Education About Asia

The Korean War and Beyond, in Modern Korean Fiction

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Modern Korean literature lends itself especially well to teaching about modern Korea, for it is largely an issue-driven literature. To be sure, Korean literature is heir to a centuries-old tradition of aesthetics that has produced an important body of art-for-art’s-sake literature. But there is also a tradition of didacticism in Korean literature, a need felt by the literati-statesmen traditionally responsible for written literature to prove their mastery of literary forms (a skill one needed to pass the civil service exam that opened the door to positions in the government bureaucracy), and in modern times to enlighten the citizenry to the harsh realities that have informed much of modern
Korean history.

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