Serial Democracy, Newspapers and Novelizations: Only in Korea? (Part I)

Korea’s first newspaper was the Hansŏng sunbo, which published three times a month, but only for one year. More newspapers quickly followed (Lee 338). In the modern era, Korean newspapers have generally been far more literary than those in the US – in fact quite consciously so. Newspapers have sought out links with authors and prior to 1945 this was the standard way for novels to get into print (Yu 156) and Yu notes, with respect to the West:

To write serial novels for the newspaper would seem to outsiders almost tantamount to a form of artistic prostitution. In the Far East, however, this practice has been around for as long as the history of modern journalism itself (Loc cit)

Yu notes that this came with at least two costs: First in pressure from the newspapers to crank out prose, perhaps at the expense of craftsmanship and, second, quite public censorship of the newspapers by Japanese censors prior to 1945 and then government censors after.

Post 1920s the newspapers also published a variety of literary magazines, which also published Korean serial novels:

The newspaper companies published monthly magazines such as Sindonga (New East Asia), Chogwang (Korea’s Light), and Chungang (Center) that expand ed the arena of literary activity, and general literary magazines such as Munjang (Literature) and Inmun p’yŏngnon (Criticism of Culture) produced new writers.

This continued well into, at least, the late 1970‘s as “The Dwarf” although technically a one-man yŏnjak sosŏl, was also serialized across several magazines (although not in exact order).

Then, mysteriously, the serialization seems to have died out (this conclusion is drawn, at the moment, only from English texts and thus may be subject to change). Professional writers and professional publication techniques may have replace the more traditional serialization.

  1. Did serialization go out of style?
  2. Did book-publishing replace it?
  3. Did newspapers get smaller?
  4. How did this work, was the serial released daily, weekly, monthly?

I hope to chase down answers to those questions, but for now it’s off to work on

PART II: The Re-Democratization of the Korean Novel

3 thoughts on “Serial Democracy, Newspapers and Novelizations: Only in Korea? (Part I)

  1. The only newspaper I've ever enjoyed reading was the Independent. In fact, I still read it every single day online, and then bother people on Facebook by posting links.

    In Korea, I basically go through their newspapers and spit on them, scream "racist!" and then put it down and wonder why I picked up what I knew I wouldn't like in the first place…

  2. Charles,

    I have just discovered your blog courtesy of the Korea Times article. I am a student of Korean Translation in Australia. I would like to email you but am unable to find an email contact on your blog….

  3. Pingback: Novel Serialization; The Web; Korean Democratization

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