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What (Not) to Wear: Refashioning Civilization in Print Media in Turn-of-the-Century Korea

What (Not) to Wear: Refashioning Civilization in Print Media in Turn-of-the-Century Korea positions 15:3 Winter 2007 diplomatic protocol following increased dealings with foreign powers, it soon gained momentum as proponents of the kaehwa (enlightened civilization) movement appropriated a new vestimentary language to promote their social reforms.1 This essay considers how the issue of clothing unwittingly came to occupy the foreground of a shifting discourse of civilization in turn-of-the-century Korea. Long before those fashionistas with the “modon” moniker came ˘ onto the scene in the 1920s, the Kabo Reforms of 1894 prompted vociferous debates over matters of dress and appearance. These reforms promoted the adoption of more simplified clothing and relaxed the sumptuary code that traditionally differentiated yangban (landed gentry scholar officials) and commoners.2 For kaehwa leaders supporting such sartorial changes, appearance possessed emphatic meaning. Initially, they assumed an inherent fixity in “Koreanness,” even as China’s apparent stagnation and Japan’s appropriation of Western models suggested change and fluidity. Kaehwa thinkers to a certain degree seemed to view sartorial matters as a type of wardrobe engineering in which one’s mode of dress possessed sociopolitical application.3 They were promoting a type of uniform to represent the kaehwa movement as well as simultaneously perform Korea’s “new civilization” in a global context. Yet they did http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

What (Not) to Wear: Refashioning Civilization in Print Media in Turn-of-the-Century Korea

positions asia critique , Volume 15 (3) – Dec 1, 2007

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2007 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-2007-007
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 15:3 Winter 2007 diplomatic protocol following increased dealings with foreign powers, it soon gained momentum as proponents of the kaehwa (enlightened civilization) movement appropriated a new vestimentary language to promote their social reforms.1 This essay considers how the issue of clothing unwittingly came to occupy the foreground of a shifting discourse of civilization in turn-of-the-century Korea. Long before those fashionistas with the “modon” moniker came ˘ onto the scene in the 1920s, the Kabo Reforms of 1894 prompted vociferous debates over matters of dress and appearance. These reforms promoted the adoption of more simplified clothing and relaxed the sumptuary code that traditionally differentiated yangban (landed gentry scholar officials) and commoners.2 For kaehwa leaders supporting such sartorial changes, appearance possessed emphatic meaning. Initially, they assumed an inherent fixity in “Koreanness,” even as China’s apparent stagnation and Japan’s appropriation of Western models suggested change and fluidity. Kaehwa thinkers to a certain degree seemed to view sartorial matters as a type of wardrobe engineering in which one’s mode of dress possessed sociopolitical application.3 They were promoting a type of uniform to represent the kaehwa movement as well as simultaneously perform Korea’s “new civilization” in a global context. Yet they did

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positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2007

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