Writing in the Other’s Language: The Case of Jang Hyeok-ju
Literary work by Korean writers in the Japanese language presently has a substantial history and constitutes a genre in its own right. Jang Hyeok-ju (1905-1997) was one of the first authors in this genre. He had a reputation of pro-governmental writer during the Second World War. This image is emphasized by his post-war choice of naturalization in Japan, which contrasts with another writer of the same generation, Kim Sa-ryang, who stopped writing in Japanese and returned to North Korea. However, Jang Heok-ju started his writing career in writing so-called proletarian literature in Japanese. With these opposing stances of proletarian literature and nationalist writing, how should his work be read and understood? How can we be able to understand a Korean writer’s nationalist ecriture? His position can be considered as opportunistic in his choice of Japanese language and assimilation/naturalization to Japan in spite of his capacity to write in two languages: Korean and Japanese. However, Korean writers from this period were forced to write in the ‘Other’s language and this is a perspective that has to be kept in mind when reading Jang Heok-ju.
Mayumi Shimosakai is associate professor at University of Orléans. She graduated from Master Course of Language and Society of Hitotsubashi University and earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature at University of Cergy-Pontoise. She specializes in comparative literature, Algerian literature in French and Zainichi Korean writing. Her recent publications include La défaillance du père: Une étude du Burin de Kim Hak-yeong, de Sang et os de Yang Seok-il et de Jeux de Famille de Yû Miri, Japon Pluriel, 10, Editions Philippe Picquier, 2014.