- field work conducted at Hallym University and Yonsei University, May 2006 and at Kyobo Bookshop, Spring 2007
- To be read, Aoyagi, 2005, the island of eight million smiles…
Two or three opening remarks
- Literature may be considered as a peculiar object of idolatry in the branch of pop culture, yet some contemporary writers’ novels will be considered as object of pop culture.
- Since pop culture usually involves individuals (i.e. singers, actors), that incarnate/embody the object of desire in the eyes of their fans, what may motivate/or be the focus of interest, in literature, might be then the narrative, a characteristic shared with television serials for instance.
- Literature and television serials may share one characteristic in common: the language of emotions. What explains the success of Korean dramas, for instance, is the very fact that Korean actors express naturally their emotions (field trip, Japan, Spring 2006). Korean dramas were often dubbed as “tearjerkers” for that particular reason. Serials have managed to overcome the frontier/hurdle of language, cultural differences to speak to people’s heart (to be developed in a coming paper on Korean audiovisual production and tears, 2007).
Japanese contemporary literature: why should it be an object of critical interest?
- pop culture is quite pervasive in our everyday lives, yet the presence of J pop in Korea should be qualified because of the quota systems and the long ban on Japanese pop culture in Korea
- “popular” Japanese pop culture commodities in Korea: mangas, J Pop, dramas, entertainment programs. So, what room is left for Japanese literature? Why should it be deemed as a “popular” Japanese pop culture?
- Contemporary literature as a new weapon of soft power (Nye, 2004) for Japan
- Japanese literature, the threshold to a more Japanese-scented cultural commodity (reference to the concept of cultural odour, Iwabuchi, 2002), the acceptance of the Japanese identity in cultural contents
Japanese literature fans in South Korea: who are you?
- mainly popular among the youth (high school student, college students), as well as young adults (see pictures for proof) in South Korea
- both genders are represented, though it may be thought that Japanese literature could first and foremost appeal to feminine audiences
Japanese literature fans in South Korea: why do you read such novels?
- an apathy towards local literature, deemed as obscure, complex (interviews conducted in Spring 2006)
- a fresh insight of the Japanese society, as some of the novels give clues about the contemporary everyday life in Japan… though these clues sometimes only reflect the effects of nowadays globalisation process. You want to see in someone else’s culture what you already have in your own culture. Grass always seems greener in the neighbour’s garden…
Final disclaimer: this is only the beginning…
- these remarks emanate from a few interviews conducted in Spring 2006 and “ethnographic” observation in bookshops, as well as Japanese/Korean newspapers articles on this rather recent phenomenon
- it should be completed by statistical work through semi-conducted interviews
- it should be completed by in-depth interviews conducted among Korean readers of Japanese literature
- current main hurdle for the research: my poor Korean language abilities, as well as Koreans’ shyness when it comes to speaking in English!
- Aim of the field during Spring 2007-Summer 2007:
· elaborate a questionnaire in Korean, to be submitted to Korean people, randomly if possible
· chase for Korean readers fond of Japanese literature... may this blog/website be the interface for that purpose too… So, if you are a Korean fan of Japanese literature, came by chance to this page, and feel like chatting with me (face to face interview, msn chat, skype chat), do feel free to leave me a comment on this page so that I can contact you. Well, of course, any Asian interested in Japanese contemporary literature is an interesting subject of interview in case I enlarge the scope of my study…
Cheers to all, Aska