Identifying and Mapping Issues, Theories, & Research in Asian/American Rhetoric(s): An Annotated Bibliography

Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Yoo, Sun Young. “Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea.” Francis Lee Dae Hoon trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Yoo Sun-Young provides an account of the conditions that allowed for a Korean embrace of American modernity, focusing on the body as a marker of modernity. Of vital impact was the Japanese Occupation of South Korean (hereafter Korea) from 1910 to 1945. Yoo explains that at this time, Korea saw the United States as an ideal representation of modernity, and in the “imaginary/fantastic dimension, America was conceived as the richest nation in the world as well as a gentleman-like brotherly nation that had no intention to occupy, but rather help weak countries to achieve independence, as the most powerful nation in the capitalist world, as the birthplace of Modernism, and as a benefactor to Chosun” (230). “[T]he missionary work by American churches recorded an unprecedented success in colonial Korea, which further promoted the image of America as a benefactor and contributor of Korea’s modernization” (230). At this time, American modernity was inscribed on Korea’s colonial body: “The individual modernization under colonial circumstance was confined to, and carried on, the body level” (225) though heterosexual relationships, individual speech manners, and walking style and bodily movements. In the context of the modernization of the school system in Korea, students “were required to have short hair, formerly a strong taboo in Korea, as well as to replace traditional clothing and footwear with western-style uniforms, hats and shoes. In this context, bodily changes either preceded or concurred with changes in consciousness, rather than the other way around” (227).

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‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Cho, Han Hae-Joang. “‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture.” Michael Shin trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Cho discusses how the notion of “turbo capitalism,” originally used to describe the rapid swell of capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, can also be used to describe the basis for Korean economic success, at the expense of what Cho considers a cultural loss. Cho contends that turbo capitalism has in effect left Korea with superficial cultures as well as an “overwhelming individual adaptability to the status quo” (294), essentially functioning as a neo-colonial ideological structure. In discussing the formation of subjectivity in Korea, Cho also argues that Korean conceptions of patriotism, as displayed in the official discourse where “the nation, the state and the people are one and the same” (Cho 300), is contrary to individualistic philosophies of the West, and is a cause for conflict between the community (nation/family) and the individual.