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A Study on Female Gender Consciousness during the War Period - Focusing on Cheong, Bi-seok 『The Bell of the Century (世紀의 鐘)』-

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1상명대학교

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ABSTRACT

Cheong, Bi-seok received spotlight in 1954 with his poplar work, ꡔFree Madam (自由夫人)ꡕ, published serially in ꡔThe Seoul Shinmunꡕ and was publicly called as a “popular novelist”. After this, he chose to be a full-time writer and popular writer. Up until now, discussion around Cheong, Bi-seok has been mostly focused on ꡔFree Madamꡕ. After the 1990’s, however, as the consciousness of popular culture extended to Korean literary circles as well, Cheong, Bi-seok several works of popular culture including ꡔFree Madamꡕ have been discussed from various aspects. This article has as its subject of analysis ꡔThe Bell of the Century (世紀의 鐘)ꡕ, a newspaper serial novel published in ꡔYongnam Ilboꡕ during the war period. In more detail, this paper will examine the periodic aspects of the war period with the reality that the female character of the work faces and also discuss the reality and gender consciousness of war widows with the conflicts of love triangle centering around the female main character. During the Korean War, there was great personnel and material loss. Particularly as the male war dead increased, families without a head increased rapidly. Because of this, war widows with no husband became a social issue. As the war widows’ hardships of life and physical solitude in youth became an issue, their tarnished ethics of sex was highlighted. Cheong, Bi-seok ꡔThe Bell of the Centuryꡕ reflects such periodic issues the war widows faced during that period. Young-sim Min, the female main character, becomes a war widow as her husband is kidnapped to North Korea and is missing during the Korean War. She suffers from the conflicts between her emotional and physical solitude as a war widow and her female consciousness subordinate to traditional patriarchic order. She cannot overcome her miserable emotion as a widow in reality and faces her tragic doom to choose suicide bearing her cross of resentment towards patriarchy. The female main character, Young-sim Min’s death implies the fact that she was the sacrifice of the male gender’s patriarchic consciousness that could not recognize the women’s reality during the war period ultimately and saw the war widows as objects of horror or fear.

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