This essay intends to interrogate the current condition and the possibilities of Korean diasporic literature by focusing on the novels of Korean- Americans. The Greek “diaspora” which meant “dispersion” has been mainly applied to the Jewish community outside of Israel. In the 20th century, the term “diaspora” has emerged in scholarly and intellectual discourse as the experiences of various peoplewho left their homeland due to slave-trade, colonialism, international dispute, World War I, II, and globalization. Especially, the term diaspora has been widely expanded because of the acceleration of globalization, the emergence of transnationalism, the re-configuring of ethnicity after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., and the increase of migration.
In this respect, this essay critically interrogates the recent tendency in academic discourse towards the extension of national literature and the examination of dual identity and multi-positions of Korean diaspora(s).
First of all, Korean diasporic literature in the U.S. critically shows the Korean identity outside of Korean culture and questions the “frame” of nation-states outside of the borders of Korea(n literature) and America(n literature). For instance, the novels of Younghill Kang make us critically reflect on the colonization of Korea, Japanese Imperialism, and American Puritanism and materialism.
As a matter of fact, the existenceof Korean diasporic literature itself shows the limits of a classifyingsystem which excludes diaspora(s) from it or fails to completely include them. For example, Younghill Kang’s thoughts about the classification of nation-states and nationality, and Ronyoung Kim’s consideration of dual identity are examples of those reflections.