This article examines Korean surrealism—the avant‐garde movement most explicitly preoccupied with questions of the psyche and subjectification within an historical context of colonial unfreedom—through attention to the short‐lived journal Samsa munhak 三四文學 (34 Literature, 1934–37) and its most representative poet, Yi Si‐u 李時雨. Drawing from psychoanalysis and affect theory, it addresses Yi Si‐u's scholarly underexamined but substantive meditations on the constitution of the subject, desire, and repression, focusing specifically on the question of (un)happiness and its implications for psychic and political freedom in a colonial climate of despair only partially brightened by the allure of the commodity. The author aims to demonstrate how Yi's surrealist refraction of subjective desire both registers the sociopolitical pressures of his historical context as well as negatively conceptualizes a liberated form of happiness at odds with the standardized variant administered by the hegemonic colonial authority. As such, the dialectical inseparability of collective liberation from psychosocial repression and the individual pursuit of happiness can become legible, an insight that may contribute to current theorizations of affect, commodification, and emancipatory movements.

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