Eonmun-ilch’i or the Translation of Modernity: Yu Kil-Chun’s Textual Style-Shifting Strategy in His Evening School Primer(1908) in Fin-de-Siècle Korea

Cited 0 time in webofscience Cited 0 time in scopus
  • Hit : 21
  • Download : 0
In fin-de-siècle Korea, intellectuals used han-mun (classical Chinese writing) to communicate among themselves, and with intellectuals from China and Japan. As they felt the need to disseminate modern ideas and educate ordinary people, they started to develop literary strategies to translate han-mun to han-gŭl (Korean writing) which was easier to learn and had the possibility of directly reflecting the spoken vernacular. My presentation examines these literary strategies of textual style-shifting, using examples from the writings of Yu Kil-chun, who was fluent in multiple languages but in his writings used han-mun, han-gŭl, and hon-yong-ch’e, a third combined form for translations. These style-shifting strategies reflect Yu Kil-chun’s ideas about language, literacy, and social hierarchy at the time, which the circle of progressive enlightened intellectuals shared. Especially, his primer for common people written in han-gŭl experiments with various speech genres and conveys his views on social order, or the ‘four divisions of society’ and their respective roles in making a stronger modernized country. The conversational format of the primer simulates an enlightening conversation between an intellectual and a worker, with the worker’s responding voice addressing the intellectual with a different honorific register. Yu’s attempt towards eonmun-ilch’i (言文一致) or to unify speech and writing, is valuable and quite successful in realistically reflecting the vernacular at the time. I would argue that Yu's idealized view of society and his representation of ordinary people show an idealized multivocal world in which the gaze of the elite projected ambivalence towards both disciplining and empowering ordinary people.
Association for Asian Studies
Issue Date

AAS Annual Conference

Appears in Collection
HSS-Conference Papers(학술회의논문)
Files in This Item
There are no files associated with this item.


  • mendeley


rss_1.0 rss_2.0 atom_1.0