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Lee, Seoung Yun (2023) Rethinking "comfort women" in Historical Fiction: A Multidisciplinary Study on Korean and Korean American Novels. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This research examines how “comfort women” are represented in Korean and Korean American novels. An analysis of the works reveals different methods of representations of “comfort women” between Korean and Korean American historical fiction. I examine the Korean American works by Nora Okja Keller, Therese Park, Chang-rae Lee, Kalliope Lee and Mary Lynn Bracht, published between 1997 and 2018. My analysis of Korean novels focuses mainly on the works by Kim Sum with references to other Korean works on the issue. This study finds that Korean American novels generally contain more fictional elements that allow readers to reimagine the lives of the victims and re-contextualise the collective memory of “comfort women”, On the other hand, Korean novels provide contextualised narratives of the victim-survivors with incorporation of details collected from historical records and the victims’ testimonies. I also analyse how the Korean American works localise and Americanise the “comfort women” issue while the Korean novels appear more nationalistic with their characterisation of “comfort women”. This dissertation aims to study the similarities and differences in Korean and Korean American novels on “comfort women”, considering issues surrounding memory, history, diaspora, nationalism, and subaltern.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Grace Koh, Rachel Harrison and Owen Miller
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2023 16:02

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