This paper deals with ideal masculine types in the gender discourse of Korea's modernizing nationalists during the late 1890s and early 1900s. It begins by outlining the main gender stereotypes of Korea's traditional neo-Confucian society, and it argues that old Korea's manhood norms were bifurcated along class lines. On one hand, fighting prowess was accepted as a part of the masculinity pattern in the premodern society of the commoners. On the other hand, the higher classes' visions of manhood emphasized self-control and adherence to moral and ritual norms. The paper shows how both premodern standards of masculinity provided a background for indigenizing the mid-nineteenth century European middle-class ideal of “nationalized” masculinity—disciplined, self-controlled, sublimating the sexual impulses and channeling them toward the “nobler national goals,” and highly militarized—in early modern Korea.

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