From emigration to immigration: A transpacific reading of Korean and Korean American literature and film
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This dissertation comprises critical practices to discuss literary and filmic works that challenge or reinforce what I call one-way politics in cross-cultural transactions between two geopolitical entities, Korea and America. It examines literary and filmic works by Korean authors: O Cho ng-hui, Pak Wan-so and Jae-eun Jeong, and Korean American authors: Chang-rae Lee, Myung Mi Kim, Sook Nyul Choi, Frances Park and Ginger Park, and Linda Sue Park. The one-way politics is an inevitable part of America's westward frontier movement, leading to its neo-colonial interventions to Asia and the post-war U.S. global hegemony. The Korea-America cultural transactions under one-way politics predominantly flow from America to Korea and are characterized by Orientalism, anti-communism, English-monoligualism and American exceptionalism. This project aims to disturb the dominance of one-way politics and to illuminate other routes that allow multidirectional traffic in cultural transactions between Korea and America. The Korean and Korean American literary, and filmic works under examination show that South Korean people have been straddling between conformation and resistance to the one-way politics. By reading their works in a transpacific perspective that I posit in the conceptual phrase, "from emigration to immigration," I will re-vision Korea-America transpacific cultural transactions and suggest the possibility of their ceaseless cross-multiplication. The transpacific perspective under the conceptual dynamics of emigration and immigration ultimately leads to a diasporic consciousness that refuses an identity and a cultural production fixed on settlement, property and propriety under the custodian of a nation-state. It offers a theoretical vehicle for conceptualizing a subject and a community in motion ("of becoming") as well as its infinite movement of territorialization and deterritorialization in global cultural economy. In addition, this project challenges the disciplinary partition between Asian American Studies and Asian Studies, by crossing the literary and political subjects split between them. This cross-disciplinary critical practice will defeat the English-monoligualism haunting the two fields and respond to the paradigm shifts in the era of global capitalism and racism. Moreover, it will initiate numerous transpacific cultural conversations whose productivity reaches beyond the Korea-America bilingual scheme that this project tactically adopts.