This paper deals with the postcolonial consumption of Modern Girl/New Women images and links it to ways of rethinking colonial modernity in Korea and beyond. Key questions to be asked are: What is the fine line that distinguishes certain colonial figures/behaviors as acceptable and/or unacceptable? What are the similarities and differences in the contours of "pro-Japaneseness" in 1930s and 2000s Korea as they appear in public media? What is the role of gender and class in these popular imaginaries both in Korea and elsewhere in East Asia?
Unlike “Blue Swallow (2005),” a harshly criticized film which features the relentless pursuit of personal dreams by Park Kyung-Won (an early Korean female pilot accused of being pro-Japanese) , other Japanese and Korean films and TV dramas featuring Modern Girls and/or New Women against the backdrop of 1930s-1940s Seoul did not get pummeled by public criticism and suffer at the box office. This paper first analyzes postcolonial consumption of Modern Girl/New Woman in contemporary Korean and Japanese films. It then takes us back to late 1920s -1930s Korea in order to examine how Park Kyung-Won and other prominent Korean women of "the Japanese Empire” who drew national attention (including leading Korean modern dancer Choi Seung Hee) were portrayed in Korean newspapers and other writings in the Japanese Empire. Special attention will be given to the different opportunities afforded women and as well as their varying portrayals in media across the empire, exposing transnational obstacles and connections.