THE COLONIZED BODY – KOREAN WOMEN’S SEXUALITY AND HEALTH.docx

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22 Apr 2012
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THE COLONIZED BODY KOREAN WOMEN’S SEXUALITY AND HEALTH
- 2 Women committed suicide in front of a train : Hong Og-im (21) and Kim
Yong-ju > lesbian relationship > suffered from hereditary disease/hysteria
- focus: discursive forces that competed to define Korean women’s bodies
within the framework of medical science and focuses on reproductive
biology, in which science sought to imbue the body > the mechanics of life
- reproducing the nation was a top priority for modernizing countries but a
particularly urgent goal for one under colonial occupation
- after the great depression of 1929 and after Japan’s active involvement in
Manchukuo > the stage began to play a more proactive role in controlling the
reproductive health of Korean women with a view to increasing the
population
- if it wanted to emerge victorious and independent, Koreans needed not only
numbers but strong, healthy bodies and minds to rebuild the homeland >
mothers were at the heart of this task
- Korean and social reformed believed that what was needed as sexual
education for the public, social reform of marriage, and new reproductive
knowledge and technologies to replace primitive practices
- Koreans sought to assert control over the pace and nature of reforms,
accommodating yet also resisting Japanese attempts to colonize the Korean
national body
- 1920’s witnessed an unprecedented explosion of discourse on sex. Much like
Japan, where the science of sex was quickly gaining currency, social
reformers and medical docs in Korea began to identify the category of sex as
pivotal to debates about society and social reform, whether they feared for
national security, demanded freedom or social control or insisted on the
truth of sex
- cartoon published in magazine: Pyolgon’gon > captures shifting views on sex
o reveals 2 changes:
the nude painting was on public display, giving it an analytical,
visible and permanent reality
depicted an ignorant mother confronted by a precocious child
who was not ashamed to pose questions about sexuality
***showed that a new generation of Koreans was moving
beyond society’s repression of sexuality to a healthy curiosity
about the subject
- Korean appetite for sexual things coincided with the printing boom spawned
by the liberalization of the press after the March first movement
o Visible change: the proliferation of sex-related advertising in
newspapers and popular journals
o Ads for erotic novels and scientific studies on sex dominated the press
o Explicit ads of complete collections of pictures of need female bodies
and new illustrations of women’s reproductive organs, which
promised to get any male or female excited, also appeared with
greater frequency in the newspapers
o Shrewd (smart/clever) ads combined eroticism with scientific
writings about new sexual concepts and different methods of birth
control
- Morally outraged koreans went on a campaign to eliminate the so-called
ppalgan ch’aek (red books) which symbolized Japanese attempts to enslave
Koreans to frivolous entertainment
- Controversy: ppl argued:
o Criticized Jap entrepreneurs for their secret plan to induce Koreans to
spend their money on these alleged rare books and illustrations of
reproductive organs
o The enthusiasm or reading fever generated by these books was
drawing attention away from more serious intellectual endeavours
- Men read books by important socialists thinkers, important literary works;
women books and articles about sex > reading of such books as female so as
to render it unworthy of respectable men
- 1920’s Korea (like western Europe) witnessed the development of sexology,
which sought to cure abnormalities in sexuality through clinical treatment
- medical products > marketed (magic bullet)
- pharmaceutical products outsold commodities like makeup and clothing
- medical products dominated two-thirds of all newspaper ads, making
medicine the most profitable enterprise in the colony
- ^ as a result of hypochondriac trait in Koreans, poor health of young children
(from practice of early marriages)
- In addition, newspapers and journals devoted significant space to advice
columns
o Provide greater info on sex to Korean public
o This venue of sex confession played a significant role in the
subjugation and control of sexuality
o Some of the so called experts were Japs…koreans confessed their
sexual practices to the very colonial authorities who sought to reform
and control the Korean body
o Power relations came into play when Korean women (the colonized)
turn to colonial authorities as experts. The question is not about the
advice he gave but the very interaction that took place: the colonized
turning to colonial authorities for knowledge
o Korean medical authorizes promoted use of contraceptives but
frowned upon the restrictions of male sexual pleasure made their
views clear in their advice columns.
o Jap docs promoted the most effective contraceptives (condoms) but
Koreans often preferred the methods tht were least inconvenient for
men.
- in addition, the press utilized questionnaires to access public opinions,
attitudes and knowledge about a wide range of issues and to distinguish
normative ideas about sex and sexuality from pathological aspects
o in attempt to gauge women’s view of sex, a reporter from Samch’olli
visited a school in 1932 to survey female students
divided subjects 2 groups: [1] the bourgeoise (daughters of
company directors, landlords, wealthy merchants, and
nobility) [2] the proletariat (girls who would support their
parents and siblings after graduating from school and
daughters of middle class families)
both classes shared some attitudes
neither cared whether their male partners were virgins
or felt the need to engage in premarital sex
issues of love and marriage:
98% of b > expressed need for love
67% of p
73% of p > expressed an intent to seek employment, compared
with a minority of their bourgeois counterparts (7%)
privileged women declared that motherhood was their
primary goal shortly after marriage 89%
working class did not consider children an immediate priority
37% of p and 79% of b > know about contraceptives
**^ not surprising bc until the 1930’s, knowledge about
sexuality and reproductive was the sole domain of the privilege
classes, who could read and had access to print literature
Foucault describes b > sexed and healthy body
o 1930’s > new mission > instill desire for motherhood in the working
classes and restore the reproductive of bodies to natural levels
- research institutes (= kenkyukai) and social investigators > statistics and
ethnographic info > learning more about Korean ppl > allowed colonial state
and the Jap companies to count, discuss and ultimately manage the Korean
masses more readily
- Another group of aspiring reformers: Korean medical and science
professionals who sought to buttress and legitimize new social ideas and
programs with scientific language and evidence
- ^ revealed little about their identity > rarely used real names > pen
names/anonymous/doctors
o reflects the Korean medical’s weak status during that time
- government general > enrolled Jap students in the newly established medical
schools in Korea > to alleviate the oversupply of qualified docs in Japan > less
affluent Jap medical students opted to begin their careers in Korea
- Koreans competed with Jap (enjoyed preferential status) for admission..faced
stricter qualification requirements
- Doctor’s Ordinance > recognized only Korean docs who had graduated from
recognized Government-general med schools and passed the state board
examination
- By 1915, Korean students no longer enjoyed tuition waivers, making it
impossible for many to enroll in the prestigious Gov-general schools
- ^those who could, studied abroad (536 Koreans > abroad for medical
degrees)