Yearning for Korean independence: Dongju's poems in the Japanese colonial era

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Biographical movie (biopic) mostly tells one's life story and works as we can learn about someone's works or life experiences through it. Therefore, biopic usually portrays life of famous people. As one of the most representative poet in Korea, life story of Dongju has been captured into biopic as well. Dongju also the only Korean poet whose biography is presented in a movie. Interestingly, the biopic uses Dongju's poems to set the storyline and mark important events in Dongju's life. Besides, poems appear in the movie represent the focus or meaning of a whole Dongju's poems. Thus, this research attempts to analyze Dongju's poems presented in the movie with Japanese colonial era as its background. Related to the background, the purpose of this research is to find out how Korean's expectation of independence is represented through verbal signs in the poems. Fifteen poems appeared in the movie 'Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet' were used as corpus data. Words, specifically noun, which frequently appeared in the poems then classified based on its collocation and meaning proximity. The fifteen poems in the biopic are set during Dongju's teenage years until his twenties, in which the time background are set during the Japanese colonialism in Korea. These nouns are then analyzed to see its relation with 'hope of independence' of Korean using Peirce's semiotic theory. The result shows that hope of independence is represented through nouns that are related to nature and human, and also the adverb of time. The nouns associated with nature and human appear with considerable amount of frequency and symbolize new hopes and spirit of independence, such as new hopes of positive nuance, determination, bright and optimistic circumstances, and a spark of spirit. The adverb of time also symbolizes a bright future, such as bright morning, peace, harmonious autumn, and blossoming of spring flowers that reflect the happy and serene state which all Koreans seek in colonial times. The poem presented in this biopic depicts the suffering of the people and their desire for independence from colonialism. However, behind the expression of disappointment and sadness regarding colonialism in his poems, it can be concluded that the use of nouns in Dongju's work symbolizes the hope of freedom and independence from colonialism.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn Language, Education, Politics, and Identity
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-Linguistics Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781536193374
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Hope for independence
  • Japanese colonial
  • Korean poem
  • Semiotic
  • Yun Dongju


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