Material Modernity, Consumable Tradition
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book describes how experiences of new “modernity” in the colonial period and of “traditional Korea/Korean tradition” in late modernity have been constructed, experienced, and reinforced through and around the consumption of distinctive goods and services. South Korea in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is a strong nation-state and techno-giant that has mastered all manner of modern forms from one of the world's largest megamalls to the hugely successful production of pop culture for a global market. At the same time, and in a manner everywhere conducive to nostalgia, South Koreans express anxiety over the corrupting influence of new wealth. On such ground, traditional things become desirable commodities, and a nostalgic embrace of tradition—in modern commodity form—constitutes one South Korean response to the flux and contradiction associated with a postmodern condition.
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