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In Session: Domestic Spaces in Korea: Reconfiguring Historical Narratives
3: Child-Centered Dream Homes: Politics of Independence and Privacy in Cold War Korea, 1950s–1960s
Thursday, March 25, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Na Sil Heo
University of Pennsylvania, United States
In the early Cold War years, many Korean architects and ordinary people participated in drawing and redrawing their ideal homes, despite the fact that owning a single-family home was more dream than reality. Children, in particular, were seen to embody a modern and democratic center of domestic life, giving way to the pervasive discussion of the need to give children their own rooms. As many scholars of the cultural Cold War have shown, domesticity was wielded as a weapon of Cold War rivalry. Similarly, issues related to the family and home in Korea were interlaced with the global politics of postwar reconstruction and modernity. In countless designs of dream houses, whether actually built or not, children’s rooms were presented as a normative ideal, because children’s rooms were conceived as a developmental space that could foster individuality, independence, and autonomy. Examining domestic spaces through age as a category of historical analysis, this paper offers us an opportunity to rethink the complexities of how power relations were reconfigured, challenged, and reaffirmed in Cold War Korea.