Perhaps the most renowned leftist writer of late colonial Korea, Kim Namch'ŏn left a complex body of work that has so far defied an encompassing interpretation. On the one hand, in his theoretical writings, Kim consistently advocated realism as his aesthetic principle. On the other hand, within his fictional writings, Kim also displayed an antithetical interest in the fragmentary scenes of modern life, which he often depicted through experimental techniques of a modernist aesthetic sensibility. In this essay, an attempt is made to provide a unified account of Kim's works. Special attention is given to Kim's early theorization of the everyday as a proper literary space for a materialist critique of society. This focus on everyday life, it is argued, enabled Kim to critique both the teleological outlook of dogmatic socialism and the utopian vision of pan-Asianism, but it did not shelter him from a fascination with the daily spectacles of urban modernity.

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