Alex 알렉스
Professional Teacher
나혜석 - Na Hae-seok - early Korean poetess and feminist - Do young people still know her?
At the moment I'm reading the travelogue by Na Hae-seok, who traveled in 1927 from Busan by train to Europe (I would love to do that). She was very famous in Korea and there were warnings by parents to their daughters of a life style that 'does not befit a woman': You do not want to become a second Na hae-seok, do you?"
While liberal minded Koreans above 40 do remember her as an influential feminist, I am wondering if the younger generations of Koreans do remember her.
Apr 24, 2019 12:16 AM
Comments · 8

I am in my late of 20's. I have no ideas about her but as I remember I've heard her name several times tho.

but it can be also the reason why I'm not fascinated by any poem (politics too)

April 24, 2019
That's true. It was probably not much fun to meet Vincent van Gogh let alone living together with him. I do not want to idolize these early feminists, but try not to judge them to quickly either.
Especially Thoreau is as well idealized a lot (though I like his writings, including Walden a lot). He himself and many people writing about him try to stylize him as a person who lived isolated in the woods. That was absolutely not true, he had many contacts with the nearby village and often stayed there during the day and returned back home in the evening. But his book has many insights and passages (e.g. his bean field) which I like a lot. The world needs heroes, that's why people's real life gets distorted by journalists or other writers.
April 25, 2019
@ walden (is your name a reference to Thoreau's book 'Walden'?

I understand your point of view, but feel that such outbursts are at times the reaction to a very oppressive environment. Look at the French novel 'Madame Bovary' by Flaubert, she is acting out, like youngsters in puberty do (thinking during spring - I love this Korean expression for puberty). In the 19th century many women, who are regarded today as feminist such as George Sand, Lou Andreas-Salome (friend of Rainer Maria Rilke) or Madame de Stael from France were disliked by their contemporaries to a certain degree, that is the fate of trail blazers. Feminist such as Emma Goldmann and Simone de Beauvoir built on these women, they have laid an important foundation on the way to emancipation. From today's point of view it seems horrible just to leave your kids. I have two kids on my own and would not leave them, but I do not want to judge these women just because of this.
April 25, 2019
She was born in the end of 19th century, harsh old regime for women as like Western countries. She resisted the Korean society, critiquing and rejecting the traditional "good wife, good mother" archetype. She was the first female professional painter and the first feminist writer in Korea.

Well, it is amazing for a delicate woman to resist the powerful social system at that time, not minding people's blames. However, her value is only this: first feminist in Korea. She had not achieved any remarkable artistic results. Her paintings stayed amateur painter's level. And she cheated on her devoted husband and young children for illicit love. Individually, I think she had just a vanity that she considered herself a woman of the new age, and as a result, she died sick helplessly on the street. When Koreans remember her as a brave feminist or pioneer, I just see a silly, vain woman.
April 25, 2019
Yes, Walden is H.D.Thoreau's book. It's my all time favorite book.

Yes, maybe I sound moralistic or strict. I am just trying to say that people miss to grasp some truth about someone's life. I do not want to judge right or false here. Just saying that it must not be beautifulized whatever. She might be a pioneer or just a woman of vanity. People blame resisters and revolutionists and next time admire them in illusion. See van Gogh. I love his paintings so much. But now he is almost a myth. He might be a social loser suffering from mental diseases and eccentric personality, but today his social misfit is considered a characteristics of a genius. People are like this. In conclusion, my point is that we need to see reality, not illusion, standing back from glamorization or derogation.
April 25, 2019
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