National History and Domestic Spaces: Secret Lives of Girls and Women in 1950s South Korea in O Chông-hûi's "The Garden of Childhood" and "The Chinese Street"
- Journal of Korean Studies
- Duke University Press
- Volume 9, Number 1, Fall 2004
- pp. 61-95
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Situating O Chông-hûi's works "The Garden of Childhood" and "The Chinese Street" in the context of masculinist memories of the Korean War, produced in the 1970s and 1980s, the paper argues that O's two stories offer a feminist reinterpretation of the Korean War and the post-Korean War era. "The Garden of Childhood" reinscribes the Korean War as a space of feminine sexuality emancipated from patriarchal authority, challenging the prevailing representations of mothers and wives as symbolic figures that project ideological reconciliation and national reunification in male writing. The second part of the paper, on "The Chinese Street," explores the period immediately following the Korean War as the moment of launching of South Korean women as a workforce that is exploited simultaneously by the alliance of patriarchy, dictatorial state and neocolonial U.S. domination. The paper argues that it is the domestic sphere and relations through which working-class women's labor is mobilized and yet elided and that O's story deconstructs this linkage between women and family by narrating women's disaffection from the domestic space. It contends that women's resistance to the patriarchalized domestic sphere, consequently, works to subvert women's subordination to the state and the neocolonial hegemony.