This article argues that modern Korean fiction arose not simply by mimicking Western literature, but as a response to political and cultural changes that merged Korea into the global capitalist system as a colony. I focus on a turn-of-the-century work of Korean fiction, Mt. Ch'iak (1908–1911), and especially on the female protagonist, whose uncanny character remains an anomaly among modern fiction. While departing from premodern gender norms, advocating the value of “enlightenment and civilization,” and even flirting with a colonialist rhetoric, she does not quest for individuality or complex interiority, which, scholars often believe, marks modern fiction apart from its premodern counterparts. Her novelty instead comes from the fact that she embodies turn-of-the-century Korean male intellectuals’ two incompatible desires toward the modern: to achieve the advanced “civilization” by promoting women's status in the nation on the one hand and to reinstate gender hierarchy between men and women on the other. I will show that Mt. Ch'iak “symbolically resolves” the conflict between the two desires by modifying a premodern female ghost into a ghostly double of the female protagonist.

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