When Camera Encountered ‘Chosŏn Beauties’: Kisaeng Photographs, Tourism, and Postcards from the 1880s to Colonial-Period Korea

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter contributes to an under-researched topic: kisaeng 妓生 (Korean female entertainers or courtesans) in early photographs of Korea associated with tourism. It examines the photographic representation of kisaeng from the perspectives of American travelers and Japanese colonial agents respectively. The second section focuses on the period between the 1880s and 1910 when Korea began to open up to the world. It explores the earliest photographic records of kisaeng through the lens of American travelers, set parallel to descriptions from their travel writings. The third section, set during the colonial period (1910‑45), identifies a repertoire of visual practices associated with nation-building politics that celebrated kisaeng as idealized and civilized ‘Chosŏn Beauties’, or icons of traditional Korean culture, through the medium of photographic postcards initiated by the Japanese colonizers. It argues that such practices, relying on resources drawn from Korean entertainment culture, attempted to reshape Korea’s national identity and create an imagery of a ‘feminized’ Korea under Japanese colonial rule.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural Exchanges Between Korea and the West
Subtitle of host publicationArtifacts and Intangible Heritage
EditorsJong-Chol An, Ariane Perrin
Place of PublicationVenice
PublisherEdizioni Ca' Foscari
Chapter8
Pages175-198
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9788869697173
ISBN (Print)9788869697180
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameStudi e ricerche
Volume32

User-Defined Keywords

  • Korean photography
  • postcard
  • tourism
  • kisaeng
  • nation building

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'When Camera Encountered ‘Chosŏn Beauties’: Kisaeng Photographs, Tourism, and Postcards from the 1880s to Colonial-Period Korea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this