Imagology, narrative modalities, and Korean picture books

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Picture books produced in South Korea and the diaspora in the USA engage with different perspectives on questions of cultural, national, and ethnic identity. Some themes are shared by the two bodies of literature, such as experiences of everyday life, the impact of a traumatic past, and issues of identity, although the latter faces different pressures in South Korea and in the diaspora. A substantial literature dealing with migration and, until the early twenty-first century, transnational adoption has been particular to the diaspora. These thematic differences add extra nuances to images of “other” and “self,” which are inherently particular from an imagological perspective. Diasporan children may occupy an ambiguous position, stereotyped as Korean but culturally American, and contact with the land of origin is depicted as a source of potential conflict. A narrative form that may effectively deal with this conflict is the structure of frame story and thematically related embedded story, which can express both an historical context and a sense of purpose and thus has the potential to reflect a child’s own sense of a dual being. The threat posed by origins as hetero-images marks how a diasporan child is positioned as an outsider to two cultures, whereas picture books in South Korea affirm modernity and innovation in contemporary culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge companion to international children's literature
EditorsJohn Stephens
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315771663
ISBN (Print)9781138778061
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge companions


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