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B. Seeing Suicide through a Different Lens

Samantha Pauline Villanueva


South Korea has endured a difficult history. From its involvement in wars that culminated into its separation from North Korea in 1953 to the various expressions of dissent and protests from activists challenging the government in the late 1980s. South Korea’s literature outlines these tumultuous years of political and socioeconomic changes that are characterized by the state’s great exercise of control and regulation across different institutions. This paper discusses suicide in Kim Young-Ha’s I Have The Right To Destroy Myself by viewing it as a way of rejecting the consistent control and regulation of bodies. This paper aims to analyze selfinflicted violence in the story in two ways: (1) as a personal undertaking to regain control of the body and (2) as a form of aggression towards the society. This paper applies Foucault’s theory of the docile body, which puts forward that bodies are made to be inscribed upon by tightly organized institutions that maintain order; therefore, effectively stripping off the capacity of individuals to resist control. The paper uses this theory to show that the characters in Kim Young-Ha’s novel use suicide as a means to reclaim control of their bodies.

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