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An Analysis of Nationalist Ideas in the Works of Ethic Korean Painter O Byeong-hak in Japan

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2014, (55), pp.5-44
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 10, 2014
  • Accepted : November 6, 2014

JUNG MIN LEE 1

1오카야마 대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper will examine the activities of O Byeong-hak – the nation’s first-generation ethic Korean painter in Japan – and his nationalist ideas manifested in his career. Born during Korea’s colonial period under Japan, O studied at a Japanese art school and explored the images of Korea for more than half a century in Japan. One of the notable aspects of his career is that, though he had lived in Japan since his move from Korea, he has constantly portrayed his own nation and the products of the national culture. At the same time, he has not opted for the citizenship of neither South Korea nor Japan but insisted his nationality as a people of Joseon, which can be interpreted as his refusal to the nationality of South and North Korea and of Japan. Having grappled with the two types of modern identities – the people and the nation – he finally has erased the feature of the people and called the nation on the front. Then why does he pursue only the nation? And how can we define his idea of the nation? Starting from these questions, this study will analyze O’s national consciousness. A simple conclusion of this study is that he had no other options but to have necessarily chosen the idea of the nation as the imaginary identity considering that his idea of the nation has been subjective, obscure, and abstract according to his remarks and comments as well as his works. It is because the identity of a nation embeds changeability in which he has to ceaselessly seek for the others and define himself through the process, unlike the case of the identity of the people that clearly distinguishes the subject from the others based on given conditions and guarantee his identity in the form of documents. Thus, O’s idea of nationality cannot be defined simply or clearly but takes the form of constantly being supplemented or added inside and outside of the context. In other words, his idea of the nation is quite mythical. Although the gap between the identity of the people and the imaginary identity of the nation in his works undoubtedly has a certain limitation – i.e. the cases are too partial – they nevertheless show clearly that the idea of the people and the nation are by no means the same. His idea is enough to ring a bell more loudly in the situation of South Korea that still identifies the two concepts equally even in constitution.

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