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1945-1950, Nationalism and the Utopia of Korean Art

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2010, 32(), pp.343-372
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : December 30, 2010

Kim Ju Weon 1

1

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study examines the characteristics of Korean art of years 1945 to 1950 that developed with its focus on the post-liberation reestablishment of the country and nation. In this particular period of Korean history, it is crucial to understand and analyze the nationalist utopia that had been dreamt under the circumstance of the loss and reestablishment of the nation, for such analysis is an important basis in defining the characteristics and identity of Korean beauty, a continuant investigation that had been initiated by Yanagi Muneyoshi's study on Korean art in the 1920s. A utopian period takes the subject or individual to be the party/person concerned of the history in other words, the owner of ones own fate ; Chosun after liberation was going through such utopian era. Having undergone a transfiguration from a colonial object to an independent subject, most individuals and groups of Chosun started to focus on the nation and the country as a principal of their own destiny after liberation. However, the recovery of nation and the reconstruction of Chosun had to face the contradictory reality - colonial remnants ; derived from colonial politics, it lived for thirty-six years yet needed to be cleared up. Artists then showed contrasting opinions about the matter yet each set their own utopian visions for the nation and the country. However, the polemics whose issues put emphasis on praising the beauty of Chosun's nature and the superiority of the nation show utopian fantasies made up of nationalist solidarity and self-deception. A utopia illustrates its future through the silence and omission performed by the loss of historical memory. The desire to lapse, hold silent and to omit the past is a common post-liberation phenomenon accompanied by the emergence of independent nations. The post-colonial loss of memory of Korean art of years 1945 to 1950 deepens and expands its symptoms in art historical volumes written directly after liberation. This can be understood as a utopian act of defining and predicating the history of Chosun only up until the pre-colonial era as well as a nationalist desire to delete the painful memories of colonial subordination. It is interesting to notice that Japan's colonial imaginative history that despised Chosun was repeated during the period of American military government. The intentional lapse and omission of the past by the post-colonial subjects were conveyed and inherited through various media such as myth, classics, ideological or academic volumes, literature, tales and illustrations, attempting to overthrow the image of Chosun as a disrespected country. Such endeavors embellish the nostalgia to re-discover the past lost amongst the colony yet at the same time show the desire to delete the past that had been hurt helplessly and was tainted and captivated by colonial forces, a never-wanted-to-be-seen-again spiritual wound.

Citation status

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