“(Un)masking Colonial Subjectivity: Kim Naesŏng and Modern Korean Detective Fiction”
A Faculty Scholar Resident talk by Jooyeon Rhee, Dorothy W. Gilpatrick University Endowed Fellow in the Humanities and associate professor of Asian studies and comparative literature.
This paper examines detective fiction writer Kim Naesŏng’s works and his position in modern Korean literature to critically engage with the transnational literary practice in a colonial situation. It probes how detective fiction became an important cultural means for Korean writers to express their observations of modernity and how Kim Naesŏng’s case demonstrates the fluidity of transnational literary practice that challenges the notion of the origin and the copy. His facilitation of the motifs of masks, disguises, and twins as well as his references to European and Japanese detective fiction bear importance since they complicate the colonial subjectivity that is incessantly caught in between the origin and the copy while teasing out the ambiguity of imperial hegemony even during the height of the Pacific War through the figure of the doppelgänger. These doppelgänger figures play a role in revealing both the desire and the limit of mastering otherness that mark colonial subjectivity.