Organized Panel Session
This panel encompasses three papers that examine the ways in which groups of women - as trendy modernists, political activists, and theatre spectators - have effected social change in South Korea since the end of the Korean War. The historical and theoretical frameworks employed by the three presenters complement one another, critiquing established structures within modern Korean history - such as those of ethnic nationalism, state power, and neoliberal capitalism - through the framework of gender. Hye-Kyoung Kwon's "The Transpacific Memory of Beauty, Dance Fever, and Nationalism" traces the rise of women as a socio-economic class in postwar South Korea as they experimented with notions of modernity and publicity in the newly founded dance halls. Hayana Kim's paper "Jesa Activism in the Graveyard" studies the anti-dictatorship democratic movements of the 1980s, focusing on acts of mourning by the bereaved mothers, sisters, and wives of civilian casualties during the Gwangju Uprising. Hyewon Kim moves the clock forward another several decades in her paper "Extraordinary Women Spectators," situating women audiences at the center of South Korea's recent musical theatre boom and assessing their influence on queer representation. Put together, these papers raise pertinent questions about gender at a critical point: in the wake of the #MeToo movement that took South Korea by storm several years ago. What historical precedents are there for solidarity and group identity among Korean women? How have women managed to secure space in the public sphere? How are labor and affect intertwined in the renegotiation of womanhood?