Resistance and Disillusionment:

Politicizing Literature in the Authoritarian South Korea


December 2 (Friday), 2022, 8:00-10:00pm (EST)

Via Zoom (a link will be provided to the AATK members closer to the event via email)
If you are interested in this event, you can renew or join the AATK membership here.

Colloquium Committee: Hae-Young Kim (Duke University), Ji-Young Jung (Columbia University), and Kyung-Eun Yoon (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Moderator: Hae-Young Kim (Duke University)



Rest in Peace, Kim Chi-ha: Literature and South Korean Democratization

Youngju Ryu (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Kim Chi-ha passed away on May 8th of this year, quietly, without much caterwauling from the press. Even though all the major papers did run an obituary headlining Kim as the poet of “With a Burning Thirst” and a fighter against dictatorship, there was no lengthy media tribute, no public commemoration, and not even a muninjang, the kind of funeral presided over by fellow writers. Kim’s death lasted in the news cycle for less than a day as the country’s attention was swallowed up by the inauguration of the new president. 

What happened to a poet once adored by the Korean public as the wielder of the pen mightier than Park Chung Hee’s sword to make the end of his life such a lonely affair? The question requires an exploration of the politics of death that shaped both the terrain of resistance during South Korea’s authoritarian era and the configuration of competing narratives that delimited how the era would be remembered after its end. Grounding the inquiry on two controversial pieces of writing that Kim Chi-ha produced on the topic of death, this presentation will ask: How does a writer outlive martyrdom in a society deeply divided about how to sacralize the sacrifices that were exacted in the process of its “compressed modernization”?


내부망명자의 고독과 성찰 - 안수길과 이산의 경험에 관하여

Soo Yeong Han (Yonsei University, Mirae Campus)

안수길(1911~1977), 한국문학사에서, 근대 세계의 보편적 경험이라고 할 수 있는 이산(diaspora)의 문학적 반영을 논의할 때 결코 빠트릴 수 없는 중요한 작가의 한 사람이다. 무엇보다도 우리가 그를 기억해야 할 이유는, 이산의 경험을 문학이나 예술에 반영할 때, 가장 강력한 이념이 되는 민족주의와 본토 중심주의, 그리고 그에 기반을 둔 공적 기억(public memory)의 과잉성에 대해, 안수길은 항상 그것을 경계하고 성찰하면서 타자(the other)의 위치에 서있고자 노력했던 작가였기 때문이다. 안수길의 이러한 사상적 특징을, 나는 외재성(out of placeness) 또는 자발적 타자성이라고 부른다. 그의 문학에 나타나는 이러한 사상적 특징은, 한국인의 이산, 특히 식민지 시기 만주체험을 형상화할 때뿐 아니라, 해방 이후 남한과 북한이 서로 대립하고 경쟁하는 분단시대의 모순을 통찰하는 데에서도 확인할 수 있다. 안수길의 작가적 여정을 통해 이러한 특징들이 작품들에 어떻게 반영되어 있는지를 살펴보면서, 근대적 인간에게 있어서의 고향과 조국, 그리고 정주(定住)와 이산, 공적 기억과 주관적 기억(private memory)의 문제 등을 논의해 보고자 한다.

About the Presenters (in alphabetical order):

Soo Yeong Han, a professor of Korean Literature at Yonsei University, Mirae Campus, focuses his research on establishment of national literature in post-colonial South Korea, bilingualism and nationalism, subjectivity of the colonized, and post-war writers. He has authored a number of books on major writers such as Kim Soo Young, Yeom Sang Sup, and Yi Sang.

Youngju Ryu, an associate professor of Modern Korean Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arber, is a specialist of modern Korean literature with research interest in politics and aesthetics of protest, cultures of authoritarianism, and mediatized publics in modern Korea.  She is the author of Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea (2016, University of Hawaii Press).