The Nak Chung Thun Archive and Global Korean Literature: 2nd International Symposium

April 13, 2023 - April 13, 2023
Doheny Memorial Library

The Nak Chung Thun Archive and Global Korean Literature

The Nak Chung Thun Archive and Global Korean Literature

The Nak Chung Thun Archive and Global Korean Literature

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 Thursday, April 13, 2023
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
University Park Campus
Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

Thursday, April 13 | 2:00 - 6:00 PM | Doheny Memorial Library 240 | FLYER Registration

Born in Pyongan Province in today's North Korea, Nak Chung Thun (1875-1953) immigrated to California via Hawaii in 1907, settling in Riverside and working as a laborer for most of his life. Until his passing in 1953, Thun privately wrote epic fiction and short stories in his native tongue, leaving behind a literary state that is today a precious discovery for both Korean and Korean American literary historians. The Thun Archive became part of the collections of USC's East Asian Library in 2004. Comprised of three long novels, six short stories, and six essays, the Archive is of intrinsic literary interest and also offers an unprecedented window into the experience of Korean immigrants in Southern California at the beginning of the 20th century.

Organized under the aegis of the USC Libraries Collection Convergence Initiative (CCI), this symposium aims to contribute to defining the significance of the Nak Chung Thun Archive within the context of global Korean literature. Of particular interest this year will be the recent publication of two Korean-language volumes of selected writings from the archive. Also, the symposium will feature the presentation of plans for the first English translation of Thun's works. In the course of nine presentations, scholars, researchers, editors, and translators from South Korea and the United States will address the diverse formal and thematic aspects of the Thun Archive as well as discuss other examples of border-crossing Korean literature, opening up in the process to the reflection on the layered relationship between national, diasporic, and minor literatures. 

The symposium is sponsored by the USC Libraries Collections Convergence InitiativeReconciliation Coexistence in Contact ZonesDepartment of East Asian Languages and CulturesEast Asian Studies CenterCenter for Transpacific Studies, and Department of American Studies and Ethnicity


2:00-2:10 pm - Congratulatory Remarks by William Francis Deverell (Director, USC Libraries Collection Convergence Initiative)

2:10-2:20PM - Opening Remarks by Sunyoung Park

Panels I and II moderated by Sunyoung Park

2:20-3:20 pm - Panel I. Publishing and Translating the Nak Chung Thun Archive

Kenneth Klein - “Rescuing Memory: Korean American Archives at USC”

Jae-moon Hwang - “An Editorial Overview of Nak Chung Thun’s Manuscripts”

Kyunghee Eo - Select readings of Thun’s writings in English translation

3:30-4:30 pm Panel II. Tradition and Modernity in Thun’s Diasporic Writings

Ji-young Yi - “Writing Vernacular Korean Fiction in 1920s Southern California: Nak Chung Thun’s The Tale of Hong Chungnae

Woohyung Chon - “Love and Modernity in Nak Chung Thun’s Literary Imagination”

Yoon Sun Yang - “A Poor Yet Glamorous 'Oriental' Man: Nak Chung Thun's Transpacific Gangster Fiction ”

4:30-4:50 pm Coffee Break

Panel III moderated by Hayun Cho

4:50-5:50 pm Panel III. Rethinking the National and the Transnational in Korean

Literature and History

Myung Ho Hyun - “The Vacillation of Border: A Study on Pak Yong Hak, an Asian Immigrant in Early-20th-Century America”

Myungju Kang -“Transidentity in Diasporic Storytelling: Julia Riew’s Dive

Jaewuk Kim - “Between Two Worlds: The Making of Queer Dream-Spatiality in Bae Suah’s Fiction”

Panelists' Bios

Hayun Cho is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. She is currently working on her dissertation which explores the testimonial politics of emotion in South Korean women’s literature and film. Her research interests include transnational and women of color feminisms, postcolonialism, emotion and affect, and gender and sexuality.

Woohyung Chon is associate professor of the Institute for Historical Studies at Chung-Ang University in South Korea. His research focuses on the intermediation between fiction and film in modern Korea. Recently, his research interest has extended to genealogical studies of literature and film representing borders and contact zones. His recent English language publications include “Candlelight Documentary as the Cultural Politics of Recording and Memorizing, and the Emergence of the Candlelight Plaza” in the Korea Journal (December 2018) and “The Vernacular Aesthetics of Conte Adaptations of Western Films in Late Colonial Korea” in the Journal of Korean Studies (December 2015). Dr. Chon’s Korean language publications include, among many others, a monograph Cine-roman in Colonial Era Chosŏn (2014).

Kyunghee Eo is assistant professor of Korean at the Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her BA and MA from Yonsei University and her PhD from the University of Southern California. Her book project, The Erotics of Purity: A Cultural History of the South Korean Girl Aesthetic, examines the erotic practices of female celibacy and platonic same-sex love that emerged out of South Korean girl culture. She is also working on the English translation of Nak Chung Thun (1875-1953), an early twentieth century Korean immigrant to Southern California. In her second research project, she will explore South Korean erotica and pornographic cultures to contemplate how freedom was conceptualized vis-à-vis sexuality by writers and artists living under the authoritarian regimes of South Korea.

Jae-moon Hwang is associate professor in the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies at the Seoul National University. He is the author of The Critical Biography of Ahn Jung-geun (Hangyoreh Publishing, 2011) and the translator of History of the Origins of Things in the World: Encyclopedia of Traditional and Modern Knowledge (Hangyoreh Publishing, 2014) and Brief Encyclopedia from 19th-century Chosŏn (Ac’anet,  2020). He also edited and translated Righteous Robber: Selected Works of Nak Chung Thun (Somyung books, 2020). He has written articles on Korean diaspora literatures in the United States and in China, including “The Question of Tradition in Korean American Newspapers in 1905-1910” and “Reformist Visions in Early Korean American Literature.”  Currently, he is researching on the representations of historical figures and events in both fiction and non-fictional writings such as biographies and memoirs.

Myung Ho Hyun is research professor at the Institute for the Study of Korean Modernity at Yonsei University in South Korea. He has taught modern East Asian history and Korean language at New York University and global borderlands history and English readings in the Graduate School of International Studies at Chung-Ang University. His research focuses on the urban and labor histories of East Asia, with a particular interest in the modern history of northern Korea. He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled Northern Korea’s First Global Border City: Wonsan, 1880-1937.

Myungju Kang is research professor at the Institute for Historical Studies at Chung-Ang University in South Korea. She is interested in diasporic literature and in the formation and expression of hybrid identities through transnational and transcultural storytelling practices. Her articles have appeared in critical anthologies including Cultural Diversity and Education (Kyŏngjin, 2021) and Classic Tales and Webtoon Storytelling (Kyŏngjin, 2021). Currently, Kang is conducting research on the transmedia storytelling of Korean America.

Jaewuk Kim is a Ph.D. student in East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. His research interests lie in modern and contemporary South Korean avant-garde literature and film, particularly with a focus on Dadaism and Surrealism. He is the author of “Surrealistic Science Fiction in South Korean Film and Fiction” (part of USC Libraries’ Digital Exhibition, Science Fiction in Korea: Between History, Genre, and Politics and the translator of Yi Seong-bok’s poetry in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture 15: 291-297 (University of Hawai’i Press, 2022).

Kenneth Klein retired as the Head of USC's East Asian Library in 2020, after serving in that position for almost 37 years. He joined the Library with a background in Chinese History (PhD UCLA, 1980), with fields in Japanese and Russian history. Many of his salient contributions, however, were in the building of USC's Korean Heritage Library, and most particularly in launching and developing the Korean American Digital Archive (KADA). This open access resource includes over 24,000 assets (documents, photographs, oral history recordings), among the most recent of which are the early files of the Korean National Association (KNA) and the unpublished manuscript writings of Nak-Chung Thun. The preservation of both of these collections were the result of over fifteen years of negotiations and persistence.

Sunyoung Park is associate professor in the departments of East Asian Languages and Cultures and of Gender Studies and Sexuality at the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Proletarian Wave: Literature and Leftist Culture in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2015) and the editor of Revisiting Minjung: New Perspectives on the Cultural History of 1980s South Korea (University of Michigan Press, 2019). In synergy with her research, Park is also active as an editor and translator of Korean fiction into English, which has resulted, among others, in the publication of three collections of short stories: On the Eve of the Uprising and Other Stories from Colonial Korea (Cornell East Asian Series, 2010); Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of Science Fiction from South Korea (Kaya Press, 2019); and On the Origin of Species and Other Stories by Bo-Young Kim (Kaya Press, 2021). She is currently writing a monograph on science fiction and the politics of modernization in South Korea.

Yoon Sun Yang is associate professor of Korean & Comparative Literature and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Boston University. Her book From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men: Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Asia Center, 2017) won the James B. Palais Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2020. She is also the editor of the Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean Literature (2020). Currently, she is translating early colonial Korean short stories and essays published between 1907 and 1918 (for the MLA Texts and Translations series) while working on two book-length studies: “Transpacific Palimpsests: Early Twentieth-Century Korean Migrant Literature between Two Empires” and “Beyond the Medical Gaze: Sexuality and Illness in Korean Literature.”

Ji-young Yi is professor in the department of Korean Language and Literature at the Chungbuk National University. Her research interests include premodern Korean literature, women’s literature, and Korean American literature written in Korean. She has translated Cha’ngsŏn kamŭirok [Praise of goodness and commendation of righteousness] from classical Chinese into Korean with annotation and a critical introduction (Paju: Munhak tongne, 2010) and has also published a number of Korean-language articles including “History as Fiction in Chosŏn Vernacular Novels,” Classical Korean Fiction Studies 50 (2020): 111-137, “Storytelling in Metaverse,” Journal of Oral Literature 62(2021): 5-32, and a series of studies on the Nak Chun Chung Archive.