Despite South Korea’s economic development, and its status as a full member of the OECD group of nations, critics continue to denounce the conservative nature of the Korean society. As we mentioned here before, South Korea ranks very low in indexes measuring inequality between men and women (e.g. the Global Gender Gap Report, published by the World Economic Forum), alongside countries one would not necessarily associate Korea with (such as Qatar or Nigeria).
Such rankings reflect tangible societal expectations, norms and behaviors that South Korean women are expected to embrace, but which they sometimes also resist or transgress. Our guest for this interview, Professor Aljosa Puzar, has dedicated much of his research to the coming of age of young women in Korea and the process he describes as their “dollification”. Professor Puzar argues that in terms of esthetics, behavior, and expected social roles young women are encouraged to become “dolls” – and to develop a femininity that does not threaten already established structures of patriarchy.
Professor Puzar is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the Underwood International College of Yonsei University. He completed a PhD in Literary Theory and History from the University of Rijeka, Croatia and recently obtained his second PhD in Critical and Cultural Theory from the University of Cardiff, under the title: “Coming of Age in South Korea: Ethnographies and Histories of Transgression”. Professor Puzar has authored and co-authored many books and publications and his writings have been featured in several academic journals, including the Journal of Current Cultural Research, Asian Women and Studies in Symbolic Interaction.
We like to think that we are nomadic, we like to think we are dissolving into digital clouds, we like to think that we move a lot, while in fact I’m trying to prove that dollification is about ensuring the conservation and perseverance of stasis. That dollification is rather […] being immobile than being mobile and that it is often conjoined with [a] lack of female – and occasionaly male – agency rather than with enhancement of that agency.
The interview was conducted on June 8th in Songdo.