In the 1990s, South Korean literature underwent a crisis of relevance due to the changing materiality of cultural production as shaped by globalization, neoliberalism, and technological saturation. Nevertheless, the postmillennial decades have witnessed an efflorescence of new styles and voices in the literary field. Abroad, South Korean literature in translation has achieved unprecedented success in Anglophone publishing. At home, #MeToo has converged with structural critiques against the literary institution, animated by online social movements and new paradigms for understanding relationships between politics, affect, and everyday life. This article begins by exploring these phenomena through the framework of “literary materiality,” understood as a set of contradictions about tangible and intangible properties distributed across intransitivity of signs, book-as-thing, codes and networks, material conditions of writerly life, and entities that confer and mediate literary value. The article goes on to examine the case of Yun Ihyŏng, whose oeuvre and activism have mobilized against the culture of literary commodification operating immanently in and across these forms. This article argues that her attempt to claim moral autonomy from the South Korean literary system is a promising vector in the ongoing struggle to dis-alienate literary culture in the age of neoliberal globalization.

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