of Yeung Hong (Yueng Gor's father) in Jin Yong's novel, "The Legend of the Condor Heroes" or a.k.a "The Shooting Condor Heroes" and consider whether he is as "evil" as he is reputed to be.

In "Legend of the Condor Heroes", the two young main characters are Kwok Jing ("good") and Yeung Hong ("evil"). The first argument a person would argue is that Yeung Hong is "evil" because he didn't acknowledge his true birth father and instead, as we say in a chinese proverb, "ying tok jok fu" (recognizing a crook as father). Everyone wanted him to kill his adopted father, Yuen Gon Hong Lit, because Yuen is of the "Gum" race and wanted to take over China. When Yueng Hong refused to kill his adopted father--which is reasonable after all those years of raising him (I would even say it's more dishonorable for him to kill his adopted father since Yuen treated him like his own child no less)--everyone deemed him as a "Han-traitor".

Just like Yeung Hong, Kwok Jing was also father-less and probably the closest father figure would be the Mongolian Genghis Khan, Sing Gut Si Han. Toward the latter part of the novel, Genghis Khan clearly wasn't satisfied with the land he had and wanted to invade into Chinese soil. Kwok Jing had several chances to kill him but refrained from doing so because he wanted to repay for those years of upbringing and for taking care of his mother. It was for the same reason that Yeung Hong refused to kill Yuen yet, in our minds, Kwok Jing is somehow more righteous.

One could again argue that Yeung Hong did not want to give up his wealthy life-style and thus did not want to kill Yuen but to think of it in a different light, Yueng Hong was more or less conditioned by his environment. His environment, which includes everything surrounding him while growing up, contained tremendous wealth and power and to ask someone to give that up suddenly is certainly very hard. Kwok Jing was brought up with different ideals and a set of strict morals than that of Yeung Hong and to ask Kwok to give up those ideals would also be almost an impossibility on him. It was just to Kwok Jing's luck that those ideals were also what society on the majority holds as "good." Kwok Jing may be more "good" in the novel but this case--concerning Yeung Hong and Yuen--which the novel makes to seem like a very big deal, does not really apply.

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