Chin Sok Chong


Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Development of Mass Media and Modernity in 1920s

In the 1920s, newspapers and magazines in Korea played a pivotal role in ushering in nationalism and cultural movements. The media were instrumental in introducing foreign concepts and culture to a wider Korean audience and bringing in literature, art, sports, and various other facets of cultural activities to the general public. They also introduced and imported overseas literature to the country. Newspapers drove and provided the catalyst for the modernization of everyday life and acted as a voice for abolishing the bad old ways. While all of the above is true, newspapers were not only about progress. The media were vigilant regarding hasty changes and called for the defense of positive traditional values. Of all the newspaper campaigns, the eradication of public illiteracy was the centerpiece of the modernization drive. The aim of the campaign was to instil nationalism in the minds of countrymen through educating the masses. Even under Japanese colonial rule, Korean society was undergoing rapid social changes, set off by modernization, Westernization, urbanization, and industrialization. During this turmoil, newspapers acted as a watchman, criticizing as well encouraging changes. In summary, newspapers in the 1920s acted as a bridge bringing enlightenment to the early modernization of Korea and a stage where new literature and ideas could be encouraged. In this study, I intend to examine how modernity in Korea was brought about via newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, and advertisements.