Modern domesticity in colonial-era Korea (1910-1945) has generally been understood using the twin parameters of nationalism and colonialism. Much less attention has been paid to the impact of a transpacific network, mainly between the US and Korea through the Christian missionary societies, on the formation of modern domesticity before, during and after Japanese colonial rule. In this presentation, I examine the ways in which Korea’s modern domesticity was shaped by not only Japanese colonial policies but also the notion of modernity that was transmitted, reinterpreted and performed through the transpacific network that had formed among the Korean elite and American missionaries. Taking the idea of “modern home” as a key locus where national, colonial and missionary projects converged, I demonstrate how the intimate private sphere was rendered as one of the most dynamic sites for uncovering the confluence of interaction between the local, the national and the global.
Hyaeweol Choi is the Professor of Korean Studies and Director of the Korea Institute at Australian National University. She is the author of Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways (University of California, 2014). Her most recent co-edited book is Gender in Modern East Asia (Westview, 2016).