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Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways: Seoul-California Series in Korean Studies, Volume 1

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea
    Book Description:

    This book vividly traces the genealogy of modern womanhood in the encounters between Koreans and American Protestant missionaries in the early twentieth century, during Korea's colonization by Japan. Hyaeweol Choi shows that what it meant to be a “modern” Korean woman was deeply bound up in such diverse themes as Korean nationalism, Confucian gender practices, images of the West and Christianity, and growing desires for selfhood. Her historically specific, textured analysis sheds new light on the interplay between local and global politics of gender and modernity.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94378-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. A Note on Romanization and Translation
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. 1. Re-Orienting Gender
    (pp. 1-20)

    In 1938, to celebrate the fiftieth year of the Korea mission, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church published a book entitledFifty Years of Light.J.S. Ryang, the Korean general superintendent of the Korean Methodist Church, contributed the foreword, in which he stated:

    It was Mrs. Scranton’s pleasure to establish the first modern school for girls in all Korea. It was the pleasure of her followers to establish the first school for the blind, the first kindergarten for children, and the first women’s hospital. It was the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society that gave to Korea the...

  6. 2. Gender Equality, a New Moral Order
    (pp. 21-44)

    In his highly popular book entitledOur Country,prepared for the American Home Missionary Society in 1886, Josiah Strong confidently proclaimed that the Anglo-Saxon “is divinely commissioned” to lead the world. Strong based this claim on the argument that Anglo-Saxons were the bestqualified exponents of two great ideas: pure spiritual Christianity and civil liberty, both of which “have contributed most to the elevation of the human race.”¹ The role of Christianity in advancing humanity was evident in the enhanced status of women. Strong noted that the idea of honoring womanhood has “its root in the teachings of Christ, and has...

  7. 3. The Lure and Danger of the Public Sphere
    (pp. 45-85)

    One of the most shocking realities that early missionaries found in Korea was the seclusion of women. As Juldah Haening, a Methodist missionary, put it, “Korean young women are conspicuous by theirabsence” in the public space.¹ To American missionaries who were used to social gatherings and casual outings where women were free to participate without any special limitation or concession, the sequestered life of women was nothing less than a symbol of heathen oppression. More immediately, it presented a major “hindrance to the Gospel’s progress” because the conventions of strict gender segregation prevented the male missionaries from having access...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 4. Disciplining the Modern Body and Mind
    (pp. 86-120)

    A Christian Korean intellectual and educator, Yun Ch’i-ho, stated in 1918 that “if the Christian missionaries had accomplished nothing else in Korea, the introduction of female education alone deserves our lasting gratitude.”¹ This “lasting gratitude” shared by many Koreans has most significantly contributed to the image of American women missionaries as the pioneers of modern womanhood in Korea. Indeed, it was women missionaries who founded the first girls’ schools in Korean history, at a time when neither the Korean government nor private citizens paid any attention to female education. Those schools offered literacy training in Chinese, Korean, and English as...

  10. 5. Imagining the Other: Discursive Portraits in Missionary Fiction
    (pp. 121-144)

    There has been significant research that argues that colonial expansion was not merely a phenomenon “out there.” It was instrumental in constructing national identity, intellectual discourse, and the life of imagination in the metropole.¹ In a similar fashion, foreign missions were not just a phenomenon out there. Rather, they captured the American public’s fascination with stories of the exotic, “heathen” world, and served as an important cultural ground to feed the imagination of Americans and their identity as superior to the Other. In particular, as Patricia Hill points out, the romanticized image of foreign missions was “the focus of ambition...

  11. 6. Doing It for Her Self: Sin yŏsŏng (New Women) in Korea
    (pp. 145-176)

    The phenomenon of New Women[sin yŏsŏng]in the 1920s and 1930s marks a significant milestone showing Korea’s progress toward modernity that began in the late nineteenth century. The discourse on modern womanhood that had been dominated by male intellectuals began to be transformed by the first generation of educated women in the print media and urban space. It also started to reveal growing tensions between competing narratives put forward by Korean men and women intellectuals as they had more exposure to Western and Japanese modernity. In a significant way, the New Women were both the culmination of and a...

  12. 7. Conclusion: New Women, Old Ways
    (pp. 177-184)

    A few years ago I organized a bilingual reading by writers from Korea at my university. At that time, one of the invitees, a poet known for her feminist work, met our dean, an American woman professor. The poet told the dean that American women did not have any problem, while Korean women still had huge barriers to overcome. This rather casual exchange pointedly illustrates the enduring image of Western or American women as modern, liberated, and progressive—an image that is deeply engrained in the minds of Koreans. In comparison to the situation in Korea, there may be some...

  13. Abbreviations
    (pp. 185-186)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-246)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-270)
  16. Index
    (pp. 271-280)