Organized Panel Session
In 1935 Kang Kyŏng-ae, a Korean resident of Manchuria, published a short story about a young woman who heads into the mountains looking for the communist guerrillas. Carrying a baby on her back, mother and child walk into an oncoming snowstorm. These mountains on the border of Manchuria and the northern reaches of Korea are the same fabled mountains that sheltered Kim Il-Sung’s small band of guerrilla fighters. Like the communist partisans whose story she told, Kang’s fiction survived to thrive in communist North Korea. In early issues of North Korean magazines Chosŏn Nyŏsŏng and Ch’ŏllima, Kang’s classic factory girl novel was featured alongside articles that promoted her work as the grist for a new communist subjectivity. But it represented more than a solely North Korean ideal. The translation and circulation of Kang Kyŏng-ae’s fiction around the post-War communist bloc is a rare example of the ‘worlding’ of North Korean literature during the Cold War. This paper examines the unique circumstances by which Kang’s literature in North Korea provided a cultural archive for the traumatic Manchurian experience while in the communist bloc her works translated into German, Spanish, Russian and Chinese contributed to an international socialist culture.