In the early 1930s, a new group of women writers with a leftist inclination emerged on the Korean literary scene. Some critics have questioned the feminist commitment of these writers, suggesting that their works may have subordinated the cause of women's liberation to that of a socialist revolution. In critically assessing this view, this article embeds the works of women writers in their contemporary social and cultural context. The focus of discussion throughout are the works of Kang Kyǒngae, perhaps the most prominent and representative writer of the group. Leftist women such as Kang, it is argued, espoused socialism not as an alternative to feminism but as a variant feminist outlook in order to address the interest of lower-class women. Kang's portraits of proletarian women contested from a class perspective the contemporary cult of domesticity, which was promoted by both colonial authorities and Korean nationalists. And while Kang refrained from openly confronting the socialist patriarchy, she criticized it in its quotidian form, the chauvinism of leftist male intellectuals. Alongside a socialist commitment, the suggestion is that leftist women's literature had a genuinely feminist function within the discursive environment of colonial Korea.
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Sunyoung Park; Rethinking Feminism in Colonial Korea: Kang Kyǒngae and 1930s Socialist Women's Literature. positions 1 November 2013; 21 (4): 947–985. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2346059
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