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A Failed Women’s Rebellion and the Ability of Love—A Change of women as subject in 2000’s Romance Novel

  • Journal of Popular Narrative
  • 2022, 28(2), pp.95-126
  • DOI : 10.18856/jpn.2022.28.2.003
  • Publisher : The Association of Popular Narrative
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : May 13, 2022
  • Accepted : June 15, 2022
  • Published : June 30, 2022

LEE Jura 1

1원광대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper identified a new representation of female subjects in Korean romance novels in the 2000s and analyzed the desires of women at the time. Research on women’s new subjects in the 2000s has been studied focusing on chick-lit and TV dramas. These studies focused on the distortion or frustration of subjectivity of women who appeared in the conflict with the patriarchal system in the change to neoliberalism. However, the romance novel, a subculture centered on women, depicts a woman’s honest fantasy that was not fully embodied in the mainstream discourse. Therefore, this paper analyzed popular romance novels in the 2000s. Of course, in order to identify the point where the characteristics of women’s subculture meet the general desires of the time, it was analyzed focusing on Ji Soohyeon’s My Name is Kim Sam-soon and Hyun Gowoon’s Something About 1% that gained great popularity among romance novels. In the 2000s, the female subject in Korean romance novels was portrayed as a failure of self management recommended in the neoliberal self-development discourse. They are out-of-the-way losers. They are a pathetic woman who has not acquired the perfect femininity demanded by society of their time. However, the winners of romance novels were these failures. Although she failed to manage herself, she had different abilities. The romance heroine’s ability is to trust humans and practice true love. With trust in love, the heroine healed and changed an upper class man who was hurted by someone. Men are saved through women. Through this, the romance heroine becomes the subject of relationship. Moreover, romance novels reversed the typical Cinderella narrative and highlighted the ethics of life of the middle class. This showed the desire of female subjects to resist neoliberalism and sexism, which are mainstream discourses in contemporary society. In the 2000s, romance novels portrayed human values, ethics, and cultural diversity that survived to the end in the discourse of neoliberal competition for survival.

Citation status

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