Aesthetics of ‘A Hunchback’s Dance’ -Focusing on the Deformed Relationship between the Sexes Depicted in Park Wan-suh’s Novel
This paper analyzes volumes 1 to 3 (1975 - 1979) of『The Year of Famine in the City』, a major long novel written by Park Wan-suh in the 1970s. The aim of the paper is to examine the fact that the lack of a patriarch (father, husband, or elder brother) after the national liberation compelled women's independence, and also their entry into civil society. The paper also asserts that this lead to the collapse of the traditional patriarchal order, and the unique ‘deformed’ relationship between the sexes was developed as a result. In addition, it was examined that the author presented "the confluent love" that focuses on 'equality' between men and women as a way of healing the deformed relationship.
Park Wan-suh repeatedly emphasized in this novel that the re-established relationship between the sexes in the 1970s resulted particularly from the lack of a patriarch in families and the development of capitalism after the Korean War. The patriarch appearing in this novel goes through the deletion or contraction of his status as a family head, and as a member of the society in the historical context that involves the colonial rule of Japan, the Korean War, and the rapid advancement of capitalism. On the other hand, his wife enters into society as a career woman to earn a living for her family while the traditional patriarchy is collapsing. Superficially, she seems to play a substantial role as a family head, and thus begins to dominate her husband, but she is still bound to the traditional ethical code, so-called 'serving but a single husband.’ The widow who lost her husband in war also shows such an ambivalent attitude. She enjoys free love with many men, but the purpose of her free love is to marry one and re-enter into the traditional patriarchal order once again.
As such, the rapid collapse of the patriarchal system and a rise in women's economic independence failed to lead to women’s liberation, but formed the deformed relationship between the sexes with their position somewhere between the traditional ideology and the modern reality. The author proposes a way of overcoming the deformed relationship between the sexes in the 1970s, and recovering the primitive vitality of the relationship between the sexes, which is 'the confluent love.' "The confluent love" is a type of love that establishes a new identity through a loving unity without damaging the respective identities of both men and women alike. Additionally, “the confluent love” involves fleshly elements that were not emphasized in the traditional romantic love. Such fleshly elements imply the nature of women's liberation on the assumption that the traditional 'distinction' between ‘graceful madams’ and ‘hedonistic women’ vanishes.
This novel's end, however, describes the new generation that develops the future-oriented relationship between the sexes as leaving the city, and starting life anew in the father's hometown (countryside) in the 1970s, which reflects people's nostalgia toward the vanishing patriarchal order. In this context, ‘returning to the soil’ means re-entry into the traditional patriarchal order, which is viewed as originating from the instinct of returning to their traditional and stable foundations. In this novel, as a matter of fact, returning to the men-centered order of rank is insufficient to heal the deformed relationship between the sexes in the 1970s, which is also a major limitation of this novel's author, as well as being the general trend at the time in the 1970s.