Notice of the SOAS seminar on 22 February 2013:
The body, territory and national identity in “stories about Kubo” by Pak T’ae-wǒn, Ch’oe In-hun and Chu In-sǒk
Justyna Najbar (Warsaw University)
Date: 22 February 2013, 5:15pm
Venue: Russell Square Room G50
The Korean literary tradition of “stories about Kubo” (Kubo-hyǒng sosǒl) started in 1934, together with the publication of Pak T’ae-wǒn (1909 – 1986)’s novel, A day in life of Kubo, the novelist (Sosǒlga Kubossi ǔi iril). As the title may suggest, the novel of Pak T’aewǒn presents one day in the life of a young Korean intellectual named Kubo, who lives in Seoul during the period of Japanese colonization. The original story about Kubo became an inspiration for Ch’oe In-hun (1936~) and Chu In-sǒk (1963~), who also wrote stories under the same title.
Although the protagonists of these three novels written by Pak T’ae-wǒn, Ch’oe In-hun and Chu In-sǒk share the same name, they completely differ from each other as they live in different periods of Korean history. In the novel of Ch’oe In-hun (Sosǒlga Kubossi ǔi iril, 1969–1972) the protagonist Kubo reflects not only on the colonial past but also on the cold war, division of the Korean Peninsula and the authoritarian regime of Pak Chǒng-hui. On the other hand, the novel of Chu In-sǒk (Sosǒlga Kubossi ǔi haru,1995) presents the life of a novelist, who lives in Seoul in the postindustrial society of the early 90s.
During my lecture I am going to approach the question of the identity of all the writers Kubo by focusing on their body perception and the teritorry they choose to explore. I will discuss the meaning of (1) the medicalized and medicalizing body of Pak T’ae-wǒn’s Kubo, (2) the bodily self-perception of Ch’oe In-hun’s Kubo suffering imprisonment and being afraid of losing authenticity and (3) the insignificant, unproductive body of Chu In-sǒk’s Kubo brutally tortured by the people in power. As all of them are likewise concious bodies of Korean intelectualls, who wander the space of Seoul and its surroundings, I will also analyze the symbolic meaning of different places they visit.
Justyna Najbar-Miller holds a Ph.D in Korean literature from the University of Warsaw. She also graduated from the Korean Language Institute (KLI) at Yonsei University and completed a Ph.D studies programme at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. In 2011 she began her post at the Oriental Faculty of the University of Warsaw, teaching Korean religions, Korean language and Korean mixed script but her research interests include mostly modern Korean literature and literary translation. She translated Pak T’ae-wǒn’s “A day in life of Kubo, the novelist” from Korean into Polish in 2008 and her Ph.D dissertation dealing with the ‘stories about Kubo’ is going to be published in Poland in September 2012.