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The Greater East Asia as Imaginative Geography -the occidentalism and racism in the colonial Korean plays in early 1940's-

Lee, Sang Woo 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to investigate the meaning of the occidentalism and racism in colonial Korean plays in early 1940's. Many Korean plays in later colonial period, especially in early 1940's, had the characteristics which oriented to the ideas of anti-the West and anti-the White people, because imperial Japan which had ruled colonial Korea, was making the war to the West, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, at that time. Colonial Korean playwrights had to write plays which corresponded to Japanese policy for the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere(大東亞共榮圈) for taking permission of performing their works in the official theaters. Of course, Japan's enforcement wasn't the single reason for colonial Korean playwrights to write works as like that. Partially, some colonial Korean playwrights spontaneously wrote works which had the tendency of anti-the West and anti-the White, because they willingly agreed with those ideas which was opposed to the western values as like liberalism, individualism, democratism, capitalism and so on. These ideas were called ‘the discourse of the oriental(Toyo, 東洋)’, which was invented by the conservative Japanese intellectuals for rationalizing the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere at that time. The ideas of the Greater East Asia were based on the idea of imaginative geography which means that ‘the West’ represent the material civilization, the modernity, otherwise ‘the East’ represent the spiritual civilization, the tradition. Some Korean playwrights agreed with the ideas imaginative geography from the inside because they believed East Asian people together had to unite around imperial Japan, and struggle to the West, the White people. Im Seon-Kyu's plays “Binghwa(the iced flower)”, “Saebyukgil(the road at dawn)”, and Cho Chun-seok's play “Gaehwachon(the enlightening town)” were representative of those works which supported the ideas of the Greater East Asia. In those works, we investigated how making of female characters related with melodrama's codes, and how the pursuit of the Greater East Asia's ideal made work's protagonists to the state of 'being nation'.

Citation status

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