This book explores the history of modern Korean literature from a sociocultural perspective. Rather than focusing solely on specific authors and their works, Young Min Kim argues that the development of modern media, shifting conceptualizations of the author, and a growing mass readership fundamentally shaped the types of narratives that appeared at the turn of the twentieth century. In particular, Kim follows the trajectory of the sin sosŏl (new fiction) as it meshed with the new print and media culture to give rise to innovative and hybrid genres and literary styles. In doing so, he compellingly illuminates the relationship between literary systems and forms and underscores the necessity of re-locating literary texts in their sociohistorical contexts.
Young Min Kim is former director of the Institute for the Study of Korean Modernity and professor in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Yonsei University.
Part I: The Birth of the Modern Literary System and the Transformation of the Cultural Landscape
Chapter 1: Modern Publication Mediums and the Appearance of the Chappo (Miscellaneous News) Section and Sosŏl (Fiction)
Chapter 2: The Birth of the Modern Writer and Copyrights
Chapter 3: The Formation of Modern Readers and the Establishment of Systems for Reader-Submitted Works
Part II: The Development of Modern Narratives and Changes in Fiction’s Form
Chapter 4: Changing Conceptualizations of “New Fiction” (Sin sosŏl) and their Literary Significance
Chapter 5. The Appearance of Short Stories and the Diversification of Narrative Forms
Chapter 6: The Lengthening of Narratives and the Development of Modern Long-Form Fiction (Changp'yŏn sosŏl)
Former director of the Institute for the Study of Korean Modernity, Kim , one of the most influential and meticulous scholars of modern Korean literature, offers an account of the development of modern fiction (sosŏl). The four stages of this development—the rise of Korean script and the corresponding decrease in the use of Chinese, the rise of a modern literature through magazines and newspapers, the appearance of professional writers, and the increasing importance of social themes—provide the book's framework and offer easy signposts with which to follow the narrative. Kim's primary achievement is highlighting the importance of the new print media—and the interaction of writers, publishers, and readers—in the rise of prose fiction, and his treatment of the diverse genres of fiction reveals the social and professional dynamic of the literary scene at the time. The sheer scope of Kim's study, the detailed and extensive notes, and the fluency and elegance of the translation by Rachel Min Park make this book not only a vital guide to early modern Korean fiction but also a genuinely enjoyable, if intense, read for those with a particular interest in the subject. Highly recommended.
Now available in a fine translation, Professor Young Min Kim’s The History of Modern Korean Fiction (1890-1945): The Topography of Literary Systems and Form moves beyond an examination of the formation of modern literature in Korea to an analysis of commercial print culture and the public sphere itself, with an emphasis on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kim deftly brings together a range of sociocultural materials and concerns—including the establishment of printers and publishers, new vernacular and mixed-script literary forms associated with newspapers and magazines, authorship and ideas about the function of journalism, and the emergence of participatory readership. Meticulously researched, Kim’s study is a must-read for anyone interested in the literature, culture, and history of modern Korea.
In excavating and reconstructing literary systems across modern Korean history, Young Min Kim has revamped our understanding of modern Korean literature and culture. That his signal scholarly contributions are available in English is wonderful news for the Anglophone world. Read it, savor it: no one can fail to learn from The History of Modern Korean Fiction (1890-1945).
This is a philologically rigorous and erudite investigation of the substantial textual corpus published in Korea from 1890 to 1945. By zooming in on local agents’ roles in developing the modern institution of literature, this book painstakingly chronicles the unique pathways through which modern Korean fiction came into being. Its availability in English will especially benefit Anglophone scholars of East Asian literature.
In choosing to focus on the time period encompassing the late nineteenth century to the 1910s, Young Min Kim became one of the first scholars on Korean literature to choose the path of a specialist rather than that of a generalist. Thus far, there have been other studies on the sin sosŏl, or New Fiction, but most of them were unable to make substantial advances and inevitably came to a standstill. In contrast, Kim has demonstrated his deep comprehension of this time period’s literary historical significance. And what exactly was this time period? It was an era where Korean literature set out on the path towards modern literature—or more precisely, starting its agonizing struggle in forming its own modern literature. This book is a comprehensive synthesis of Kim’s contributions, the result of his long and arduous research. Many scholars have already carried on the legacy of his research. With this new English translation, even more scholars will encounter the fruits of his research and will help pave the way for the next generation of scholars.