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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.64, No.1, 39 ~ 61, 2018
A Strange Encounter: ‘Blackness’ and Postcoloniality in Korean Military Camptown Literature
Jee Hyun An
This paper closely examines the textual representations of ‘blackness’ in Korean military camptown (gijichon) literature from 1950’s to 1980’s, and argues that the animalistic portrayals and almost compulsive bestialization of blacks reveal an attempted hierarchization of Koreans above blacks with an underlying belief in white supremacy in coming to terms with Korean postcolonial subjectivity. Going against the grain of nationalist readings of gijichon literature, which largely celebrate its resistance against US domination, this paper problematizes racialized postcoloniality emerging out of these stories that span over four decades. The paper demonstrates that the racist depictions of blacks as the Other and even sympathetic portrayals of black soldiers all work to legitimate white supremacy and hierarchize race in the formation of Korean postcolonial subjectivity, paradoxically reinforcing and perpetuating colonial racial ideologies.
Key Words
Korean military camptown (gijichon) literature, blackness, bestialization of blacks, racial hierarchization, racialized postcoloniality
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