S-Space Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원) Korean Culture (한국문화) Korean Culture (한국문화) vol.43 (2008)
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 규장각한국학연구원
- 한국문화, Vol.43, pp. 375-400
- This thesis focuses on the specialty of post-coloniality found in Yeom Sang-seop’s novel, ‘Man Se Jeon’ using Homi Bhabha’s concepts of mimicry and hybridity. Lee In-wha, who is the main character and narrator in ‘Man Se Jeon’, belongs to a so-called of elite state as a foreigner student from Joseon. He stands in an intermediate position of an intelligentsia in a colonial country. This position, that is to say, Lee In-wha who belongs to the location in-between the imperial and colony, is the realization of the state of mental miscegenation, imitating imperial language and appearance, eventually, becoming hidden in the imperial.
The mimicry in ‘Man Se Jeon’ thoroughly failed them as a colonial strategy to inject an imperial policy into colonials, on the other hand, was also an adaptative method of colonials to accept the attribute of imperial ruling themselves.
In addition, Lee In-wha who was educated in an imperial educational system in Japan, did not have a thoroughly nationalist spirit ; he, however, is not a stereotyped character who accepts all aspects of Japan’s policy absolutely. And the appearance which ‘Chosenjin were disguised as Japanese’, colonials who imitated the behaviors of Japanese, is throughly broken up by the gaze of watcher/observer.
‘Man Se Jeon’ was famous as a novel which clearly shows the process of moving from Japan to Joseon. In this process, Lee In-Wha realized his position as a colonial himself. The problem is that this recognition leads against Lee In Wha, “to bring himself somewhere”, to grope for a kind of an alternative plan against the loss of a location where he believes he must stand.
In Lee In-wha’s gaze, colonized Joseon and Chosenjin were increasingly losing their national identity, then imitating a Japanese life pattern or pressed by Japanese culture as a fragment belong to a part of imperial control. In the midst of this process, a birth of a mixed-blood baby exposes a cultural hybridity which has domesticated imperial taste, moral and spirit. Eventually, the appearance of Joseon is craved as a community cemetery which consists of anonymous corpses.
In the novel, the difference between colonizer and colonist is described throughout an intimate relationship of Choson foreign student Lee In-wha and Japanese waitress shizuko’. Lee In-wha starts to find a way to overcome his complicated situation, changed through the death of his wife, Eulla’s cheating and shizuko’s change as undergraduate. He determined that he would choose neither Eulla nor shizuko, rather living alone and isolated himself. Here, his isolation can be read to mean his “freedom”. He entered into his own free square which mean ‘true freedom’ without headache.
Lee In-wha transcends the relation of family and the destiny of Chosenjin as leaving Chosen, and he is willing to stand in the world of an individual, a third world, and not return to shizuko.