Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished ManuscriptAbstract: What do we think of Korean womens experiences that fall outside the interests of nationalists? This paper is inspired by the question. The debates on new women I will explore in this paper reside in public narratives on the nature of new women in the Korean womens magazine Shingajong (New Family) from January 1933-August 1934. Many articles in the popular magazine of the 1930s attempted to adopt a reformist discourse on educated new women but simultaneously condemning new womens adoption of western ideas of sexual liberation and gender equality. While the modernizing male nationalists acknowledged the need for womens education and their involvement in the movement, they resisted a radical restructuring of gender relations, especially when what women wanted and acquired from the nationalist movement was not confined to the cause of nationalism.
The terms of new womens arguments centered on issues of sexual liberation and the adoption of western fashion styles. I argue that new womens configuration of womens liberation and power structure within Korean society led them to individualistic modes of negotiating their identity and claiming agency. Much of the public censure and the symbolic social death of new women came from societys male-centered critique that marginalized the ways that new women actively negotiated and resisted the social and familial constraints upon them.