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Sociological Portrait of the middle classes of Seoul in Wanseo PARK’s short stories

Abstract : In this paper, I will discuss on the sociological representations of the urban middle classes’ life in the literary works of a South-Korean novelist, Wan-suh Park (1931-2011). This writer outlines a relevant portrait of the middle classes of Seoul to the 1970s-1980s, particularly in her short stories. Based in Seoul for education in the early 1940s, and definitely uprooted by the Korean War, installed with an established family in the center of the middle classes, she published her first novelette at the age of 40. Her personal residential and social mobility show us a particularity of the middle class of Seoul. Park often uses her personal anecdotes as examples of a modernizing society. Similarly, this brilliant storyteller often adopts the voices of her protagonists in first-person, without trying to complete the adventures of her heroes/heroins. I would like to make three fold analysis of those monologues. First, there are the evolutions of lifestyles, customs and social consciousness in accordance with the remarkable expansion of the middle class thanks to the rapid post-war industrialization in South Korea. Second, Parks autobiographic writing reveals her position as an observer and listener of herself as a middle-class housewife for 18 years in her mundane everyday world. And she was able to turn the actors ‘storytellers’ who unbosom their anxiety through their spontaneous and vital languages. Finally, I will attempt to apply her ‘methods’ and the ‘collective memory’ of 1970-1980s in sociological research on today’s middle class of Seoul.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 2:02:51 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-01564006, version 1


Jaeeun Park. Sociological Portrait of the middle classes of Seoul in Wanseo PARK’s short stories. Third International Conference of NextGen Korean Studies Scholars , Nam Center for Korean Studies, May 2015, Ann Arbor, United States. ⟨halshs-01564006⟩



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