This paper deals with the hybridity of modern Korean literature as it tries to explain its anticolonial politics by focusing on the exposition of Joseon literary history and the discourse of the “serious novel” in the late colonial era by Im Hwa, who is considered as one of the foremost critics of modern Korean literature. Im Hwa characterized modern Joseon literature as the result of the hybridization of pre-modern Joseon literature and modern Western literature, thereby devaluing the perceived influence of Japanese literature on modern Joseon literature. This idea was premised on his assumption that the tradition of modern Joseon literature focused on the pursuit of “immaculate individuality.” As such, he imagined the “serious novel” as consistent with the form of the Western novel of the 19th century and as a realization of “immaculate individuality.” However, due to the political and ideological context of the late colonial era, the apparent modern trait of the “serious novel” was deemed to have broken loose from the ideology embodied in the notion of “East Asia” or the “New Order.” As a result, the “serious novel” was believed to have resisted the formal realization of such ideology in what was at that time considered “national literature.” In line with Im Hwa’s argument, the ideology of “national literature” (in contrast to “immaculate individuality” which was marked by modernity), represented pre-modernity, and hence embodied ideas like collectivity and totalitarianism. Modern Joseon literature, in fact, might be viewed as the result of colonization, having developed as it did under the influence of Japanese literature. Nonetheless, Im Hwa’s argument posited the possibility of a combined inscription of literary form and anti-colonial politics in the hybrid formation of modern Joseon literature as shaped by Western modernity.


anti-coloniality, hybridity, Im Hwa, immaculate individuality, modernity, “national literature”, pre-modernity, “serious novel”

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)