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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Paradoxical Structure of Modern "Love" in Korea: Yeonae and Its Possibilities

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2005, v.45 no.3, pp.185-208

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Abstract

Yeonae, a common word in 20th century East Asia, was a new term that was introduced via the West. Yeonae has a longer history as a term that specifically referred to romantic love between young men and women, but its potential as a broader term referring to love in general was limited by the social circumstances of the time. Love began to be legitimized as a social value with the arrival of Christianity, and its legitimization was confirmed in the explosion of patriotism in the 1890s and 1900s. Yeonae developed along with this legitimization of love, and it stimulated changes in mentality, discourse, and social customs. First, yeonae was considered a limited and conditioned passion that was necessary for nationalism, but through the 1910s, yeonae was explored as a new strategy for the exaltation of private life. Yeonae was founded on the authority of self, subjectivity, and sensibility, and was expressed at the level of social activities and relations. Yeonae connected the dynamics of self to the revolutionary power that was challenging the old order of Confucianism and family. Important changes, especially on the micro level, were made possible with the popularization of love. However, yeonae implied contradictory motivations, such as the absolutism of self and the glorification of love, antipathy to the old family structure and hopes for a new one, and it was ultimately exhausted when it failed to derive energy from that complexity itself.

keywords
love yeonae patriotism Christianity the public the private individuality family free marriage free yeonae love yeonae patriotism Christianity the public the private individuality family free marriage free yeonae

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