Kyoung-Hoon Lee


Yonsei University

Kubo as Non-identity

Pak Taewŏn's modernology and Honbura confront the concept of identity of which Yi Kwangsu's is most representative. While emphasizing the first-person plural 'we' Yi tries to return to the nation, Pak Taewŏn's character Kubo wanders around the city finding Yobos or snobs entirely different from himself. To him, Keizo (Seoul) is a place of differentiation, the periphery of the modern world that forces him recognize others as separate entities unrelated to himself, rather than the capital and center of the colonial Korean nation. And what determines the non-identity is the market. Pak cites prices of various commercial goods in his texts. This means that the modern market is the main environment of Pak`s heroes. For example, Kubo, who is familiar with cafés and department stores, is a modern boy as a consumer. Therefore, the walk in the city of Kubo, who buys goods as the first person singular, does not proceed toward national identity or proletarian class consciousness. However, he does not want to be identified with frivolous modern boys who are entirely absorbed in exchange values. Kubo`s modernology and taste make it possible. As a keen observer, he insists on his subjective fondness to be different from the system of quantitative value that totalizes everybody non-individually. But in his attitude, there exists not only pride of university notebook but also a kind of sorrow. It is because modernology itself is a sort of mimicry. Moreover, it is because poor Kubo can't help but exhibit his taste instead of purchasing commercial goods.