The Progressive Modern Korean New Women In the 1920s: Blue Swallow Film Analysis

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The deeply rooted history of a Confucian paradigm in Korea has for long limited women’s roles and rights. In the male-dominated and patriarchal society, women’s roles remained in the domestic sphere, where they were required to be submissive. However, with the introduction of westernization and modernity in the 1920s, modern generation was rapidly incorporated into colonial modernity. Korean women began to “redefine the Korean female identity” by displaying the “new woman” characteristics, in which some literate women initiated to “enhance their education, determine their own physical appearance, and contribute to the debate about changing gender roles and expectations”(Yoo, p.59) Fearing the threat of the emergence of the “new women” with the potential disturbance to the hegemony, Japanese colonial authorities as well as nationalist reformers veered the direction where the new ideologies of womanhood with modern sensibilities, also contained them within traditional gender boundaries, such as in education and social spheres(Yoo, 60). Park Kyung Won, the main female character in the film Blue Swallow, also lived during this era of the “new women” as well as restrictions under the Japanese colonial rule. In the film Blue Swallow, while her father encouraged her to stay at home for her to fit into the role of the traditional women, Park works as a taxi driver and eventually studies abroad to attend Tachikawa Flight academy, where she becomes the first civilian Korean female pilot. She displays the “new women” image, in which like the other “new women”, she does not conform to the traditional norms of a woman and strives in redefining the Korean female identity. However, her engagement in male-dominated education and profession, “ma...

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...to see their university-graduate daughters to become successful career women, they also want their daughters to be suitable brides for upper-middle class families,(Cho,179) leading the daughters to experience an enormous conflict between real and the ideal(Lee, 144). While even contemporary women face challenges within the dilemma between career and marriage where many are discouraged to pursue their desired careers upon marriage, Park is assertive on her ambition to achieve her dream. As Park states “I am preparing for the flight, and I do not have the time or the mind to think about anything else”(Yoon, Blue Swallow), her rejection to Han’s marriage proposal implies her awareness of failure in achieving her dream if she accepts the marriage proposal. Even by pursuing her dream of being a pilot she has left what should have been a position as a domestic housewife.
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