The Politics of Despair and the Erotics of Language
This chapter discusses the summoning of postcolonial, territorialized “South Korean” subjects and the appearance of early attempts to question Cold War oppositions. Three major strands of 1950s intellectual discourse are thus examined: the return of the colonial debate on national literature in the attempt to form a South Korean literary field in the 1950s; the reworking of colonial nativism as a Cold War traditionalism; and the deployment of existentialism in South Korea, which interrupts both the national narrative/traditionalism and the universalism of its “first world” counterpart. The questioning of the person/place isomorphism and the nonaligned subject, as well as the post-1945 discourse on Korean as the new “national language” (as opposed to Japanese), are analyzed in the works of writer Son Chang-sŏp and in the 1956 filmic adaptation of Chŏng Pi-sŏk's popular 1954 novel, Madame Freedom (Chayu puin), respectively.
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