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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.64, No.3, 307 ~ 328, 2018
Bad Subjects and the Transnational Minjung: The Poetry of Jason Koo and Ed Bok Lee
Robert Grotjohn
In light of Korean inclusion of its diaspora as part of the nation, a “creolized” approach that brings together constructions of the bad subject of Asian American studies with conceptions of the Korean minjung grounds an analysis of two poets as they might be considered from a bi-national, Korean and U.S. American, perspective. The poets Ed Bok Lee and Jason Koo show different ways of being the bad subject. Lee is clearly a bad American subject, resisting American white racial hegemony, and his poetry often addresses a kind of American minjung multiculturalism, as is shown in poems from his first two books Real Karaoke People and Whorled. He challenges some aspects of contemporary Korea, and might be a kind of Korean bad subject in those challenges. Koo, on the other hand, resists the call to bad subjectivity, so that his poetry may not fit the preferred paradigm of Asian American studies, as he recognizes. As he resists that paradigm, he also gives little attention to his Korean heritage, so his not-bad American subjectivity becomes bad Korea subjectivity. He recovers some measure of badness in the final poem of Man on Extremely Small Island when he connects briefly to his Korean heritage and his Asian American present. The creolized juxtaposition of the bad subject with the minjung suggests the use of these poems in considering both American and Korean society.
Key Words
Ed Bok Lee, Jason Koo, Korean American poetry, bad subject, minjung
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