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"Modernity" and the Idea of “Wise Mother and Good Wife” in the Colonial Korea

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2010, (99), pp.299-338
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Hong, Yang-Hee 1

1한양대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that the stereotypical image of 'wise mother and good wife' and its underlying logic were reconstructed through the complicated process of competition, negotiation, and mixture of diverse temporality/spatiality of modernities in colonial Korea. The main purposes of this paper are to expose the derivative nature of the “modernity”, to investigate the way how it was appropriated in the colonial Korea, and to disclose the duplicitous and essentialistic understanding of modernity. The ideal of 'wise mother and good wife' has its origin in the West and has become popular as a national resistance against the western imperialism and colonialism in the early of 20C in Korea through the slow but persistent process of imitation, resistance, and reconstruction. Accordingly, the very modern nature of this ideal was a complex compound of the diverse currents of thoughts at the time. It functioned not only as an intrinsic duty of women but also an essential part of the indigenous Korean culture. This essentialistic reception of “wise mother and good wife” has made a continuing impacts on the various ways women deal with this stereotypical gender model which naturalizes and essentializes not only the gender role but also the paradigm of the nation-state and modernity.

Citation status

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

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.