Park Young-hee, ‘A Ward Woven with Moonlight’ (1923): A Translation with an Overview of Korean Decadence


  • Di Cotofan Wu


Although decadence was predominantly focused on Western Europe, particularly France and Britain, its influence reached as far as the Korean peninsula, during the early twentieth century when the nation was under Japanese rule. Regrettably, this facet of global decadence has been somewhat neglected within the realm of academia until now.

During the mid-Victorian period and onwards, the exchange of cultures facilitated a significant influence of Japanese art on European artists, who developed a strong affinity for the opulence of ‘Oriental’ aesthetics, commonly known as Japonisme. Simultaneously, Japan actively pursued westernization throughout the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) eras, embracing and emulating various aspects of Western culture. Unsurprisingly, academic discussion in the English language on decadence in East Asia, or ‘Oriental’ motifs in decadence, has predominantly examined Japan’s literature and art, resulting in a substantial body of academic work in this field since the 1960s.[i]


[i] Such as Imura Kimie, '日本におけるオスカー・ワイルド--移入期-1-’ [‘Nippon Ni Okeru Oscar Wilde: I’nyuki (Dai Ichibu)’], Tsurumi Joshidaigaku Kiyō 鶴見女子大学紀要, 7 (1969), 39-60). Qi Chen, ‘The Circulation of Oscar Wilde’s Prose and Poems in Japan (1868–1926)’, Literature Compass, 10.3 (2013), 288-99. Yoko Hirata, ‘Oscar Wilde and Honma Hisao, the First Translator of “De Profundis” into Japanese’, Japan Review, 21 (2009), 241-66. Joseph Lavery, ‘Remote Proximities: Aesthetics, Orientalism, and the Intimate Life of Japanese Objects’, ELH, 83.4 (2016), 1159-83.