Lecture: The Department Store and the Politics of Consumption in Colonial Korea

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fac­ul­ty mem­ber Jun Yoo of the Depart­ment of His­to­ry will present a lec­ture titled “The Paekhwajŏm (Depart­ment Store) and the Pol­i­tics of Con­sump­tion in Colo­nial Korea” Thurs­day, Novem­ber 2, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. in Craw­ford Hall 115. This pre­sen­ta­tion is co-sponsored by the UH-Mānoa Depart­ment of Anthro­pol­o­gy and the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies.

In the lec­ture, Pro­fes­sor Yoo will exam­ine the paekhwajŏm (depart­ment store) with­in the con­text of an emerg­ing con­sumer cul­ture that start­ed reshap­ing the urban land­scape in the late 1920s. His study attempts to under­stand the rapid­ly chang­ing metrop­o­lis built around visu­al spec­ta­cles (mod­ern build­ings, pub­lic con­veyances, banks, depart­ment stores, and cafes), new peo­ple (the “crowd,” con­sumers, and urban work­ers), and move­ment (shop­ping, strolling, gaz­ing, and the cir­cu­la­tion of com­modi­ties).

As these ilsang Å­i kong­gan (every­day spaces) pro­lif­er­at­ed, they not only blurred the bound­aries between pub­lic and pri­vate spaces, they trans­formed mun­dane acts like shop­ping into a sen­su­ous, thrilling, and excit­ing expe­ri­ence, dra­mat­i­cal­ly alter­ing the every­day fab­ric of social rela­tions between peo­ple and things. These urban sites also pos­sessed a dark­er side in the encour­age­ment of pleasure-seeking and nar­cis­sis­tic self-gratification.

Pro­fes­sor Yoo will ana­lyze the inter­nal dynam­ics of these giant empo­ri­ums, the exchange of com­modi­ties, and the man­ner in which these “palaces of consumption” invit­ed spec­ta­tor­ship but also manip­u­lat­ed the con­sumer (e.g., pro­vid­ing tastes and pref­er­ences to its buy­ers) in var­i­ous ways. In many respects mun­dane activ­i­ties like “shopping” no longer rep­re­sent­ed “fixed needs” but involved a com­plex set of prac­tices that dra­mat­i­cal­ly altered the every­day fab­ric of social rela­tions between peo­ple and things.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, please con­tact anthprog@hawaii.edu.