Doctoral Program, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies,
The University of Tokyo
Key Words: Yadam, popular culture, colonial modernity, continuity, simultaneity, total war system
This thesis analyses the continuity and simultaneity of colonial modernity in Korean popular culture from the mid 1920s to 1945 by examining Yadam, a traditional narrative and performance genre. This research challenges the existing interpretation that the popular culture of what was seen as "splendid modernity" in the 1920s-1930s ended with the Sino-Japanese War starting in 1937. By excluding diverse aspects of wartime popular culture, the existing perspective more dramatically emphasizes an antagonistic relationship between Japanese "exploitation" and the "resistance of colonial people".
This research analyzed Yadam texts and articles from magazines (2 types of specialized Yadam magazines and other popular magazines) and newspapers during the colonial period. These sources were examined using text analysis and discourse analysis. It discovered that, rather than being used as a means of wartime Japanese propaganda, Yadam continued its popularity during the war, and the war itself was the driving force for its popularity. In other words, taking advantage of the Japanese total war system, Yadam had a wider range of circulation. This trend is not unique to Colonial Korea but is found simultaneously in Japan and its other colonies under the total war system. This, however, does not deny the existence of Japanese wartime propaganda in the 1940s. Japanese ruling power intended to use Yadam for war mobilization, but there were different expectations among Japan (the propaganda sender), Yadam producers and consumers. This conflict, related to the production and consumption of Yadam, created an unintended opportunity for Korean popular culture during the wartime.