Organized Panel Session
This paper will explore economic developmentalism as a social ethos that underpins post-democratic movement growth narratives (sŏngjang sosŏl) by examining a combination of 1960s-1980s utilitarian educational reform that attempted to bolster economic development policies through the creation of a labor market that could support industrial growth and popular discourses of success (ch’ulse) that envisage entry into the recently formed middle class. I argue that these factors have led to a shared understanding of a normative growth experienced by new generation writers who received their education during a time when the social ethos of developmentalism had become hegemonic discourse. Through readings of Chang Chŏng-il’s “When Adam Opens His Eyes” (1990), Paek Min-sŏk’s “Candy Whom I Loved” (1995), and Pak Min-gyu’s The Last Fan Club of Sammi Superstars (2003), I will show how the social ethos of developmentalism is an implied foundational element from which the autodiegetic narrators experience failure. Although Chang and Paek’s novellas are strongly reminiscent of the literary turn to nihilism and narcissism that filled the vacuum in the wake of the 1980s democratic movement, all three narratives are predicated on an implied normative trajectory of growth which the autodiegetic narrators illustrate is incompatible with their realities.