This chapter discusses the effects of modern humanist ideologies on Korean literature and literary criticism of the Japanese colonial period and postcolonial South Korea and North Korea. Recognizing that the figure of the proper human being was a very powerful mediator between Japanese imperial and colonial discourse and Korean intellectuals and writers, the chapter advocates moving beyond Cold War ethnonationalist framings of the history and legacy of the Japanese empire. It first describes the three main ideas of the genus-being of the human in colonial Korea—self-legislated morality, productive labor, and nation-state subjectivity—as well as literary texts that resisted or existed outside of their hegemony. It then turns to the 1950s and the post–Korean War texts of literary scholars in South Korea and North Korea to show how the humanist discourses of the Japanese Empire continued to haunt the postcolonial Korean nation states, particularly in the way that critics such as Paik Ch’ŏl and Ŏm Hosok asserted the need for the cultivation of human subjectivity in the face of the fragmentation and crises of their postwar societies.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 selection and editorial matter, Heekyoung Cho; individual chapters, the contributors.