Realist playwright Cha Beom-seok’s name is synonymous with the Korean stage. Despite a significant body of work, his 1962 play Forest Fire has attracted the most attention achieving both critical and commercial acclaim during the socio-economically difficult time that was post-war South Korea. Academic work on Cha’s writing naturally focuses on the realist elements of his plays, although a number of studies focus on thematic elements of anti-communism across his plays due to the trend of nationalistic writing that stressed anti-communist rhetoric in the post-war years. Despite this interpretation, there is also a significant amount of evidence that points towards a more balanced, anti-war stance especially relating to Forest Fire. This work explores a number of ways in which Cha presents anti-war views rather than attacking a particular ideology, such as his exploration of distrust and suspicion as a symptom of ideological conflict on village dynamics, war’s destructive effects on human beings abilities of feel love and sexual fulfillment, and also the way in which the stage and set design can be used to convey his views on the effects that the war had on Koreanness.
This article investigates the sympathetic translation strategies employed in Ssangongnu (Jade Tears), translated from Japanese into Korean by Jo Jung-hwan. The story was serialized in Maeil sinbo (Daily News) from 1912 to 1913. The original text is Onogatsumi (My Sin), written by Kikuchi Yuho. This study employs the concepts of “East Asian cultural communication” and “cultural translation” as analytical tools to examine how Ssangongnu deals with asymmetry vis-à-vis the original language, cultural conventions, and emotional representations. It also examines how the original text was restructured to reflect the generic conventions, narrative grammar patterns, closing structure, and sentimental structures of traditional Korean fiction. By reconsidering the characteristics of Maeil sinbo and the context of modernization, it explores how the translator drew attention to unfamiliar emotional language used in the original text to convey such emotions as guilt, hysteria, and self-defining love and also engaged in such topics as child murder and mental illness, which were less familiar to Korean readers. This article argues that on one hand, the translation of Ssangongnu evidences East Asia’s rapid accumulation of experiences of cultural translation both at home and abroad (the West) whereas on the other, the translator’s recognition of “non-Joseon things” indicates what the people of the day might have identified as “indigenous things.”
What did the postcolonial mean in Korea? Focusing on the transitional period between the end of the Japanese colonial period and the establishment of the Cold War system, this paper explores a variety of discursive and media spaces—hearsay, rumors, leaflets, rallies, reportage, and roundtable talks—through which Koreans attempted to translate and transform colonial forms of language and interaction into new postcolonial entities. By examining immediate post-Liberation publications like Baengmin, Munhwa Joseon, Joseon munhak, Munhak yesul, Sincheonji, Minseong, and others, I ask the following questions. First, how were Japanese forms of language and interaction translated into Korean within this intermediate historical space? Second, how did this process of translation intersect with the rapid postcolonial proliferation of alternative media and discursive spaces like hearsay, rumors, leaflets, rallies, reportage, and roundtable talks? Third, to what extent did these new forms of interaction and address operate within the temporal (past vs. future), spatial (south vs. north), and ideological (left vs. right or our side vs. their side) frameworks and clashes? By asking these questions, I hope to show how the meaning of the postcolonial in Korea was formed through a dynamic process of translation where the boundaries of the new and the old, the true and the false, and the political left and right crisscross.
What are the implications of a Starbucks bag tied on a tree as an offering to village gods or a Buddhist chant intoned in place of a shamanic invocation? This article re-considers the cultural meanings of practical material changes in Jeju shamanism in relation to its rapid urbanization since the early 2000s. Though often romanticized as an idyllic rural paradise or a bastion of shamanic practice, Jeju City has grown into a large complex and cosmopolitan city with constant access to international markets. Urban change had a profound impact on Jeju shamanism in every aspect. Once purely region- and community-specific, shamanic rituals, despite their decline in the depopulating countryside, have seen in some aspects an accidental vitality that came with urban interactions. Mainland Korean and foreign goods grace altars and the changed pace of life prompts practitioners to adopt new forms to keep old meanings. This article observes that as rural communities proactively maintain shamanic rites, they hardly are passive recipients of new things and ideas from the city that looms large over them. Although numbers of rural shrine worshippers are indeed declining, where rituals remain pertinent to local communities, Jeju shamanism’s interactions with urbanization demonstrate significant, and sometimes accidental, dynamism.
This article examines how the Korean Daoism of the 19th century developed from three religious organizations: Three key elements will be examined in this study: the expansion of the worship of Guanwoo, the importance of gangpil and gameung, and the publication of Daoist books through the religious organization Musangdan. This article will firstly examine how Guanwoo belief was systemized by the Joseon government and show its prevalence in the 19th century. It will secondly call attention to the importance of gangpil and gameung. Thirdly, it will look at the publication of a wide range of Daoist scriptures in the Joseon dynasty. In the 20th century, new Korean religions required a heightened racial consciousness and a stronger national identity. Among the new religions, “Daejongyo,” which was active in the resistance movement against Japan in Manchuria during the period of Japanese colonial rule, is a representative example. New religions, namely, ethno-national faiths, made Guanwoo the major God and actively accepted the use of spells and talismans. These characteristics imply that new religions should receive attention as a continuation of folk Daoism in the late Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), and not as a new type of religion which suddenly appeared. The origins of new religions in the latter era of the Joseon dynasty can be found in folk Daoism. They then continued to develop over the latter part of the Joseon dynasty and the early 20th century, while their folk Daoist heritage also continued to exert a great effect on the ideological and ritualistic composition of each new religion.
The so-called “comfort women” issue includes two dozen controversial issues that are both practically and academically important. Two related important issues are: whether or not most Koreans were aware of the forceful mobilization of many young Korean women to Japanese military brothels in the post-war period (1946-1989); and whether or not the Japanese military used the jeongsindae (the Korean word for “voluntary labor corps”) as a mechanism for forcefully mobilizing young Korean “comfort women.” Korean redress movement readers and a few scholars have given affirmative answers to both questions, mainly using articles published in Korean daily newspapers in the post-war period. Using 104 testimonies given by Korean “comfort women” survivors, this paper intends to show that (1) Korean “comfort women,” their parents, and their neighbors were well aware of the forced mobilization of young Korean women in the name of the jeongsindae or cheonyeogongchul in the 1930s and early 1940s, and that therefore they made great efforts to escape from the forced mobilization, and (2) there is evidence that Japanese military used the teishintai (jeongsindae) as a mechanism to forcefully mobilize Korean “comfort women.” By showing these two facts, this paper intends to refute C. Sarah Soh’s claim that Korean redress movement leaders and Korean scholars conflated the jeongsindae with Korean “comfort women” with no factual evidence.
Korean migration to the Russian Empire and USSR occurred mainly during the years between 1869 and 1931. These Koreans came both directly from the peninsula itself and from Korean settlements in Manchuria. They remained overwhelmingly concentrated in the Russian Far East until 1937. From 9 September to 3 November 1937 the NKVD (Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs) of the USSR loaded around 172,000 ethnic Koreans into train cars and sent them to the Kazakh and Uzbek SSRs. This action cleared the eastern regions of the RSFSR (Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic) of the vast majority of its Korean population and created a significant diaspora in Central Asia. The official justification for this operation was the claim that the ethnic Koreans could serve to hide spies and saboteurs sent from the Japanese Empire. The relocated Koreans suffered from severe material deprivations during their initial years in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Soviet government also placed its citizens of Korean ancestry relocated to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan under a system of legal restrictions termed “administrative exile.” Finally, after 1939 they eliminated almost all Korean cultural institutions until years after the defeat of Japan. These factors made adaptation by the Koreans to their new areas of settlement difficult. Nonetheless, they managed to eventually overcome these obstacles and successfully integrate into the social, economic, and even political spheres of Soviet Central Asia. This paper will examine the early years of the Korean diaspora in Central Asia from 1937 to 1945. It will look at how the forced resettlement and subsequent material and legal disadvantages during these years transformed the group from its previous existence in the Soviet Far East. The paper will also address the role of geopolitical conflict in Asia between the USSR and Japan in determining Soviet policy towards this ethnic minority.