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

Confessions and Dialogues of Colonial Intellectuals from Feminist Perspectives: Im Sun-deuk’s Short Stories during the Late Period of Japanese Colonial Rule

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2019, v.59 no.3, pp.79-103
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2019.59.3.79
(Georgetown University)
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Abstract

This paper examines Im Sun-deuk’s two short stories, “Iryoil” (Sunday, 1937) and “Nazuke oya” (A Godmother, 1942). Im, an active participant in Korea’s socialist movement in the 1930s, turned to literature as her career at a time when Japanese colonial authorities had tightened their control over Korea to further the Japanese empire’s colonial expansion into China. In the process, the Japanese implemented an assimilation policy to mobilize the Korean people into the Japanese war effort. By employing the concept of confession in “Iryoil” and “Nazuke oya,” Im projects an autobiographical self onto her protagonists, both of whom are modern women striving to preserve their identities as socially conscious intellectuals committed to nationalism, socialism, and feminism. By positioning her protagonists as confessors to other characters in the texts, Im’s short stories portray intellectuals in colonial Korea as in conflict or harmony with her protagonists. Im’s protagonists embody female subjects who find a new kind of womanhood under Japanese colonial rule. However, in “Nazuke oya,” Im’s protagonist displays a more flexible and open attitude toward Koreans with attitudes and beliefs different from her own. In this sense, the act of confession as presented in Im’s texts is an attempt to build a bond and sense of community among the Korean people from a woman’s perspective, and at a time when Korean identity risked becoming obsolete.

keywords
Korea literature Japanese colonialism modernity nationalism colonial intellectual gender feminism

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