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South Korea was not the main target of the shojo manga, but Japanese anime was imported to South Korea as part of cultural political openness. I would like to mention why this policy is crucial in the context of Korean modern history. There was a Japanese colonial era from 1910 to 1945 in Korea. As a result, the Joseon Dynasty (before the Republic of Korea) has collapsed, people punished whenever using Korean, a bunch of Japanese imperialistic attitude and mode came to the Korean peninsula. That is why the older generation treats Japan as a kind of evil because of this desperate history. In this context, expressing fascination at any Japanese popular culture could be seen as rebellion and taboo. However, there have been more and more young people who are familiar with Japanese culture including the animations. To be frank, I am one of them. I was very much intrigued by the animes. There were actually several anime broadcasts in Korea, most of their content was created from Japan. I assume that the way a young Korean who has the colonial memory look at this culture and the way the Western world look at this culture should be different. Because my country has experienced Japanese colonial history, a lot of Koreans still remember the tough days.

As I said above, there was the Japanese colonial era between 1910 and 1945, which is still affecting Korean society and culture so far. But, a significant event took place in 1998. Korean president Kim Dae Jung adopted a policy that accepts Japanese pop culture. It was actually a sort of political deal between two countries; South Korea, who opened and imported that culture, received Japan’s formal apology for its colonial domination. Yet, Japanese government had a political intention to erase the memories of colonial period by diffusing their popular culture. (Lee, 2009, p.137) As a result, a large number of Japanese animations were introduced, children were naturally exposed to them by watching television and reading mangas. Interestingly, Korean broadcasting systems tried to wipe out Waesaek (a long-lasting word to describe Japanese style badly) in the contents aiming to avoid instill Japanese values to young kids. To be honest, I regarded the characters as Koreans without any doubt because many of their names were in Korean and they spoke Korean as well. For example, うさぎ(Usagi) from <Sailor Moon> was renamed to 세라(Sera), あいこ(Aiko) from <Ojamajo Doremi> was given a new name to 사랑(Sarang).

The Ambivalent Attitudes towards Japan

Along with the complicated historical and political issues up to now, young people have tended to differentiate Japanese culture from diplomatic issues. In other words, for those Koreans, Japanese culture has become one of the options in which they can be interested among other cultures, regardless of the complicated matters. Nevertheless, they share a sense of guilt to some degree because of the fact they are a big fan of Japanese culture as a Korean. (Kim, 2011, p.81) Possessing romantic thoughts of Japanese animation might be understood as something concealed, but paradoxically, Japanese culture has been enjoyed by the masses. It is important to note that the new generation tends not to justify its two attitudes; they separate political stance to Japan and preference to Japanese pop culture. (Kim, 2011, p.85) In my case, I have not always been free from admiring that culture in this sociocultural environment. I have developed a sort of bipolar perception of Japan like the people I described above. Hence, the way I see Japan is like love and hatred, ambivalent.

Eternal Atonement

As I said, South Korea and Japan are closely intertwined on historical and political issues. Comfort women, the euphemism for the victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery, has been a major issue. Kim Chang Ryeol, who is the owner of the private Korea Botanical Garden, commissioned the statue to commemorate an estimated 200,000 of the victims and the artist Wang Kwang Hyun made it. The installation has been located in the private garden in Pyeongchang in South Korea. Japan has reacted angrily to the sculpture as they interpret that the kneeling figure in front of the girl statue is Shinzo Abe, Prime minster of Japan. However, the garden's owner Kim claims that the man is remaining anonymous and the statue is open to interpretation, pointing out that we should focus on the girl(victim), not on the man. It is interesting to see how Japan reacts to comfort women controversy in spite of the atrocious crime. I want to inform people that many Koreans still remember the painful history and want to address related issues regardless of the preference for Japanese pop culture.

Kim, Hyo Jin. “A New Flow of Acceptance of Japanese Public Culture after the Korean Wave(Hallyu).”Jisigy Jipyeong (the Horizon of Knowledge), vol. 11, 21 Oct. 2011, pp. 81–85.

Lee, Seonghwan.The Colonial Memory, the Influx of Japanese Mass Culture and the Relationship between Korea and Japan. 2009, p. 137.

Aya Takano is a Japanese artist. She is a part of Kaikai kiki Company, which Murakami Takashi established as an art group. There are girls and boys whose body parts are dyed with pink in aya Takano's work. The fantasy that she makes consists of cute animals, young autistic people, semi-realistic scenes and sexuality. The artist embodies Sexuality by naked figures and the sex scene, sometimes bestiality involves in here. It is not a typical manga style like Japanese neo-pop artists such as Murakami Takashi or Mr., Aya Takano depicts her imagination in soft kawaii style. She makes a pleasant visual epiphany by making manga-style fantasy.

Soft civilization

In the exhibition “Jelly Civilisation” at Perrotin, she attempts to create a harmonised connection between the natural world. It is an exhibition that she has imagined for a long time. Adorable androgynous characters in her painting have a curious face, but seem indifferent to the world. I guess this facial expression implies the people in our society may have the dark side of the inner mind as if youth get anxious about the opaque future. It also suggests that human is not that a perfect being so it should get along with nature. The slender, vulnerable shape of character suppose her idea about human soul. Spirit is the essence of human beings, in contrast, the body is just a physical thing. So, the delicate shape of people can exaggerate the idea that spirit is hard to be changed. With regard to this, the reason for the “Jelly” civilisation is from her idea of a body - the jelly-like shapes build a soft civil society.

Eroticism and mysticism

She explained, having sex with an animal is just a surface. Each animal represents a symbolic idea, for example, a lion is a symbol of strongness, a bird may imply freedom. In this context, erotic scenes with animals can be understood by reconnecting power with nature. Human and nature power is mixing in order to make a better world. The present-day is about violence which is from the dark side but there is a good chance to connect the situation to the future.

It is interesting that the heterosexual scene is not intended to be sexy. For me, it looks like a cute version of Shunga (traditional erotic painting in Japan), which she based on. She reflects reflected a contemporary Japanese transliteration of the Lolita complex, called lolicon.

She is a huge fan of science fiction. Her orgasm which is derived from reading sci-fi was much stronger than an actual sexual relationship. That is why her painting has limitless scenarios. As if she has met borderless fictions then felt orgasm, perhaps she wants to share this feeling by art-making. She wishes everyone would feel the special orgasm.

On a Hill, 2019

The Bride and Her Five Husbands, 2019

I know that just a kiss will take me far away, 2006

My fascination with girl comics

Japanese girl comics are called Shojo manga. Shojo means a young girl in Japanese. It is one of the most beloved Japanese comic genres which targets teenage girl, made and read by women. When I was a little girl, I watched tons of Japanese anime until I reached 15 years old. I was specifically fascinated by the animes drawn from fantastical imagination. For example, <Full Moon o Sagashite>'s Mitsuki (a weak girl) who has a chronicle illness can transform into a beautiful singer and jump to stardom. Other normal girls achieve mystical force by accident and become a cute warrior who protect people from enemies, which is very ordinary plot of magical girl genres. Like this, a lot of female protagonists were actually ordinary ones and they become a mature fighting girl with beautiful costumes. According to Keiko Takemiya who led shojo manga in the 1970s’, she wanted to convey meaningful messages to girl readers by inventing encouraging stories. Since her manga aimed to be read by young girl, it was quite easy to disclose her own thought as a Japanese female author. As Masami (2015) said, Young manga artists were dipicting the stories they wanted to read for themselves rather than trying to imagine what their shojo readers would want. So, shojo manga became the communicative tool for young female's self-expression. In other words, reflecting aritst's value can also reflect one' society at that time. Let's say, girl's social state is low and they are thought to be vulnerable, instable, and PRETTY. Female manga artists would be able to convey ambitious message to readers so that the girl readers get inspired by the artists. It was actually the reason for <Sailor Moon> was beloved by young girls.

Mitsuki and Full Moon from Full Moon o Sagashite, Arina Tanemura, 2002

The Power of Shojo Manga

I read Chapter "International perspectives on Shojo manga : The influence of girl cultures". It explains the power of shojo manga in terms of indirect experience of relationship. According to Masuda (2015), Shojo manga is a character-based genre that follows the characters' psychological movements and focuses on the relationship among the characters regardless of whether the story is serious literature or even realistic. This statement is true and obvious because Shonen manga (comics for boy) normally concentrate on boy hero who is always brave and extraordinary, his huge achievement, fellowship, etcetra. On the contrary, shojo manga describes delicate mind of heroine, focusing on her aspect as if I followed the flow of heroine's mind when I watch girl anime and comics. I actually cried several times and felt bad when a heroine got sad because of her love relationship. Usually, Romance and relationship is the main subjects of shojo manga. Thus, the readers have to interpret relationships, patterns and changes by focusing on reading the manga character's internal world. So, the manga technique make it possible to express complexities regardless of the whether the manga depicts a fantasy or realistic story. In this manner, shojo manga is able to bridge the gap between delicate feelings, the subtleties of human relationships, and the internal world of characters. (Masuda, 2015, p.29) So, the girl readers can discover how to face their struggles by reading girly manga.

Gakkou no Ojikan by Mimi Tajima

(+) This one is my favorite shojo manga. The story is about that school girl who becomes a principal of good high school by accident. During her school days, she meets two handsome guys and one best friend. She falls in love with two boys, but she eventually connects relationship with the cold boy in the photo. It is a typical shojo manga that depicts heroine's intenal world.

Artist Painter Sooan Shin's contextual research

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