Tracing the strange careers of Shina No Yoru in the military contact zone of the Pacific,
Yu Jung LEE
ABSTRACT This article examines the ways in which multiple traditions of camp shows and the overlapping and relational layers of Imperial Japan and U.S. presence in Korea shaped Korean entertainers’ lives after 1945, producing their idiosyncratic performances in response to rapid shifts in Korea’s relations with Japan and the United States in the 1940s-1950s. When the United States sought to reposition Japan at the top of the newly emerging American hegemonic order of Asian countries, Korean entertainers who served the Imperial Japanese Army a few months earlier found themselves performing for American soldiers. The stage of the Korean native camp shows became a “strange and exotic” yet “familiar and even comforting” place where inconsistent logics, such as Imperial Japan’s pan-Asian ideology and American Orientalist fantasy, mingled. Under the complicated legacies of overlapping militarization and colonization in Korea, militarization has constituted a structuring force that enabled Korean women camp show entertainers generating their hybrid performance styles in ironies, contradictions, and complexities. Building on postcolonial theorists’ notion of hybridity, I argue that Korean entertainers’ performances were being shaped or negotiated in contact with different audiences and expectations as well as Korean entertainers attempted to navigate the acceptable ground of performances and womanhood in the constantly changing political and ideological environment.
Keywords: Contact zone; militarization; war; camp show; hybridity; performance; Korean women
Notes to contributor
Yu Jung Lee is currently a research professor for Humanities Korea Research Project, Reconciliation and Coexistence in Contact Zones at Chung Ang University in Seoul, Korea. She graduated from University of Hawaii at Manoa in December 2016, and she is now working on her book project about Imperial Entertainers: Korean Camp Show Entertainers’ under U.S. Hegemony in the continuation of her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests are in the field of American Studies, Asian American Studies, Korean Studies, Popular Culture, Women Studies, and Performance Studies.