S-Space Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원) Seoul Journal of Korean Studies Seoul Journal of Korean Studies vol.32 (2019)
Na Hyesŏk: The “Korean Nora”
- Choi, Jung A; Kim, Han Sung
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, Vol.32 No.2, pp. 239-261
- Na Hyesŏk; sin yŏsŏng; first-generation Korean Feminist Artist; Kyŏnghŭ i; “Inhyŏng ŭ i ka” (A doll’s house); Noraism
- Han Sung Kim Na Hyesŏk (1896–1948), the so-called “Korean Nora” of colonial Korea, challenged existing patriarchal conventions and tried to dismantle androcentric myths. In her poem, “A Doll’s Song” (1921), an adaptation from Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, she exclaims, “I have a divine duty, setting out on my mission to become a person.” Her feminism was a common theme among Korean new-age women and her task was one shared with Japanese new women artists. Japan and Korea’s new-age women had ideological ties, despite their political differences as constituents of empire and colony, a fact closely linked to the reception of “Nora” in East Asia. Korean international students in Tokyo learned and experienced Western culture via Japanese intellectuals and celebrated Ibsen’s “Nora” as a role model of modern individuality. For Korean male students, being a “Nora” implied having a sense of enlightenment both as a modern person and a colonial intellectual with an awareness of nationalistic boundaries.
However, Na Hyesŏk made it her priority to break with patriarchal ideology so that Korean female intellectuals could play a role equal to that of their male counterparts in modern Korean society.