“Mother and Child,” which was published in 1935, explores the dual impact of patriarchy and colonialism on women’s lives: a young man joins the anti-Japanese resistance in northern China and is killed, leaving behind his young wife and son. Without the shelter of a living husband, the young mother finds herself homeless, penniless, and helpless to protect her ailing son. The story is a keen reflection of Kang’s feminist and revolutionary yearnings and an unflinching look at the social conditions of her time, including the way families came to be divided over politics.
About the author
Kang Kyung-ae (1906 – 1944) was a leading writer, feminist, and labor activist during the colonial era. After publishing her short story “Broken Strings” in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in 1931, she migrated to Gando, a.k.a. Jiandao in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of northern China. Kang’s work is important for its authentic, unembellished depictions of the era and the lives of the people. From Wonso Pond, a novel that deals with conflicts between tenant farmers and pro-Japanese collaborators, conflicts between capitalists and workers, and the purposeful struggle of the laboring masses, captures the writer’s revolutionary ideology. Her other works, which include “Dismissal,” “The Underground Village,” and “Drugs,” all explore similar themes.
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