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The Construction and Mechanism of the ‘Byeongmat’ Discourse

Park JaeYeon 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article aims to examine the manner in which the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse was constructed, and the mechanism of the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse. I claim that the constructed discourse excludes disabled persons and women. When the ‘Byeongmat’ first appeared in the mainstream, it was understood as being presented only by webtoons. Furthermore ‘Byeongmat’ and webtoons were understood as almost synonymous. In this sense, it is no exaggeration to say that the way in which the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse was constructed is the way in which ‘Byeongmat webtoons’ were interpreted. In this article, to find out how the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse was constructed, I examine two things. First, the reception of media of ‘Byeongmat’. ‘Byeongmat’ was at first understood as ‘kitsch’ by the media, but soon after generational meaning was added. Second, the interpretation of ‘Byeongmat’ in academia. In academia, the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse is advanced as a refined generationalism. Regardless of the ‘Byeongmat webtoon’ itself, ‘Byeongmat webtoon’ is interpreted as a text which is destructing narrative and filled with parodies. Furthermore this characteristic of the ‘Byeongmat webtoon’ is interpreted as a resistance culture of the younger generation. However, this interpretation serves as a mechanism which excludes the disabled and women. Currently, Korean society faces the popularization of the ‘Byeongmat’ code, the decline of the ‘Byeongmat webtoons’ and the crack of the younger generation discourse. The current situation allows the ‘Byeongmat’ discourse to be criticized without losing its social context while securing a distance of critcism. I expect that this article can contribute to further diversifying interpretations of ‘Byeongmat’ and ‘Byeongmat webtoons’, and accelerating the crack on the younger generation discourse.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.