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Rewriting Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Korean Dance

  • The Korean Journal of Dance Studies
  • Abbr : KRSDS
  • 2005, 15(15), pp.77-98
  • Publisher : The Korean Society for Dance Studies
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Dance

Kim, Hyunjung 1

1성균관대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

Rewriting Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Korean DanceHyunjung KimUniversity of California, Riverside, Ph.D.Lecturer, Sungkyunkwan University and the Korean National University of the ArtsNationalist discourses on Korean identity in relation to Korean ?tradition? have been reinvented at different times, in different forms, and with varying degrees of intensity in South Korea since the late nineteenth century. I locate contemporary Korean dance as a site of this discourse in the twentieth century and examine three major trends of cultural nationalims: spirituality-based anticolonial nationalism; redirected gendered nationalism; and aggressive, internationalized, global nationalism. My project demonstrates ways that contemporary Korean dancers (re)claim agency in creating contemporary Korean identity, and ways their choreography opens up a possibility for a bodily (re)writing of gendered and subaltern histories.Through careful readings of Kang Mi-ri?s 「Willow」, 「The Tree of Life」 (1996), Kim Young-hee?s 「Here Myself Alone I」 (1997), and Ahn Ae-soon?s Gut-Play (2001), I show how choreographers and dancers embody, theorize, and in some ways redirect this complex, layered history of (post)colonialism. I choose shamanism as a coherent thread throughout my paper because of its contentiousness in both colonialist and nationalist discourses, its precarious position at the juncture of tradition and modernity, and its meaningfulness as one of the essences of Korean identity. I also address the gendered context of Korean nationalism in the concert form of salp?uri, which is a precursor of Kim?s 「Here Myself Alone I」 and which is well known as a traditional Korean dance. Following Susan Foster?s idea of choreography, I choreograph the complex relationship between dancing bodies and crucial issues in cultural studies such as modernity, nationalism, (post)colonialism, and gender, toward multiple readings of each dance piece.

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