South Korea In The 1960S Was A Time Of Political Turmoil

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South Korea in the 1960s was a time of political turmoil as the nation has just experienced perhaps its most significant historical event: The Korean War. The two Koreas, South and North Korea, were already separated before the conflict but the war created new social and ideological hostilities in the minds of the nations and its people. The Korean War was an important transition point in terms of defining the national identity of individuals experiencing the event. According to Kelly Jeong, given Korea’s strong history of patriarchal social order, the state, both South and North, believes “nation as a collective, universally male subject” (129). When defining Korea’s national identity as a largely masculine one, then it could be said that…show more content…
Cheol-ho’s impotency is symbolized through his low-wage job and his incessant toothache, both of which he never resolves. Meanwhile, Yeong-ho’s powerlessness is seen through his unemployment and constant disavowal of his situation.
The Song family, particularly Cheol-ho and Yeong-ho, are North Koreans who reside in the South. They represent individuals who suffer from lack of sense of belonging caused by leaving their homeland and relocating to a new nation. Often, when one feels that they do not belong in an environment, then naturally the individual will feel lost and without a stable identity. Kelly Jeong describes that after the war, the relocation and displacement of population as well as political and social turmoil led to a “narrowly-defined masculine ideal”: men should be either part of the military as soldiers or join the elite class as an intellectual (134). There was little room for other masculine identities. After the Korean War, neither Cheol-ho or Yeong-ho belonged in either of the two masculine categories. Cheol-ho, being an accountant, was not an intellectual who uses wisdom to fit in the “new” Korean society. Yeong-ho, as a laid off war veteran, was also not an intellectual or a soldier. As a result, the two brothers have lost not only their masculine identities, but also their sense of belonging in their new “home”. As

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