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:

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In the context of colonial modernity, Korean women discovered new opportunities to articulate their sense of spatial location, craft new identities, and challenge the Confucian patriarchal system. One might argue that the self-conscious attempts of Korean women to redefine themselves and challenge gender roles and conventional norms of femininity were similar to trends in interwar Japan. As in Japan, the emergence of the “new woman,” professional housewife, working woman, and factory girl was intricately connected to rapid industrialization, an explosion of urban culture and values, and technological innovation. What distinguished Korean women's experiences, however, was their dual confrontation with modernity and colonial power. The images of Korean women, as well as their self-definitions, could not be divorced from the colonial context and a growing nationalist movement that searched for a counternarrative and a voice.

Keywords: colonial modernity; Korean women; Confucian patriarchal system; gender roles; interwar Japan; rapid industrialization

Chapter.  4052 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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