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Oh Jang-hwan's Middle Path

  • Korean Language & Literature
  • 2015, (95), pp.445-463
  • Publisher : Korean Language & Literature
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature

Oh Moon-seok 1

1조선대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The poets of the 1930s could be classified into two groups by their poetic orientations. One group pursued poetic innovation by receiving modern civilization of the West; the other had recourse to nostalgic restoration of the lost tradition. Oh Jang-hwan, however, denied to belong to either of poetic groups. He stood on the in-between space, neither on the modern city nor on the traditional village. At one point, he paid attention to the seamy side of the modern city in which prostitution, gambling and drugs prevailed to criticize hypocritic life of the city. Of course, he did not champion traditional life. He engaged in disclosing the hypocricy and duplicity of traditional morality when many cultural nationalist harked back to the so-called traditional way of life. For him, traditional ethics was a kind of monstrous social machine forcing individuals' sacrifice under the name of family. In order to imagine a flight-line from this oppressive traditional ethics, he often idealized the modern individual's desire that challenged traditional norm. Viewed in this way, he seemed to be a pessimistic skeptic who denied both modernity and tradition at the same time. However, he was not a skeptic. Rather he was closer to the experimentalist, who juxtaposed both modernity and tradition to make them deconstruct each other. In other words, he chose 'middle path' when the society forced to choose either modernity or tradition. By doing so, he opened up a new possibility of combining modernity and tradition dialectically.

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