The politics of romance in colonial Korea: An investigation of a Korean translation of the Japanese romance novel, the gold demon

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Abstract

This essay explores cultural interactions between Korea and Japan by focusing on Korean translations of Japanese fiction in the early 1910s. It considers the translation of Japanese texts in colonial Korea as a contested field of culture where Japanese assimilationist ideologies were promoted and challenged. The translation of Japanese romance novels in the 1910s in the colonial newspaper, Maeil sinbo (The Daily News) is a striking example of the ideological function that imperial literature played in colonial Korea, demonstrating the uneven cultural exchange between the colony and the metropole. However, the ways native translators appropriated the original texts, while negotiating the colonial forces around them, deserve our attention for the embodiment of their political agency, reflecting native interests and cultural sentiments in the translations. I contextualize the cultural significance of the translation of romance novels and analyze a Korean translation of a Japanese novel, The Gold Demon, as a case study. In this work, the translator, Cho Chunghwan, negotiates colonial power through the notion of collective suffering and salvation, and by employing a Christian and patriarchal rhetoric of love.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-87
Number of pages19
JournalSungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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