Mrs. Lee, Who Has Lived in a Small Town with US Army Base in South Korea: Intersectionality with Power, Gender, and Class

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Jihye JEONG, Chung-Ang University, Republic of Korea
This paper analyzes intersectionality, based on power, gender and class, through oral history of Mrs. Lee in seventies. With a question that how to analyze a biography with intersectionality as theory, it aims to extend possibility of feminist Epistemology especially in the context of South Korea, which could be situated as a post/colonial State. The approach without intersectionality as theory could scrutinize how a condition acted on research objects(narrativity) and what its result was(causality). But it has little attention to explain how the condition ‘constructed’ recognition and lives of objects(constructivism). Here puts the importance of intersectionality. The storyteller has grown up in a small town of a region, ‘Dongducheon’, known for the station of US army base-a representative feature as considerable power over South Korea-. The experience that a son of the storyteller received treatment in a U.S. army hospital, which had advanced technology, critically changed her recognition about the US army from as strange neighbor to as the savior. Another experience is that she was ‘sent’ to husband for marriage in the hope of 'getting fed'. In terms of gender the right to live of women has been dependent on men’s labor. While men earn wheat from work, women are situated in kitchen only to cook bread with it. During the interview, she exhibited her evaluation of herself with moral superiority compared to that of prostitutes, who live in a red-light district to ‘comfort’ US soldiers. However, in regard of economic status, the absolute poverty of the storyteller made her presume that the status of prostitutes would be higher than that of them. Hence, she is blinded to problems embedded on existing structure. On the other hand, we open our eyes from interpreting her experiences with intersectionality as theory.