In 2018, feminism was the hottest political topic in Korea. Tens of thousands of women poured into streets and rallied against hidden cameras, revenge porns, and sentencing disparity. Discourses on women’s rights—including gender roles, beauty standards, and fair wages—also became prevalent in Korean social media. As our writers noted in this issue’s interviews, Korean women in their late teens and early twenties are indeed growing up with a different outlook on gender equality, which is a hopeful sign of change. Unfortunately, misunderstanding of feminism and intolerance to the new power paradigm have also been equally rampant.
And this is why I believe this year to be an appropriate time to share stories of women, written by women. Thus, in this issue of Nabillera, “Feminist Short Stories of Korea,” we will cover the following four stories: Choi Jung Wha’s “Everything in Its Place,” which illustrates how a world selected and created by a female protagonist still carries the remnants of “what is not her”; Gu Byeongmo’s “Mirrorism,” which challenges male privilege through an ingenious plot while realistically presenting the deep-seated misogyny of our society; “Mars Child,” in which Kim Seong Joong demonstrates how sisterhood may help the victims of human violence come together and survive in a barren land; and “Barbie Vibes,” where Park Min Jung sharply diagnoses the development of technology and new literacy while also exploring its effect on the gender power dynamic.
By translating and introducing the works of these young and established novelists, I hope not only to present the recent trend in Korean literature, but also to channel the voices of Korean women around the globe and empower their movement. At the same time, I want to emphasize that the value of these works extends beyond the label “feminism.” These four writers hail from different places, and each has expertise in different genres. What ties their uniqueness together is that they decided to write about women as women—however, this by no means indicates that their works are homogenous.
Before I end this note, I also want to acknowledge our volunteer translators, reviewers, and copyeditors, whose names are shared below. I also want to thank the Korean authors, who were so generous in entrusting their works to us and sparing time to respond to the written interviews. Finally, I want to extend a special thanks to Jen Lee, who benevolently let us use her drawing “우리는 할 수 있다 [We Can Do It]” as a site header. I encourage everyone to check out more of her work at http://nabitoki.com.
And now, without further ado, I present the third issue of Nabillera: Contemporary Korean Literature. Please enjoy!
Suhyun Jeong Ahn
P.S. While Nabillera whole-heartedly supports feminism, we do not endorse any so-called feminist movement that perpetuates hatred and prejudice against people with disabilities, those on low-income, LGBT+ individuals, or any other minority group. We support dignity, respect, and justice for all!
Winter 2018’s contributors
Suhyun Jeong Ahn
Jae Hyung Woo
Featured image is licensed under CC0