Organized Panel Session
Korean intellectuals began conceptualizing the “East” or “Asia” at the same time they gained awareness of the “West.” Korean intellectuals attempted to maintain national independence by alternately accepting and rejecting the dichotomized framework of civilization versus barbarism of Western imperialisms, but their endeavors for national independence were thwarted with colonization of Korea by Japan, which had been imagined as an Asian nation. After this, Korean intellectuals began imagining the West and Asia within the context of accepting or rejecting imperial Japan.
Through three papers that share the keywords of translation, travelogue, circulation, and universality/particularity, this panel examines how various colonized Korean intellectuals imagined Asia. Jang Huh examines the ambivalent comparison between black slaves and colonized Koreans in Yi Kwang-su’s retranslation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in order to show how Korean intellectuals conceptualized Asia by borrowing the Japanese circulation of Western culture. Chung-Hee Ryu suggests the ways that notions of Koreanness became positioned within the context of relationship between Asia and imperial Japan by exploring Ch’oe Nam-sŏn’s idea of Asia. Mi-Ryong Shim, by examining late colonial writings by the novelist Ch’ae Man-sik on the topics of travel and translation, demonstrates how consideration of Asia as a transnational network for mobile bodies and texts can offer radically different readings of even seemingly monolingual, mononational texts. This panel traces the ways in which the colonized Korean intellectuals’ imaginings of Asia became produced, modified, and reconstructed in complex engagements with imperialism/colonialism and notions of the West/East.