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East Asia Resource Center
The Disappearing Future: Korean Literature during the Asia-Pacific War
Tuesday February 17, 2015
Center for Korea Studies
The future seems to disappear from Korean fiction written under late 1930s colonial fascist rule as a stream of protagonists wind their weary way through a repetitive daily life, dreaming of past glories or present escapes. Critics at the time noted the widespread phenomenon of nostalgia and the craze for reading the classics; revolutionaries struggled to imagine a transformed, and postcolonial, society; and all writers had to confront the shrinking space of publication for printed letters and the demand to write in the imperial language, Japanese. Yet what forms of time come to the fore when the future seemingly disappears and what does this suggest about modernism in the Japanese empire and in a global fascist moment?
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Janet Poole teaches Korean literature and cultural theory at the University of Toronto. Her exploration of Korean modernist writers’ response to Japanese fascist occupation during the Pacific War recently appeared as When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination of Late Colonial Korea (Columbia University Press, 2014). She has translated the works of many writers from colonial Korea, including a collection of anecdotal essays published during the Pacific War by Yi T'aejun, Eastern Sentiments (Columbia University Press, paperback edition, 2013), and a bilingual edition of Ch’oe Myŏngik’s melancholic elegy to interwar Pyongyang, Walking in the Rain (ASIA Publishers, 2015).