[KS] Kyujanggak Colloquium: Gendered Formation of Revolutionary Heroes in North Korea (Suzy Kim)

서울대학교 국제한국학센터 icks at snu.ac.kr
Fri Mar 2 01:14:09 EST 2012

Dear list members,

You are cordially invited to the first Korean Studies colloquium of the spring semester at Kyujanggak. Our speaker will be Suzy Kim (Rutgers University), who will talk on the gendered formation of revolutionary heroes in North Korean literature, drama and film.

Title: Punyo (Mother) and Ch'onyo (Maiden): Gendered Formation of Revolutionary Heroes in North Korea

Venue: Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (bld. 103, Seoul National University Campus)

Time: Thu. March 8, 4-6 PM

Sea of Blood and The Flower Girl are two of the three so-called "Classics of Great Revolutionary Works" in North Korea in which the main protagonist is female. Along with The Fate of One Member of a Self-Defense Unit, the three works are said to have originated as stage plays during the period of anti-colonial guerilla struggle in Manchuria. Thereafter, the plays were reworked into films, musicals, and novels. They represent heroic epics of overcoming obstacles, suffering, and tragedy, concluding in the revolutionary triumph of national and class liberation. While the intention behind the works may be totalizing, projecting images of national unity, they actually raise interesting questions about the role of gender in postcolonial nation-building. This paper examines the intersection of history with film and literature by specifically looking at the representations of women in the genre of "great revolutionary works" in North Korea. In doing so, I focus on the tension between 'tradition' that reinforces former identities and revolutionary 'modernity' that purports to institute new forms of subjectivity. This tension gave birth to unprecedented semiotic practices for a socialist state. I compare the punyo (mother) in Sea of Blood and ch'onyo (maiden) in The Flower Girl to show how two stereotypically 'traditional' figures were transformed and recast as revolutionary heroines, constituting models for North Korean society.
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