Na Hye-sok (1896-1948) lived a pioneering life as an individual woman, artist, and writer during the turbulent period of Japanese colonial rule in Korea. A beneÞciary of progressive education in Korea, Japan, and Europe, rarely available to average Koreans of her time, Na enjoyed high social visibility and reputation. She broke new ground in Western oil painting as the Þrst Korean woman professional painter and also had an indelible impact on modern Korean literature and culture as a reform-minded writer and critic. Her life and creative activities, often iconoclastic and audacious, were rarely free of press attention and controversy because they challenged the conventional thinking and status quo of her own society. Her major work, "Kyonghu i," polemicizes some of the urgent and thorny issues of Korean society in the throes of modernization, focusing on gender and patriarchal relations, Confucian family and marriage institutions, and women's identity and autonomy. Na's most accomplished work of Þction, "Kyonghu i" qualiÞes itself as the Þrst full-blown, feminist short story in Korean literature, marked by its heroine's successful completion of self-discovery and her diffcult quest for meaning in life as a "new woman." As such, the story represents one of the towering points in the intellectual annals of modern Korea as well as in modern Korean women's writing traditions.


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