As millions of women and girls left country towns to generate Korea’s manufacturing boom, the factory girl emerged as an archetypal figure in twentieth-century popular culture. This book explores the factory girl in Korean literature from the 1920s to the 1990s, showing the complex ways in which she has embodied the sexual and class violence of industrial life.
Ruth Barraclough teaches gender and cultural studies in the Korea Program at the Australian National University.
“In this highly original work, Ruth Barraclough makes it absolutely clear that marginalized and degraded forms of literary expression, like those in which the factory girl figures, are fundamental to the definition and self-understanding of working women’s subjectivity. Written in a lively and highly accessible style, her book will be of great value to scholars of Korea but also a broad array of literary critics, social and labor historians, and women’s studies scholars.”—Paula Rabinowitz, author of Labor and Desire: Women’s Revolutionary Fiction in Depression America
“Bringing together labor history and literary criticism in the most innovative ways, Factory Girl Literature admirably explores cultural and literary representations to illuminate a complex subject that would be inaccessible via more conventional sources. Ruth Barraclough astutely illustrates how the crucial matrix of sexuality and the experience of various kinds of violence was an integral and constitutive dimension of the history of industrializing Korea. . . . A must read not only for scholars in Korean and Asian studies, but for all those interested in labor and critical gender studies in the global context.”—Jin-kyung Lee, author of Service Economies: Militarism, Sex Work, and Migrant Labor in South Korea