The “New Woman” and the Politics of Love, Marriage, and Divorce in Colonial Korea

Theodore Jun Yoo

in The Politics of Gender in Colonial Korea

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780520252882
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934153 | DOI:
The “New Woman” and the Politics of Love, Marriage, and Divorce in Colonial Korea

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This chapter analyzes a small coterie of educated women who emerged in the 1920s, challenging tradition and crafting new gender roles and identities. The visibility of the “new woman” in the public sphere fueled sharp debates about this new prototypical female who rejected traditional domesticity, espoused free love, and demanded the right to divorce or remarry unconditionally. Though some scholars have argued that traditional Korea and the modern agenda of these women were incompatible, and hence the new woman was destined to fail, this chapter seeks to reconceptualize the issue. Rather than address the question of success or failure, the chapter examines how education gave new women the tools to articulate their sense of spatial location and identity as they negotiated their own vision of Korean womanhood.

Keywords: 1920s educated women; traditional Korea; Korean womanhood; divorce; new woman

Chapter.  12486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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