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Truths of Traitors: Colonial Collaboration and Autobiographical Narratives in Postliberation Korea

Truths of Traitors: Colonial Collaboration and Autobiographical Narratives in Postliberation Korea This article examines post-1945 autobiographical writings by alleged pro-Japanese collaborators, focusing on how these ex-colonized Korean writers represented their “shameful” pasts. Autobiographical narratives that confess to writers’ collaborations are customarily interpreted as excuses or self-justifications for collaboration that distort colonial memories. This customary reading of autobiographical writings, based on the factuality and sincerity of the narratives, seems to derive from a preceding literary practice of reading sosŏlga sosŏl (novels about novelists) during the late colonial period, a tacit contract between reader and author of expecting fiction to represent the author’s transparent life narrative. In challenging this mode of reading, this article traces the rhetorical styles and effects and the complexities of the political and ethical implications of two famous confessions of collaboration: Yi Kwangsu’s My Confession and Ch’ae Mansik’s “Sinner of the People.” In doing so, this article demonstrates how specific rhetorical devices produce the sincerity of the autobiographical texts and give closure to the dishonorable colonial past. The author presents a new approach to pro-Japanese collaboration by exploring the arduous task of closure, self-reflection, and decolonization undertaken by Korean writers in the postliberation period, when the decolonizing project was deemed a failure. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Korean Studies Duke University Press

Truths of Traitors: Colonial Collaboration and Autobiographical Narratives in Postliberation Korea

Journal of Korean Studies , Volume 26 (1) – Mar 1, 2021

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References (24)

Copyright
Copyright © 2021 Journal of Korean Studies Inc.
ISSN
0731-1613
eISSN
2158-1665
DOI
10.1215/07311613-8747720
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines post-1945 autobiographical writings by alleged pro-Japanese collaborators, focusing on how these ex-colonized Korean writers represented their “shameful” pasts. Autobiographical narratives that confess to writers’ collaborations are customarily interpreted as excuses or self-justifications for collaboration that distort colonial memories. This customary reading of autobiographical writings, based on the factuality and sincerity of the narratives, seems to derive from a preceding literary practice of reading sosŏlga sosŏl (novels about novelists) during the late colonial period, a tacit contract between reader and author of expecting fiction to represent the author’s transparent life narrative. In challenging this mode of reading, this article traces the rhetorical styles and effects and the complexities of the political and ethical implications of two famous confessions of collaboration: Yi Kwangsu’s My Confession and Ch’ae Mansik’s “Sinner of the People.” In doing so, this article demonstrates how specific rhetorical devices produce the sincerity of the autobiographical texts and give closure to the dishonorable colonial past. The author presents a new approach to pro-Japanese collaboration by exploring the arduous task of closure, self-reflection, and decolonization undertaken by Korean writers in the postliberation period, when the decolonizing project was deemed a failure.

Journal

Journal of Korean StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2021

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