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Imperatives of Culture

Imperatives of Culture

Christopher P. Hanscom
Walter K. Lew
Youngju Ryu
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    Imperatives of Culture
    Book Description:

    "Imperatives of Cultureis a landmark in bringing important Korean texts from the colonial period into the English-speaking world. Intellectuals and writers who were central to debates over Korean identity and culture-which in the 1930s and 1940s the Japanese were trying to eradicate-illumine with insight and often brilliance the dilemmas of an ancient nation captured by a curiously 'late' (or late-coming) twentieth-century imperialism. These essays also cast their reflection down to the present, as divided Korea enters its seventh decade. This book rewards multiple readings and will be most useful in the classroom." -Bruce Cumings, Chair, Department of History, University of Chicago"Here, finally, for the first time in English we have in one volume the signature voices of many of Korea's pioneering modernists of the colonial era in their own words and in all their stunning diversity and complexity. Together with the excellent introductions that accompany the original essays, these translations are a gift to all seeking to understand Korea in the larger context of twentieth-century modernity." -Carter J. Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard UniversityThis volume contains translations-many appearing for the first time in the English language-of major literary, critical, and historical essays from the colonial period (1910-1945) in Korea. Considered representative of the debates among Korean and between Korean and Japanese intellectuals of the colonial period, these texts shed light on relatively unexplored aspects of colonial intellectual life and take part in current conversations around the nature of the colonial experience and its effects on post-liberation Korean society and culture.The essays, each preceded by a scholarly introduction giving necessary historical and biographical context, represent a diverse spectrum of ideological positions and showcase the complexity of intellectual life and scholarship in colonial Korea. They allow new perspectives on an important period in Korean history, a period that continues to inform political, social, and cultural life in crucial ways across East Asia. The translations also provide an important counterpoint to the imperial archive from the perspective of the colonized and take part in the ongoing reevaluation of the colonial period and "colonial modernity" in both Western and East Asian scholarship.Imperatives of Cultureis intended in part for the increasing number of undergraduate and graduate students in Korean studies as well as for those engaged in the study of East Asia as a whole and a general, educated audience with interests in modern Korea and East Asia. The essays have been carefully selected and introduced in ways that open up avenues for comparison with analyses of colonial literature and history in other national contexts.Christopher P. Hanscomis an assistant professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.Walter K. Lewis the author of Treadwinds: Poems and Intermedia Texts and a study on the work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.Youngju Ryuis an assistant professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3904-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    John Duncan

    It is hard to find the words to express my delight that this important anthology is finally going to press. Some years back, Christopher Hanscom, then a PhD student in Korean literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, approached me with an idea about a project that would have our graduate students translate a number of essays by major Korean thinkers of the colonial period. Chris and I spent some time going through various colonial-era publications and subsequent compilations of essays, most notably the 1972 edition of theAnthology of Renowned Essays of Modern Korea(Han’guk hyŏndae myŏng nonsŏl...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxii)

    The colonial era (1910–1945) was a difficult time in Korean history. As national sovereignty was lost the imperative to clarify cultural identity became ever more important. The translations collected in this volume span a wide range of topics, disciplines, and ideological positions, a diversity that reflects the thought and expression characteristic of the period. These pieces, originally published in some of the most prestigious and widely circulated periodicals of the 1920s and 1930s, have been selected in part to indicate the breadth and depth of cultural production during a period when Korean-language publications flourished and the working out of...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Yi Kwangsu
    (pp. 1-28)

    Yi Kwangsu (1892–1950), arguably Korea’s most prominent colonial intellectual, was a figure whose life was inextricably linked to the changing tides of international politics as they played out in East Asia.¹ He is triply famous, first for penningHeartless(Mujŏng, 1917), remembered as Korea’s first modern novel; second for being one of the student drafters of the February 8 Declaration of Independence, which sparked the March First Movement; and third for becoming a Japanese collaborator from 1939. The controversy surrounding Yi Kwangsu’s story is not exceptional, but it does illustrate the difficult situation of the colonial elite whose “location...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Sin Paegu
    (pp. 29-41)

    “Urging the Vanguard of Social Movements to Come Forward” was published in the first and second issues of the magazineNew Life(Sinsaenghwal).New Lifewas one of several leftist journals launched in the early 1920s, when, in the aftermath of the March First Movement, the Japanese colonial government established its “cultural policy” (munhwa chŏngch’i; J.bunka seiji) and briefly loosened restrictions on organizational and publishing activities. Many journals that started publishing in this period—such as, for example,Creation(Kaebyŏk), which became a major intellectual journal in the 1920s—frequently contained radical socialist ideas.¹ However, whileCreationencompassed both...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Mun Ilp’yŏng
    (pp. 42-63)

    Mun Ilp’yŏng (1888–1939), pen name Hoam, was a historian, teacher, journalist, and one of the few male writers to address women’s issues for a primarily male intellectual readership during the colonial era. His writings on women are thus of great interest, and yet they remain overshadowed by Mun’s important contributions on other subjects. In many ways, his views were typical of male intellectuals of his generation, but the large body of writings he left behind grants us a unique opportunity to chart the evolution of his views concerning the changing societal perspective on gender relations, especially with the rise...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Ch’oe Namsŏn
    (pp. 64-87)

    Along with Yi Kwangsu (1892–1950) and Hong Myŏnghŭi (1888–1968), Ch’oe Namsŏn (pen name Yuktang, 1890–1957) is considered one of the three “geniuses” of colonial Chosŏn.¹ Yet, unlike Yi or Hong, Ch’oe received little attention by scholars in Korea for decades after the colonial period, despite having been one of the most prolific and prominent intellectuals of the time.² One reason may be the vast scope of his work, which spans the fields of literature, history, folkloric studies, Buddhism, and geography, among others.

    Another possible reason for the belated scholarly interest in Ch’oe is that he is considered...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Chŏng Inbo
    (pp. 88-103)

    Chŏng Inbo (1893–1950?) was born in Seoul and was known by the pen name Tamwŏn, athough he often went by his artistic pen name, Widang. In 1910, when Chŏng was seven, Korea was annexed by Japan. That same year, he began to study under Yi Kŏnbang (1861–1939), a renowned Confucian scholar who specialized in Wang Yangming learning. Chŏng then visited Kando¹ in 1911. He moved there with his mother in 1912, but stayed only a short time because a season of disastrous harvests forced him to return to Korea. Going abroad to Shanghai to study in 1912, he...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Paek Namun
    (pp. 104-131)

    Paek Namun was born on February 11, 1894, in Koch’ang County, North Chŏlla Province.¹ He began his formal education at the Suwŏn School of Agriculture and Forestry (Suwŏn Nongnim Hakkyo).² After graduating in 1915, he taught for a time at the Kanghwa Public Normal School (Kanghwa Kongnip Pot’ong Hakkyo) before resigning in 1918 to resume his studies. Paek entered the Tokyo University of Business Administration (present-day Hitotsubashi University) in 1919 and studied there with a number of notable liberal economics scholars. During his time in Japan, he also began to study Marx and Engels’ early writings. Soon after his return...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Kang Kyŏngae
    (pp. 132-153)

    Unlike other well-known women writers of her time, Kang Kyŏngae (1906–1944) came from a humble socio-economic background. Born April 20, 1906, in Songhwa, Hwanghae Province, she was the daughter of a farm laborer who died while Kang was three. Two years later, her mother remarried an elderly invalid who offered some financial stability at an exacting price: Kang and her mother lived like servants, at the mercy of this man and his children, with whom Kang fought on a near daily basis. Despite these hardships Kang learned to read, and her literary talents and interests were evident from an...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Kim Kirim
    (pp. 154-164)

    Poet, critic, and literary theorist Kim Kirim (1908–?; given name Kim Inson; pen names G. W., P’yŏnsŏkch’on) played a major role in the directions taken by modern Korean poetry from the 1930s onward. These included developments away from what Kim saw as the previous decade’s vague sentimentalism and self-absorption and toward new constructivist and other avant-garde techniques, modernism’s materialist belief in the objective structure of language, and dedication to the integration of feeling and progressive cultural critique. His poems were first collected inWeather Chart(Kisangdo, 1936) andCustoms of the Sun(T’aeyang ŭi p’ungsok, 1939). His equally influential...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Ch’oe Chaesŏ
    (pp. 165-180)

    Ch’oe Chaesŏ (1908–1964),¹ a well-known and prolific literary critic, graduated from Keijō Imperial University (now Seoul National University) with a degree in English literature in 1931, the same year that he began publishing literary criticism.² Ch’oe completed graduate school at Keijō Imperial University in 1933, was appointed a lecturer there, and continued to publish articles in the mid-1930s on American and European literature along with translations of authors such as James Joyce. He advocated the establishment of a theory of intellectualism in modern literature and introduced Korean readers to the works and ideas of T. E. Hulme, T. S....

  15. CHAPTER 10 Kim Namch’ŏn
    (pp. 181-196)

    Born Kim Hyosik in South P’yŏngan Province, Kim Namch’ŏn (1911–1955?) was a literary critic and fiction writer best known for his active involvement in the KAPF (Korea Artista Proleta Federacio; Chosŏn P’ŭrollet’aria Yesul Tongmaeng). In the span of some twenty years between his first published essay on the bolshevization of cinema (1930) and his last fictional work detailing the experiences of a North Korean soldier (1951), Kim Namch’ŏn remained prolific, producing nearly fifty works of fiction, several plays, numerous articles of literary criticism, and even exegeses of selected writings by Lenin and Gorky. Like many other writers of his...

  16. CHAPTER 11 Kim Tongni
    (pp. 197-208)

    Kim Tongni (1913–1995), the author of “The True Meaning of Pure Literature” and “A Personal Opinion on Writing Literature,” is among the best known of Korean fiction writers. With such widely read works as “The Shaman Painting” (Munyŏdo, 1936), “Legend of Yellow Earth” (Hwangt’ogi, 1939), and “Post-Horse Curse” (Yŏngma, 1948), he created a unique world of mysticism and folklore by drawing on the native traditions of Korea. At a time when the Korean literary world was split between modernist and realist tendencies, these works opened a new realm of literature distinct from both.

    Kim Tongni was born in Kyŏngju,...

  17. CHAPTER 12 Son Chint’ae
    (pp. 209-220)

    The preface to his seminal work,Introduction to the History of the Korean Nation(Chosŏn minjoksa kaeron, 1948), is Son Chint’ae’s manifesto for a new Korean history free from what he repeatedly criticizes as the monarchism (wangsil chuŭi) and aristocentrism (kwijok chuŭi) of previous historiography. A pioneer of Korean folklore history, Son Chint’ae (pen name Namch’ang) was born on December 28, 1900, in Tongnae, South Kyŏngsang Province. He entered Waseda University in 1921 with the support of a Korean benefactor. He was intellectually influenced by his advisor, the Japanese historian and anthropologist Nishimura Shinji (1879–1943).¹ Son was an original...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 221-224)
  19. Index
    (pp. 225-232)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-235)