• Korean Han and the Postcolonial Afterlives of "The Beauty of Sorrow"

    Author(s):
    Sandra So Hee Chi Kim (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    Asian diaspora, Korean culture, Korean studies, Postcolonialism
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    han, transnational studies, transpacific studies, Korean American
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6WN61
    Abstract:
    In this article, I depart from the typical discussion of the Korean sociocultural concept of han as a collective feeling of unresolved resentment, pain, grief, and anger that runs in the blood of all Koreans. Scholars, artists, writers, and critics frequently characterize han as "the Korean ethos" and the soul of Korean art, literature, and film. It is said to be unique to Koreans and incomprehensible to Westerners. I argue, however, that its contemporary biologistic-oriented meaning emerged first during the Japanese colonial period as a colonial stereotype, and that tracing the afterlife of han gives us a postcolonial understanding of its deployment in culture. I examine how han originated under the contradictions of coloniality, how it evolved from a colonial construct to its adoption into Korean ethnonationalism, and how it travels into a completely new context through the Korean diaspora. Rather than dismissing han as nothing more than a social construct, I instead define han as an affect that encapsulates the grief of historical memory—the memory of past collective trauma—and that renders itself racialized/ethnicized and attached to nation.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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