Organized Panel Session
Born in Pyŏngan Province in today’s North Korea, Nak Chung Thun (1875-1953) emigrated to California in 1907, settling in Riverside. Thun was educated as a classical scholar, but worked as a laborer for most of his life in the United States. In his spare time, however, Thun wrote fictional works in Korean, leaving behind a literary estate that is today a precious discovery for both Korean and Korean American literary historians. The present panel will provide the first scholarly treatment of Thun’s archive, held by the Library at the University of Southern California, through three studies that address its history as well as its contents. By way of contextualization, Edward Chang will offer an ethnographic account of the Thun family’s contribution to the formation in Riverside, California, of Pachappa Camp, the very first Korean enclave in the United States. Ji-Young Yi will then shift the focus to Thun's literary production, looking in particular at two full-length novels that, while set in Thun's native Korean province, can be also revealingly read along with the earliest examples of diasporic Korean American literature. Finally, Yoon Sun Yang will dig deeper into Thun’s literary archive through an analysis of “A Pitiful Grave,” a short story whose Sinicized British protagonist gets entangled in a fateful love triangle with a Canadian ingenue and a Chinese femme fatale. Wrapping these contributions together, the panel will address the documentary history and current editorial state of Thun’s archive, detailing initiatives now underway to bring part of it to publication.