London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Melodrama of the Modern Girl: Jaesaeng by Yi Kwang-su

Further details of this Friday’s talk at SOAS:

Friday, December 4th, 5pm, room G50 (main building)
Dr. Michael Shin, University of Cambridge
Melodrama of the Modern Girl: The Novel Jaesaeng by Yi Kwang-su (1924-25)

Yi Kwang-su’s Jaesaeng (Rebirth) was one of the most popular novels in colonial Korea during the 1920s. One reason for its popularity was that it was a romance novel that featured the “new woman” and her more commodified and eroticized counterpart, the “modern girl.” The “modern girl” was an embodiment of the excesses of modernity; in particular, the crass materialism and the craze for romance that overwhelmed Korean society after 1919. By depicting the fall of a “new woman” into a “modern girl,” the novel made a critique of modern life in Joseon. Because of its melodramatic aspects, Jaesaeng has been relatively ignored by literary critics. This talk will discuss how the novel was not simply escapist entertainment and contains insights both into shifts in capitalism at the time and into the narration of the nation.

Speaker Bio:
Michael D. Shin is Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Cambridge. He is the co-editor, with Pang Kie-chung, of Landlords, Peasants, Intellectuals in Modern Korea (Cornell East Asia Series, 2005) and the translation editor of The Dynamics of Confucianism and Modernization in Korean History by Yi Tae-jin (Cornell East Asia Series, 2008). His research focuses on the colonial period, and he has written a book manuscript tentatively titled The Specter of Yi Gwangsu. He is also one of the editors of the journal Yeoksa Bipyeong and the editor of the English-language version of the KBS documentary series “Yeoksa Special” (Korean History: Fresh Perspectives).

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