[KS] Re: Public awareness of homosexuality in South Korea
j-yuh at northwestern.edu
Sun Oct 8 15:22:07 EDT 2000
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this is an interesting thread.
the following information comes from a friend who has done some
anthropological study of homosexuality/gayness/queerness in south korea
among koreans in the united states.
>>1) Does anyone know when the term "tongsOngyOnaeja" was first used in
>>Korean? I assume it arrived via Japanese based on the Chinese
>>characters; does anyone know of first usages in either Chinese or
>>Japanese? Does it predate the 20th century?
>->The film, "Dirty Laundry (directed by Richard Fung) is about Chinese
>queer diaspora to North America.
>Although the word tongsungaeja is derived from Chinese characters, it is
>probably a recent term related to shinjisikin discourse in the japanese
>colonial ear. "AE" in "Tongsongaeja" reflects a consciousness of the term
>"yonae" among heterosexuals. and "Yonae" is not an ancient Korean word, is it?
>However there is no written data or clarification regarding when the word
>was first used in Korean society.
>There is at least one written record of (female)homosexual practice in
>In the Sejongsillok, there is a record saying that a Kungnyo was found to
>have this practice with Sejong's oldest Son's wife and that both women
>were expelled from the palace.
>2) regarding homosexuality as a modern concept, perhaps, but not
>necessarily. different sexual practices and lifestyles are not necessarily
(to add to my friend's comments, is it necessary to divide into modern
by implication, pre-modern, attitudes toward and lifestyles regarding
homosexuality? perhaps a more detailed analysis, one that focuses on
particulars rather than relies on generalities, would be more useful. it
seems to me that the idea that homosexuality/gayness/queerness is a
concept takes mainstream white north america as the prototype and fails
take into account practices in other cultures and locales.
the current gay/queer culture in north america is a 20th century
phenomenon, as is the accompanying practice of coming out. but modernity
north america predates the 20th century, does it not? so what exactly
current gay/queer culture in north america modern? and what is the
usefulness of defining it as modern? i would suggest that its usefulness
part derives from making/taking another opportunity to position the west
advanced and universal -- as being the template for modernity. and thus
positioning other cultures and countries as once again mimicking the
when homosexuality becomes an issue. this is not to deny that some
and behaviors are taken from the west, but we need to pay attention to
these concepts and behaviors are modified, even transformed. there is no
another anthropologist, martin manalasan, has studied gay filipino men
new york city and found that their conceptualization of gayness is very
different from that of mainstream white americans -- no coming out, for
example, their family and friends simply know and there is no need for a
dramatic revelation. are they premodern or not modern enough? --
>>3) Does anyone know of any stories in Korean literature that deal
>>specifically with gay or lesbian protagonists? The topic is treated
>>peripherally in O ChOng-hUi's "Morning Star," Kang SOk-kyOng's "Days and
>>Dreams" and the late Hwang Sun-wOn's "Doctor Chang's Situation," but
>>that's all I can think of off the top of my head. I know Walter Lew has
>>an article on homoeroticism in Yi Sang, but I'm curious if there's
>>anything more concrete than that.
>You mean in English? I don't think so. But in Korean there are several novels.
>"Kunyo ui yoja (A Woman of Her)" written by ? (well known as the wife of
>the passed Kim Dong Lee)
>and several books written by Lee Youn Ki (a famous translator now came to
>be a novelist.) it dealing with Korean diaspora and queerness together.
>The background of the book comes from his experience as a visiting
>professor at Michigan University.
>And "Yonoarul ssipda (Chewing Salmon eggs)" is an Internet Novel written
>by Kim Eun Kyung.
>There is also the famous novel, "Saedurun che irumrul purumyo unda (Birds
>cry while calling their names)"
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