Discoursing in Numbers: The Female Worker and the Politics of Gender

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:
Discoursing in Numbers: The Female Worker and the Politics of Gender

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This chapter focuses on labor unrest among Korean women workers and the public debate among Korean reformers and the Japanese state about how to reassert control over this unruly group. It highlights the paradoxical image of the female worker as at once a helpless victim of economic oppression and an assertive activist. Her image as victim rendered her less threatening (i.e., as a ward of the state or of bourgeois philanthropy) while her activism raised the specter of social disruption and violence. As the economic crisis of the Japanese empire intensified in the 1930s, concessions to Korean female workers declined, leading to more militant strikes that were better organized both in terms of national and socialist ideology.

Keywords: labor unrest; Korean women workers; Japanese state; Korean reformers; socialist ideology; women activism

Chapter.  11545 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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