Representing Radical Difference: Kim Sŏkpŏm’s Korea(n) in Japan(ese)

Representing Radical Difference: Kim Sŏkpŏm's Korea(n) in Japan(ese)

Cindi Textor - Postdoctoral Associate in East Asian Studies and Lecturer in East Asian Languages & Literatures

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 202, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Lunch will be provided.

In the early 1970s, second-generation “Zainichi” Koreans in Japan—many of whom, in contrast to their parents, had little or no Korean language ability—were starting to outnumber the first generation. At this time, Zainichi authors debated the ethical and psychological implications of writing in Japanese. At stake was the question of whether these authors could maintain a specifically Korean identity if that identity could be expressed only in the Japanese language. Kim Sŏkpŏm (1925- ) was a particularly active participant in this debate, writing numerous essays on the topic from 1970 to 1972. This talk explores Kim’s ideas about the relationship between language and identity formation in a postcolonial context, while also considering their concrete manifestation in his works of fiction, focusing on the novellas Karasu no shi (The Death of a Crow, 1957) and Mandogi yūrei kitan (The Curious Tale of Mandogi’s Ghost, 1970). By inserting fragments of the Korean language into his works, Kim destabilizes the Japanese text of his novels and carves out a space for the performance of a Korean identity. Though the Korea and the Korean language of Kim’s fiction are ultimately imaginary, for Zainichi Koreans, it is only through this imaginative process that an identification with the Korean “homeland” can be forged.

Cindi Textor received her Ph.D from University of Washington in 2016. Her dissertation, “Radical Language, Radical Identity: Korean Writers in Japanese Spaces and the Burden to ‘Represent’,” examines articulations of identity and difference in literary texts situated in contact zones between modern Japanese and Korean literature. Placing such texts in conversation with theories of identity from critical race, queer, and disability studies, the project asks how their writers manipulate the language available to them in order to articulate intersectional Korean identities. Cindi is also the translator of Kim Sŏkpŏm’s The Curious Tale of Mandogi’s Ghost. At Yale, she is revising her dissertation for publication and beginning a second project on Japanese-Korean solidarities in transnational protest movements. She taught a seminar titled “Popular Culture in Motion: Japanese Empire to Korean Wave” last fall.

Japan, Korea