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Literacy Politics and the Status of Textbook for Women in North and South Korea during the Liberation Period - Focusing on Park Young-ae’s Textbook for Women and Choi Hwa-sung’s Textbook for Joseon’s Women -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2022, (85), pp.85-156
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.085.03
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 4, 2022
  • Accepted : May 5, 2022
  • Published : May 31, 2022

Yim Sehwa 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

What did ‘liberation’ mean to Korean women during the liberation period? For the women in post-colonial state, the ‘liberation’ meant the “dual liberation” from imperialism and feudal patriarchy. This article examined the special nature and meaning of the ‘liberation movement’ of Korean women, who had to be ‘liberated again’ after Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, through “literacy politics” and textbooks for Korean woman women during the liberation period. In the situation where the ideological confrontation and the system competition between the left and the right were escalating, South and North Korea began to carry out literacy politics for the purpose of establishing the legitimacy and superiority of their ruling system and achieving stability. The education policy of the two Koreas during the liberation period was outwardly declared as a national project for the eradication of illiteracy and the education of democracy and gender equality, but its underlying purpose was to secure public support for their ruling system and to seek for consolidating ideologies. The Cold War mode of thinking that interprets the influence and aftermath of literacy as a matter of ideological politics consequently became consistent with the aspirations of Koreans for education, but the start and direction of the education policy of the two Koreas was fundamentally different from the ideals of the Koreans. From the beginning, illiteracy eradication and national education in Korea already had the nature of extremely heterogeneous ideology, and the direction of the education gradually contained the nature of an ideological confrontation between the two occupying countries of the United States and the Soviet Union. As revealed in the duality of the ‘illiteracy eradication movement’, the two Koreas carried out literacy politics as a national movement under the same slogan despite their different goals. In the same way, the ‘women’s liberation’ also started from a completely different ideological purpose, but outwardly it was carried out under the same slogan and declaration. Both South and North Korea emphasized the importance of the extension of women’s rights and the realization of gender equality while using women’s literacy education for political purposes. Therefore, Korean woman in the liberation period once again acted as a mark to reveal the ‘political progressiveness’ and ‘degree of modernity’ of the nation. The purpose of the policy direction to ‘establish a democratic order based on gender equality’, which was put forward by both South and North Korea, was to solve the political problems that occurred in the process of accomplishing the basic goal of the occupation of the two Koreas, namely, reorganizing South and North Korea into a capitalist/Communist society, respectively, and to seek social stability. However, the policy to advocate women’s rights and improve their status had actually served a wider political purpose in drawing women’s support and participation in the policy implementation process and visualizing the reality and efficacy of the democratic ideology. Historically, textbooks for women have functioned as an institutional strategy and a political project that represent and reproduce the reality of the times, ideological changes, ruling ideology, and gender roles. Park Young-ae’s Textbook for Women(女性讀本) and Choi Hwa-sung’s Textbook for Joseon’s Women(朝鮮女性讀本) were written by female socialists, who paradoxically preached literacy for ‘women’s liberation’ using the form of ‘textbooks’, which have been a double shackle for women since the modern enlightenment period. These two textbooks, containing the ‘ideology of women in the liberation period’, were written by women themselves, and hold a special position in the trend of textbook publication in the liberation period or in the history of women’s liberation movement. In particular, the writers of these books emphasized that women should stand straight as ‘economic subjects’, and argued that women should serve as the main agents of liberation themselves, breaking away from the structure of being summoned as comrades in the establishment of the nation-state and revolution. These two books deserve attention as a symbolic example and reality of the modern women’s liberation movement, which was combined with the government planning, Cold War ideology, nationalism, post-colonialism, and enlightenment, at the time when the ‘Women’s Liberation’ started in earnest. In addition, they have a special importance as an evidence of the process that agendicized the issues, which had remained unsolved in the history of women’s liberation movement, simultaneously in the realms of field politics and academic discourses, and legalized them concretely in the midst of chaotic system competition by raising them as prerequisites for the times. Women’s literacy acted as a medium to connect and visualize the Cold War ideology of the division between the United States and the Soviet Union and the desire of post-colonialism. The need for women’s literacy was pointed out in various ways, sometimes as a product of national liberation, the vanguard of democracy, and an essential condition for national formation and national education, but the Cold War ruling technology was operating at the bottom of ‘women’s liberation’ through ‘literacy education.’ Therefore, the women’s liberation movement, which remained as a historical achievement while gaining political influence in the Cold War structure during the liberation period, was accepted limitedly as long as it had a strategic cooperative relationship with the ruling ideology of the Cold War, and was always judged through the ‘nation.’ The policy keynote of liberated Korea, which called women the members of the new nation and the economic subjects, was a powerful driving force of ‘women’s liberation movement’, and it was a limitation at the same time. In the middle of the liberation period, Korean women struggled again for ‘dual liberation.’

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