So-Hee Lee

Hanyang Women's University

"Korean Kollontai" Heo Jeong-Sook and the Women's Movement in 1920s and 1930s Korea

The diverse trends of thought such as liberalism, radicalism, socialism, and communism affected the formation of the New Women in the period of Japan's colonial rule of Korea. Socialist and communist New Women of this period actively participated in the organization of feminist movements in 1920s and 1930s colonial Korea. They introduced socialist and communist theories on women and interpreted and applied them accordingly in view of the colonial reality of the day. On the other hand, they criticized the limitation of the modernization project proposed by liberalist women and instead set their own alternative modernity, which was considered as the serious importance of the role of tradition in achieving modernization.

Heo Jeong-Sook (1902-1991), called "Korean Kolontai" in those days, was one of the most notable socialist feminists and the first woman reporter at Donga-Ilbo. It seems that Heo, a well-known socialist feminist, decided to work in journalism as it provided her a chance to convey the idea of feminism standing on socialism and thus it would contribute to the feminist movement. She considered the economic factor as the main reason women in colonial Korea had an inferior position in social status. Heo thus asserted that economic independence should precede in order for women to achieve social independence, as well as insisted on realizing women's own keen senses and resisting the daily oppressions. Also, Heo Jeong-Sook stressed that the women's movement organizations should act independently from male-centered class struggle organizations for women's sexual emancipation. However, she acknowledged that the women's movement should join the class struggle in the long run in order to complete perfect emancipation of women. In this paper, my argument will focus on Heo Jeong-Sook's view on women's liberation influenced by socialist feminism and the modernization of colonial Korea.