Two Million “Butterflies” Searching For Home: Identity And Images Of Korean Chinese In Hŏ Yŏn-Sun’s Yanbian Narratives

Xiang Jin, University of South Carolina


This thesis examines the representation of Korean Chinese searching for home in relation to Korean diasporic identity. Home as a sense of identity is both personal and collective. It is also a reflection of one’s psyche and emotion. For Korean Chinese, searching for a place to call home in between their host-homeland China and original homeland Korea involves many aspects of meaning, the home of an individual, of a family, and of a community. Therefore, the third cultural region Yanbian, the Korean Chinese Autonomous Prefecture of China, and Yanbian narratives become the central issue of this thesis. I first offer an analysis on the historical relations between Yanbian and Korean Chinese as well as Korean Chinese intellectuals’ debate over Korean Chinese cultural identity and Korean diaspora. Then, I do a close reading of third generation Korean Chinese writer Ho Yon-sun’s two novels Windflower and Who Saw a Butterfly’s Nest respectively. Throughout my thesis, I argue that both the process of Korean Chinese characters’ negotiation of an entry to Korea in Who Saw a Butterfly’s Nest and the efforts to reconcile conflicts between Korean Chinese and South Koreans in Windflower is born from a desire of Korean Chinese to establishing a home and to position themselves in between their host and home culture.