Organized Panel Session
Detective fiction has great capacity to critique socioeconomic reality and its psychological impacts on people in urbanized, industrialized, and consumer driven modern cities as previous studies demonstrated. Although this paper draws on the established studies of the genre, it aims to show how the genre could delineate the contentious nature of the Japanese imperialism at the height of the Pacific War, especially with the figure of doppelgänger. It focuses on Kim Naesŏng, one of the most experimental and influential Korean detective fiction writers of the time, who deployed doppelgänger frequently in his works. It analyzes one of his detective/spy novels, Typhoon(t’aep’ung, 1942-3), that interweaves a spy war between Japan and the West with domestic disputes within colonial Korea. At first glance, the novel seems to promote rationality and spiritual superiority of the Japanese empire, but multiple motif of double such as disguises, impersonation, twins, and double agents in the novel not only raise the question of the incoherency of the imperialist logic but also complicate the boundary between the centre and the periphery and the original and copies by bringing out once hidden or repressed desire of the colonized. This paper pays special attention to the racial and spatial significance of doppelgänger in the spy war, which, I argue, play double functions in the colonial context: a critical response to Japan’s war effort and a mirror of the ambiguity of colonial modernity.