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

The Transnational Imagination and Historical Geography of 21st Century Korean Novels

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2007, v.47 no.1, pp.50-78
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2007.47.1.50

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Abstract

This paper sheds light on the characteristics and significance of historical geography in 21st century Korean novels. While drawing on the idea of imaginary geography in peripheral areas including todays Vietnam and Mexico in the twentieth century, Korean novels can be read as a literary form of Koreans sense of self-expansion as a country that can no longer be called Third World. Furthermore, the paper notes that this transnational imagination coincides with the attitude that the 38th parallel is the true national border. Empire of Lightby Kim Young-ha tells the story of a North Korean spy who becomes a legitimate citizen of the Republic of Korea, whereas Rina features a woman who refusesto be a Korean national. Appearing in opposition to each other, the two novels are driven by the paradigmatic shift from minjok togungmin.The transnational imagination presented in both Black Flowerand Sim Cheong set in the early twentieth century laments the end of themasculine subject in modernity, through the combination of global capitalism and female sexuality. The gender politics in these books express the end of the modern masculine subject formed from the masculine alliance of the working class and peasants on the one hand, while concealing capital-male domination on the other.

keywords
Korean novel historical geography transnational diaspo-ra the 38th parallel modern masculine subject from minjok togung-min Kim Young-ha Empire of Light Hwang Suk-young Sim Cheong Rina Kang Yeong-suk

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