This article examines how the melancholic tradition of Korean literature takes a new turn toward epistemological disillusionment through Kim Young-ha’s (Kim Yŏngha) novel K’wijǔ syo (Quiz show, 2007). On the rapidly shifting horizons of unprecedented stability and prosperity, while exposed to the alienating effects of the newly emergent media-driven society where the meaning of community becomes fragmented and obscured behind scintillating screens clamoring with masked identities, writers of this era and thereon faced the double-bind of an ironic grief over the “loss of a shared sense of loss (beloved values)” that upheld the realist tradition, such as sovereignty, political integrity, and economic stability. Focusing on the gaps and overlaps between the representative functions of conventional media such as film, and the disconcertingly visceral incarnations of human desire and fallacy we see in the simulacra of new media platforms including cellphone texts and Internet chat rooms, this article suggests that Quiz Show responds to this challenge by highlighting the impossibility of “knowing,” whether the subject is one’s own self, institutional values, or even the very fabrics of reality. Reading the protagonists misadventures through tortuous passages of failed communication, representation, and simulation of new ideals, I discuss the story as a reflection on the identity crisis Korea’s younger generations were wading through amid the material abundance and ideological void in the 1990s. The spectral fragments of electronically mediated interaction we see throughout the novel, I claim, is an inquiry into what one may be, or even how one cannot be anyone at all, in a society where nothing can be safely identified or identified with anymore.

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