"A Man of the Epoch and a Prophet": The Rise of the Ideological Critic in Kaebyǒk

Jae-Yon Lee, University of Chicago

In the January 1925 issue of Kaebyŏk, Pak Yŏnghŭi, an editor of the magazine, contended: “a critic should be both a man of the epoch and a prophet.” Pak’s call for a new kind of critic was a significant moment in defining the role of a critic because until 1923, writers tended to value creative works more than critical writings. What was at stake in criticism that was created to guide a society and art together? How and why did it necessarily emerge through a magazine? Kaebyŏk (Opening of the world, 1920-1926) was a general interest magazine, which published political reports, social expositions, literary works, and reviews. But also as an intellectual magazine, it carried reformist worldviews based on the religious humanism of Ch’ŏndogyo (Heavenly way) and Marxism. Previous scholarship focused on either the magazine’s main ideologies (i.e., reformist worldviews) or its representative literature (i.e., realist fiction, reportage, etc.). Instead of emphasizing one element or the other, I examine criticism as a form that allowed for a synthetic view of society and art. Specifically, I explore the historical development of criticism in Kaebyŏk, where aspiring writers took their reformist worldviews to create literary perspectives for analyses. The interactive convergence of religious, social, and literary worldviews, I argue, led to the rise of ideological critics in Kaebyŏk, whose vision of ideal Korean society guided realist fiction in the 1920s. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 4:20 pm — 6:00 pm
Building 250 - Room 111 EALC Library

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures