This article examines the conceptual development of gaein (individual) as a modern subject in Korea in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods in order to analyze two different corpora: academic journal corpus (1896-1909) and Gaebyeok (Genesis) corpus (1920-1926). For this purpose, it focuses on the co-occurrence relations of gaein and other concepts, and builds a list of words that were frequently used near gaein in sentences. In addition, we have investigated in what context and for what reason the co-occurrences changed, and to what degree. By doing this, we found that the co-occurring rate of gaein with “state,” “law,” and “people,” decreased after the annexation of Korea by Japan, whereas the co-occurring rate with “society,” “nation,” “organization,” and “freedom” increased. We were able to conclude that while gaein was considered a member of a state in the enlightenment period, it developed into an economic and sociocultural subject in the 1920s.
This article examines the collective ritual known as sahoejang (public funeral) in order to trace the shifting concept of what was understood as society during the colonial period (1910-1945). Major sources of information include original newspaper articles and discursive materials on the funerals of Yu Gil-jun (1914), Kim Yun-sik (1922), Yi Sang-jae (1927), and Yi Seung-hun (1930). Thirteen other sahoejang that took place in various local communities between late 1920s and early 1940s are also briefly examined. In examining sahoejang, in terms of both their practice and discourse, I analyze the trajectory of fluid and changing imaginaries and concepts on social boundaries, about who has social membership, who has the right to represent the membership thus formed, and what is considered socially valuable. I argue first that the notion of society during the colonial period stimulated imaginations and expectations about collective subjectivity of the colonized, and second that collective subjectivity was expressed through the formation of voluntary organizations and activities, which led to social solidarity, rallying of public opinions and leveling of traditionally hierarchical authorities.
The term minjung (people) as it started to be used during the 1920s in Korea was defined as the “indefinite majority or all members of the nation” or the “subjugated class.” However, the emergence of the socialist movement resulted in the meaning of minjung becoming one rooted in two stages. Minjung came to include varied meanings such as the “majority of the nation,” “political actors,” and the “illiterates and proletarians” in 1920-1921, and started to contain socialist notions of class by 1922-1923. Accordingly, cultural movement activists, who had interpreted minjung on both idealist and realist levels, began to discuss the term based on the social development theory, focusing on how to actualize socialist idealism under a colonial reality. To this end, socialists started to prefer the vanguard-based notion of daejung (public) from 1925 onwards. The use of the term daejung was further expanded in the 1930s.
The Korean word haengbok 행복 (幸福in Chinese characters), meaning “happiness,” was newly coined during the state’s modern times. Haengbok and its rival terms hyangbok 향복 (享福in Chinese characters), meaning “bliss,” began to appear in usage from the Gabo Reform and was used sporadically, yet never established a clear usage nor acquired popularity among people until a turning point in 1910. Until then, haengbok had been mainly a statist term and rarely used in an individualized or private way, but in the 1910s, became popularly used, being associated with private intimacy differentiated from the public sphere on the one hand and with pleasure separated from labor and daily routine on the other hand. The colonial power of the 1910s and its media, the Maeil sinbo (Daily News), played a special role in the course of isolation and privatization of happiness in Korea. Colonial happiness began to be reappropriated in the midst of overwhelming new values such as freedom, justice, and humanity upheld in the March First Independence Movement of 1919, and during the early 1920s, it was widely used as a public and dynamic concept. The concept of happiness then took the path of introspection and privatization, and in this latter course there was no attempt to engage in active discourse on its individualization.
This article is a new historical account of the concept of gyoyang (mind cultivation, literally meaning “teaching and nurtureing”) from two perspectives. The first is that the long tradition of Confucian humanities has intervened in forming the contents and examples of gyoyang. In the modern era, the original concept of gyoyang and its long Asian traditions have become fused with the Western ideas of the humanities. The second is that the everyday entrenchment of the word gyoyang and the spread of gyoyang-ism stemmed from the people’s aspirations for enlightenment and education as well as demands for intellectual equality. The history of the concept of gyoyang is deeply related to that of gyoyang-ism or the cultural history of struggles surrounding symbols of knowledge. Based on such perspectives, this article reviews the uses of the concept of gyoyang in Korea during its colonial period and its evolution in five instances: (1) character building, (2) education, (3) capabilities to learn knowledge and culture, (4) basic and wide-ranging knowledge, and (5) civil maturity and proficiency in the humanities in the Western sense of the word.
Youth inactiveness has become a focal issue of public concern in South Korea. This study examines both macro- and micro-level factors that produce the growing trends of inactive youth and the problem of youth joblessness. At the macro-level, the dimension of labor demand is the most crucial factor in creating youth inactiveness, although the problem is also derived from the oversupply of overeducated youths as well as insufficient labor market policy and infrastructure. At the micro-level, our analysis addresses three remarkable points. First, under the gendered context of the Korean youth labor market, female youths, who are disadvantaged in the job opportunity structure, are found to attend job training programs for enhancing the condition of their labor market transition and the quality of their future jobs, rather than directly moving into the labor market through active job search. Second, high education for the purpose of further developing their employability leads jobless youths to become inactive, rather than becoming active job seekers. Finally, such household characteristics as family income and father’s socioeconomic status are reaffirmed to be significant factors influencing youth inactiveness.
The aim of this article is to examine how Lady Hyegyeong made use of a writing strategy in order to represent herself in her autobiography, Hanjungnok 閑中 (A Record of Sorrowful Days), as well as created her subject through it. Lady Hyegyeong employed her chosen strategies of seeking an approach compromising with men as well as choosing the morality of justice and rights in order to be accepted into the androcentric society to a certain extent. On the one hand, she adhered to her view, using representation strategy by referring to the trouble between her husband, Sado, the crown prince of the Joseon dynasty, and her father-in-law, King Yeongjo, as an unavoidable lunacy; on the other hand, she pursued political power by writing to resist suppressed reality. Therefore, it can be argued that Hanjungnok was written to achieve two purposes: intimation of the tragic event, the Incident of the Imo Year (1762), and acquirement of political authority. To this end, she utilized unified representation strategies combining femininity and masculinity. This article will demonstrate why a woman suppressed by traditional society denied the imposed silence and sought to write her autobiography.
This study explores the origin of Korean reformist intellectuals’ self-deprecating attitude towards their past, and these intellectuals’ viewpoints of the seemingly contrasting values of munmyeong gaehwa 文明開化(civilization and enlightenment) and of the nation. Concerning the origin of the reformists’negative view of their past, a number of scholars have ascribed it to the effects of social Darwinism. This study, however, finds it in the modern conception of time and specifically in the Enlightenment’s progressive view of time. This view of time prompted the reformist intellectuals to place more weight on the future than the past. The past was regarded as the state of being less developed and less progressed and the present as the time to be devoted to accomplish an enlightened future. The Korean reformist intellectuals’ negative view of their past arose from this conception of time. This notion of time provided the reformists with a deontological view of munmyeong gaehwa. However, they did not pursue munmyeong gaehwa at the expense of national independence. Contrary to previous studies, this study proposes that most of the reformist intellectuals balanced between the two values at least until the 1890s. In order to analyze these points, this study draws on the discourse of Dongnip sinmun (The Independent).