This article examines the presence of Korean housemaids who worked for Japanese settlers in colonial Korea, 1910–45, and its connection to the urban landscape in the colony. It provides a historical investigation of the Korean housemaids who emerged among female workers in the urban sector and analyzes the diverse representational strategies of Korean housemaids by different gazers in mass media and literary works produced in the colonial and postcolonial period. In particular, it deals with the issue of colonial intimacy, focusing on the colonial encounter that includes the dynamic operation of affective politics between Korean housemaids and Japanese expatriates in the domestic arena. This article argues that the hybridized images of the Korean housemaids in Japanese families not only poses one specific form of the gendered subaltern whose voices were fragmented and refracted but also marks the colonial landscape in Korea as the contested terrain of revealing fractures in the dichotomous colonial narratives and the intertwined frames of race/ethnicity, class, and gender.
The Gaze on the Threshold: Korean Housemaids of Japanese Families in Colonial Korea
Jiyoung Suh received a PhD in (modern) literature from Sogang University (Korea) and has worked as a research professor in the Academy of Korean Studies, Korea University, and Ewha Womans University. Her main research interests have been the issues of modernity and gender/sexuality in colonial Korea. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, researching “Vernacular Music and Female Musicians in the late Chosŏn Korea, 1700–1896.”
Suh’s first book in Korean was Yŏksa e sarangŭl mutta-han’guk munhwa wa sarangŭi kye-bohak (Queries about Love in History: A Genealogy of Love in Korean Culture) (2011) and her second, Kyŏngsŏngŭi modŏn gŏl: sobi, nodong, gendŏro bon singminji kŭndae (Modern Girl in Colonial Seoul: Colonial Modernity Seen through the Prism of Consumption, Labor, and Gender) (2013), was also published in Japanese in 2016.
Jiyoung Suh; The Gaze on the Threshold: Korean Housemaids of Japanese Families in Colonial Korea. positions 1 August 2019; 27 (3): 437–468. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7539264
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