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

The Poet’s Ethics and Persona as Practitioner: The Korean Poetic Response to Colonialism in the 1930s

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.2, pp.242-271
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.2.242

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Abstract

Before the rise of brutal fascism in the 1930s, European authors fought to defend selfrespect, and to resist fear and violence and claim the rights of conscience. Their struggle was a spiritual revolution based on human justice and the emergence of authorial ethics. The poets Jeong Ji-yong, Baek Seok, and Yun Dong-ju discussed in this article were poets who fiercely answered the ethical question of how poets should live, and what they should write as poet-intellectuals of colonial Korea. Though they could not fight physically, they countered with spiritual power the forces of irrational and inexorable fascism. Through their works, they demonstrated the aesthetic choice of presenting the human image as the subject of the artist’s ethics, crossing between the West and the East, tradition and modernity, religion and culture. They performed the task given to the artist through a fictitious person, a persona, an aesthetic practitioner. The achievements of these three poets, who persistently questioned and explored the ethical meaning of poetry and the poet through their works, are clearly differentiated from their contemporaries. In addition, their choice clearly demonstrated the reality of the violent policies of imperialism facing a colony such as Korea, which differed from the anti-fascist struggle of Europe, while reestablishing the historicity of language and the literary task of colonial writers who had lost their national sovereignty.

keywords
Jeong Ji-yong Baek Seok Yun Dong-ju fascism Japanese imperialism aesthetic practitioner persona ethics of the writer ethics of responsibility

Korea Journal