Beginning with The Square (Kwangjang, 1960) and the linked novel Voice of the Governor-General (Ch'ongdok ŭi sori, 1967, 1968, 1976) and moving through two early 1970s works, A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist (Sosŏlga Kubossi ŭi iril, 1970–72) and The Tempest (T'aep'ung, 1973), the south Korean writer Ch'oe In-hun engaged in a sustained attempt to write a performative history that would unpack the multilayered coloniality informing the Cold War condition on the Korean peninsula: the intersection of statist authoritarianism and U.S. neocolonial developmentalism with a history of (ethnonationalist, classed, pan-Asian) identifications produced in the Japanese colonial period (1910–45). If the task of the south Korean developmental state in the 1960s and 1970s was to legitimize its project via the ethnonationalization of the commodity form and to set the course for a productivist extermination of communism in the north, Ch'oe increasingly sought to overcome the division of the peninsula by questioning a continuing Euro-America-centric global modernity, the East/West binary, and the continuing effects of Japanese colonialism. Ch'oe's naturalizing of a regime of universal commensurability in the form of the Ego in The Square (“Ego” appears in English in the text) is thus followed by a series of confrontations with the universal/particular relation and the notion of the subject itself, the figure of the collaborator (still the touchstone for rigidifying the ethnonational/imperial binary in south Korea), and Cold War racial hierarchies. Linking the trajectory of Ch'oe's work from the early 1960s to the early 1970s to late-colonial-period discourse on imperialization and immediate postliberation collaboration confessionals, this article examines the reworking of pan-Asianism in the form of a “non-aligned” subject in Cold War south Korea.

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