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Acta Koreana is published semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 by Academia Koreana, Keimyung University.
 
 
Title THE CLASH OF CULTURES IN KIM NAMCH’ŎN’S SCENES FROM THE ENLIGHTENMENT
 
Author
CHARLES LA SHURE
Volume Vol. 19 No. 2
Pages pp. 87~108 (all 22 pages)
Publication Date DECEMBER, 2016
Keyword Kim Namch’ŏn, Japanese colonial period literature, novels of manners, enlightenment period
Abstract Kim Namch’ŏn’s 1939 novel of manners, Taeha (Scenes from the Enlightenment), offers a snapshot of Korea at a crucial point in its modern history, the beginning of the Japanese colonial period. The town in which the novel takes place is an ideological battleground as old clashes with new. In terms of the social order, the old guard of the yangban aristocrats clings desperately to the last threads of its status and prestige, but the yangban must ultimately admit defeat and make way for the rise of the capitalist. Ideologically as well, different philosophies clash, with traditional shamanism and superstitions being denounced by the new enlightenment thinkers and Christian proselytizers. Yet there is one clash that the author deals with only in the subtlest of terms: the clash between the Korean people and the Japanese colonizers. Although this has been seen as a weakness in the novel’s historical consciousness, Kim Namch’ŏn’s depictions of the clashes between old and new cultures are nuanced; neither side is portrayed as being wholly right and effective. While it is clear that the new is winning out over the old, the picture that we are left with is not a stark black-and-white image but a much more nuanced understanding of this tumultuous transitional period.
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