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The construction of the child in Korean children's magazines, 1908-1950 Zur, Dafna

Abstract

“The Construction of the Child in Korean Children’s Magazines, 1908-1950” examines the child as a site of ideological inscription through the texts and illustrations of children’s magazines from 1908-1950. The analysis, which spans Korea’s colonial and immediate post-liberation/pre-war period, opens with the publication of the first magazine for young readers in 1908, Sonyŏn (1908-1911), continues with an analysis of the colonial period magazines Ŏrini (1923-1934), Pyŏllara (1930-34), Sinsonyŏn (1929-34), and Sonyŏn (1937-40), and closes with the interruption of the publication of Ŏrininara (1949-50) and Sohaksaeng (1945-50) in 1950 upon the outbreak of the Korean War. This study focuses on magazines, and more specifically children’s magazines, because this medium was a major purveyor of Korea’s burgeoning consumer culture and well reflects the growth in literacy and the development of print and visual culture in modern Korea. Magazines also reflect colonial Korea’s changing engagement with social discourses such as Social Darwinism, colonialism, modernity and nationalism. The turn of the twentieth century brought with it an intense intellectual drive towards enlightenment in Korea, and the most significant target of enlightenment was the Korean child. It was the momentum toward reform and the gaze toward the future that brought the child so acutely to the forefront of social discourse and made the Korean child into a pliable image both textually and visually. By examining a representative range of magazines along the political spectrum, I demonstrate how the child—as a crucial site of ideological inscription—was constructed and manipulated in children’s magazines through negotiations with the discourses of colonial Korea. At the same time, I point to the existence of voices that wove a more complex tapestry and which, by problematizing the more prevalent constructions of the (enlightened/pure and innocent/rebel, politically conscious/wild, natural) child, challenged the hegemonic discourses and provided their young readers with images that reflected, in part, the experience of being a young person during the tumultuous period of colonial and postcolonial Korea.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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