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Shuddering Century: Futurist Poetry, Colonial Korea, and Industrial Warfare

The current war is the most beautiful futurist poem.

                                                            —F.T. Marinetti

A gun laughing, because war itself is a poet.

                                                            —O Chang-hwan

This article examines the reception of European futurism in colonial Korea in the early-to- mid-1930s through the writings of Kim Ki-rim and O Chang-hwan, both of whom composed long modernist poems over the course of 1934 engaging with modern warfare and global imperialism—Kim’s “Weather Map” (Kisangdo, p. 1935) and O’s “War” (Chŏnjaeng, 1934, unpublished). My central proposition, based on close readings of these two poems in comparison with works by Italian and Japanese futurists, is that Korea’s unevenly developed colonial location and its experience with the violence of military occupation and with escalating warfare in China indirectly discouraged the celebratory posture adopted by the European futurists towards technology, speed, and mechanized violence.

Additionally, I postulate, the belated arrival of European futurism to Korea in the 1930s, through Japanese mediation and nearly two decades after the heyday of Italian futurism, gave Korean writers a certain historical as well as geographical distance from which to judge the achievements and disasters wrought by the First World War and by imperialist violence worldwide during the interwar period, a perspective unavailable to the war’s initial avant-garde supporters. In this way, they could avoid the glaring contradiction Cinzia Blum catalogs between Italian futurism’s “celebrat[ion of] the new forces of flux and exchange that transgressed national boundaries” and the fact that “the futurists fanatically embraced a militant nationalism and defended, with great enthusiasm, their homeland’s borders in both world wars.”[1] Kim and O’s colonial situation, I suppose, in the absence of statehood or sovereignty, rather encouraged skepticism and a cosmopolitan, internationalist stance against imperialist warfare.

Marjorie Perloff has provided what is perhaps the most concise and revealing diagnosis of futurism’s determinative relation to uneven development: “both the Italian and Russian versions of Futurism found their roots in economically backward countries that were experiencing rapid industrialization–the faith in dynamism and national expansion associated with capitalism in its early phase.”[2] In keeping with this focus, I am interested in how the particular historical conditions in colonial Korea—which could not possibly have witnessed a comparable, contemporaneous futurist aesthetic in the 1910s owing to the lack of sufficient urban, industrial infrastructure—nevertheless set the stage for a unique amalgamation of avant-garde elements with which writers could address the situation of rising militarism and wartime mobilization in the mid-1930s.

In what follows, I begin with a brief survey of futurism in global context and then proceed to close readings of Kim’s early poems and his 1935 magnum opus “Weather Map,” in comparison with Italian futurism, before concluding with a comparative treatment of montage in O’s “War,” assessing the poem’s implications for our understanding of colonial Korea’s industrial development and strategic position vis-à-vis Japanese imperialism.

Futurist Departures

Tyrus Miller pithily defines futurism “as a movement of accelerated modernization.”[3] In pursuit of a new aesthetic that could capture the speed and transformation of the rapidly industrializing urban centers of Italy and France, F. T. Marinetti and his followers gravitated toward fragmented typography, the disruption of syntax, and other techniques simulating the motion, immediacy, and simultaneity of modern life. Similarly, Nathan Brown, with regard to Marinetti’s revelation, as recounted in his first 1909 manifesto, that a futurist aesthetic was born of the testosterone-steeped intensity of an automobile accident, observes how “futurism and primitivism flourish at the same time: the muddy water of the factory drain into which his racing automobile plunges can recall for Marinetti the breast of his Sudanese nurse.”[4]

Italian futurism’s adoration of modernization culminates with Marinetti’s infamous pronouncement in his pamphlet War, the World’s Only Hygiene, that “the current war is the most beautiful futurist poem.”[5] Modern warfare presented itself to the many futurist painters, poets, and composers as the apotheosis of technological development, synthesizing the various futurist motifs of speed, simultaneity, machinery, and masculinism in a maelstrom of violence and power. And while this infatuation with mechanized violence predates Italian futurism’s direct involvement with fascism in the ‘20s and ‘30s, it clearly laid the basis for the movement’s subsequent openness to totalitarian politics.

However, this sketch of a warmongering futurism is necessarily incomplete; for one thing, as Christine Poggi reminds us, the futurists “encountered the belated industrialization of Italy and experienced its psychosomatic shocks and jolts, as well as its losses and displacements, as a series of transformations with both positive and negative consequences.”[6] For Poggi, the movement was far more diverse and its political commitments more varied than in the canonical version I have recycled above. Willard Bohn reiterates this when he acknowledges that “the affinities between Futurism and Fascism were largely stylistic and to a lesser extent thematic. Except that they were animated by patriotic idealism, the two movements did not share ideology. Despite their apparent similarities, their aesthetic and political positions were actually quite distinct.”[7] Further, Günter Berghaus identifies what he calls a repressed “machine angst” accompanying the futurists’ positive rehearsals of technological power, speculating that “[t]he Futurist cult of the machine may have been a way of exorcizing the ‘shadow’ side of modernity,” the very technological domination of the human in industry and warfare which Korean poets Kim and O would later take up as decisive literary motifs.[8]

Futurism and Colonial Korea

The arrival of the avant-gardes in colonial Korea through imperial Japanese mediation did not follow a linear, predetermined sequence identical to its progression in Europe, but, as art historian Youngna Kim affirms, came “all at the same time en masse.”[9] Here we find resonances with Leon Trotsky’s thesis concerning uneven development that “a backward country does not take things in the same order. The privilege of historic backwardness—and such a privilege exists— permits, or rather compels, the adoption of whatever is ready in advance of any specified date, skipping a whole series of intermediate stages.”[10] Trotsky thus colorfully elaborates, “Savages throw away their bows and arrows for rifles all at once, without traveling the road which lay between those two weapons in the past” (History, 4). In the context of East Asia, we might also remember the passage in Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki’s 1908 masterpiece Sanshirō adumbrating Japan’s compressed intellectual development in the late nineteenth century, in that “Meiji thought had been reliving three hundred years of Western history in the space of forty.”[11]

As I hope to demonstrate through my close readings below, what Trotsky characterizes as a “privilege”—as opposed to pejorative descriptors like “belatedness” or “lack”—manifests in the necessarily amalgamative but nonetheless unique character of Korean modernism, permitting experimentation with and combination of several avant-garde styles at once, which would have been impossible in the European context several decades prior. Such a privilege exemplifies Korean modernism’s originality more than its imitativeness.

Song Min-ho documents one of the earliest appearances of avant-garde thought in the early 1920s writings of painter and critic Kim Ch’an-yŏng, who, after first studying Western-style painting at university in Tokyo in the 1910s, returned to Korea brimming with fresh ideas about impressionism, postimpressionism, futurism, and cubism. Again dispelling notions of mere derivation, Song notes how the “artistic criticism” of early pioneers like Kim “was the result of trying understanding Western trends of art in their own system of art and thought,” adapting these imported trends to local circumstances.[12] Nevertheless, Song’s inquiry into Kim’s early pieces of criticism acknowledges the remote “distance” (yowŏn) between Kim’s theorizations of avant-garde possibility and their realization in painterly or literary practice at the time (“Early Art Criticism,” 319).

Similarly, Korean intellectual Ko Han-yong’s atypical dadaist sensibilities in the mid-1920s emerged more or less simultaneously with those of Japanese avant-garde pioneer Takahashi Shinkichi. Yoshikawa Nagi has detailed the correspondence between these respective authors, with Takahashi eventually visiting Kyŏngsŏng (present day Seoul) to meet with Ko, even though the latter was never to become a significant practitioner or pioneer of his own aesthetic ideals through artistic creation.[13]

The first practical instantiation of the avant-garde in Korea may be located in Chu Kyŏng’s 1926 oil painting Hardship (P’aran), which features a maelstrom of industrial forms and sharply intersecting diagonals in a contrasting blue-orange palette, culminating in what appears to be the shipwrecking of a steam ocean liner. Chu, whose father was a middle-class bookseller specializing in foreign imports, was exposed to advanced trends in European and Japanese art through photographic reproductions, allowing him to incorporate such styles into his own paintings at a time when such trends were scarcely to be found in the work of his Korean contemporaries, who were primarily trained in academic painting in Tokyo. Significantly, this prescient futurist painting captures the intensity and violence (the titular “hardship”) of compulsory modernization, as the industrial steamship bursts into flames, thus visualizing the catastrophic experience of Japanese imperialism and symbolically dispelling any hopes for Korea’s peaceful, gradual transition to modernity under colonial rule.

There was nevertheless to be found a countervailing optimism for progress in Korean literary and artistic circles by the late 1920s, particularly inspired by socialist ideas of revolutionary transformation, as opposed to the faith in capitalism exhibited in the Italian case. Historian Sŏ Yu-ri recognizes how “geometric abstract cover designs” for journals in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, featuring compositions largely inspired by Russian constructivism, represented a new vision for the “upcoming modern age and their will to construct the modern society of a new culture.”[14] The titles of many of the short-lived journals examined by Sŏ are themselves enough to convey the profound sense of exhilaration and optimism current at this time: New Human (Siningan), Discourse of the Era (Sidae kongron), Liberation (Haebang), New Step (Singyedan), and New Century (Sinsegi) each convey the excitement surrounding the “new” era with its “new art” (sinhŭng misul) and transformative, liberatory possibilities.

By the mid-1930s, industrialization and urbanization had cultivated a nascent literate middle-class, what Sunyoung Park describes as a “fertile soil for the new prospering of Korean literary culture.”[15] A greater number of writers in this period began to reflect on Korea’s contradictory development through modernist form as immanently relevant to their oppressive surroundings and not necessarily introduced for its celebration of the new, which felt increasingly out of reach. Toward the end of the decade, however, the spirit animating this modernism was clouded by despair. Janet Poole describes “a profound loss of faith in the ideology of progress and modernization as the industrialization of the peninsula speeded up,” what she calls a “disappearing future” for Korean modernist writers and intellectuals burdened with the loss of “the idea, or hope, of postcolonialism itself” as “the imperialization policies of the Japanese empire threatened the imagination of a national future reaching into a distant horizon.”[16]

In this article, I will therefore locate the brief Korean experiment with futurist literary techniques somewhere between these two poles of enthusiasm for the new and its increasing unviability under a regime of wartime mobilization. Given the composite nature of the avant-garde in colonial Korea, it is difficult to say with any confidence that a “pure” form of futurism (as distinct from, say, dada or cubism or surrealism) was ever practiced. Accordingly, my interpretations of the following poems seek to address how and why certain futurist techniques and imagery would be adopted in O Chang-hwan’s and Kim Ki-rim’s war-oriented modernist poems of the mid-1930s, just as the discourse of the new was beginning to wane and the intensification of imperialist predation on the Asian continent began to demand sobriety and quietude in other contemporaneous literary works.

My close readings will thereby interrogate the conditions of wartime literary production in colonial Korea and engage comparatively with the chronology of futurism in Japan as well as Italy so as to make sense of Korea’s precarious position within imperial Japan’s wartime strategy, under which, as historian Brandon Palmer relates, “by the end of World War II, between four and seven million Korean men, women, and students had been mobilized throughout Japan’s wartime empire.”[17] Likewise, I will finish by querying how futurism’s particular focus on industry and combat could be distinctively repurposed toward critical, anti-imperialist ends in colonial Korea in contrast to futurism’s respective instantiations in Italy and Japan.

To clarify, I do not mean to claim that a direct correspondence transpired between these Korean poets and the Italians, nor would this likely alter my findings significantly if it did. Neither do I propose that Korean futurism merely imitated or uncritically borrowed wholesale the aesthetic of their Italian forerunners. Rather, I am interested in the particular confluence of historical factors paralleled at different moments in the processes of Italy’s and Korea’s respective modernizations which calls for an examination of global futurism’s adequacy to both wartime conditions and uneven development. Bringing colonial Korea together with WWI-era Italy establishes an illuminating test case by which to track theoretically the global diffusion of modernist practice across different geohistorical conjunctures, along with its creative transformations and adaptations. This facilitates our avoidance of prescribing modernism’s unchanging European origin or essence which is purported to circulate immutably elsewhere in the world via necessarily inferior, subsequent derivations.

Furthermore, approaching futurism as an umbrella term for a relatively open aesthetic of industrial transformation adaptable to divergent historical moments rather than a fixed aesthetic category demarcating Italy’s exclusive experience in the 1910s, I explore how colonial Korea’s particular chronology led to the unique formation of a futurist poetics in the work of Kim and O. Unlike the case of Italy, Korea’s “accelerated modernization” under Japanese colonization was lived vicariously, as it were, and could not be represented as properly belonging to inhabitants of the peninsula. Consequently, Kim and O may be said to have adopted certain futurist techniques to document the vast changes in urban sensibility and wartime mobilization underway around them, but with a certain critical, ironic distance, so as to match the distance at which Korea experienced development and wartime discipline under predatory Japanese colonialism.

Shuddering Century

Kim Ki-rim’s 1933 poem “The Shuddering Century” (Chŏnyul hanŭn segi), published in the journal Hakdŭng (Light of Knowledge), frames the era of interwar fascism and terror using futurist motifs and variations in typography and therefore offers a fruitful introduction to what I will be calling a Korean variant of futurism:


A signal loading and transmitting•transmitting•transmitting•


West of the river has turned red

The Trachoma infected eyeballs

Of the world’s white XXists

Go bulging out past their glasses


At a New York wharf

In a back alley behind a 45-story building

The red funeral of a Communist Jack

Departed, heading for dawn in red tears.

Therefore 672 policemen 

Of the police station of the highest “America Union” mobilized


According to Freud

Mussolini’s dreams are always trembling pale

Submerged under a red sea




X-colored Horror


These do not turn white:

An imperial policeman’s hat

“Go-Stop” on a rainy street

And dew on a guillotine –––


These do not turn white:

An imperial policeman’s hat

“Go-Stop” on a rainy street

And dew on a guillotine –––––[18]

The poem discontinuously narrates something of a global class war via a detour through New York and Mussolini’s Italy (implicating Italian futurism), as the colors white and red symbolize the respective turf of capitalists (chabonjuŭija) and communists. Tellingly, the Chinese character for “white” (paek) in the phrase “white terror” (paeksaek kongp’o) of the poem’s final two stanzas was censored (presumably by Kim himself) and replaced with a Roman capitalized “X” due to constraints on publishing freedom enforced by the Japanese authorities. Nevertheless, our first glance at the poem will immediately recognize Kim’s experimentation with typographic placement and font size, as well as bullet point markings, dashes, and other elements, which show the influence of Japanese futurist poets like Hirato Renkichi and Hagiwara Kyōjirō.

The original text of Kim’s “The Shuddering Century.”
Fig. 1. Kim Kirim, Facsimile of “The Shuddering Century” (Chŏnyul hanŭn saegi), Hakdŭng, October 1933.

In the poem’s second line we see bullet points interspersed among the repeated characters for “transmission” (chŏnp’a). This combination of typographic play and imagery pertaining to emerging communication and transportation infrastructure is typical of Kim’s early poems. By returning to this metaphor of the radio-wave transmission cutting across geographic space with rapid precision, Kim’s poems invoke a global totality and the possibility of instantaneous global communicability, albeit one fraught with conflict, unlike Marshall McLuhan’s (1962) image of a harmonious “global village” fortified by advanced communications technology.[19] In “The Shuddering Century,” this underlying potential for conflict is conveyed by the very content of the message transmitted—an “alert” (kyŏngkye). The “SOS” distress signal of the poem “At Sea” (“Haesang”) from his later 1939 collection Customs of the Sun (T’aeyang ŭi p’ungsok) accomplishes something similar, even if the speaker’s disaffected stance is indicative more of the helplessness and disillusion of the late colonial period than of any potential for resistance to encroaching world war.

Kim’s frequent exploration of new media technologies and means of transportation—ranging from the radio broadcast, rotary press, and newspaper, to loudspeakers, locomotives and airplanes—remain true to the transformations in urban culture around him, but mostly resist the aggressive, congratulatory tone of his contemporaries like Marinetti. Indeed, the other immediately visible deviation in “The Shuddering Century” is the gradual increase in font size over four lines of the characters for “horror” (kongp’o), a typographic arrangement which reproduces the effect of something like a radio wave rippling over time and space, or, in corporeal terms, of shouting, thus resonating with the “Alert!” of the poem’s first line placed directly above it. That the word “horror” is syntactically connected to the preceding surrealist-inspired passage about Mussolini’s unconscious fear of the worker’s movement may possibly be read as a riposte to the warmongering of the Italian futurists, clearly indicting the terror of fascist Italy on the brink of its invasion of Ethiopia.

Likewise, the poem’s title alone is enough to suggest that such technological advances accompany the horrors of war, insofar as the term “shuddering” (chŏnyul) cannot be understood without attention to its first character, chŏn, indicating conflict or fighting, shared with the term for war, chŏnjaeng. Might we go so far as to say that the twentieth century, as it appeared to Kim three decades in, is characterized primarily by this affect of tremor, or the “horror” named later in the poem? If so, Kim seems to be suggesting that modernization, at least in its colonial variants, is unthinkable without the callous violence of modern mechanized war.

Kim’s incorporation of futurist techniques is more pronounced in his use of onomatopoeia in the early poem “Storm Warning” (“P’okp’ung kyŏngbo”), published in the monthly magazine Sin Tonga in 1932 under the pen name Pyŏn Sŏk-ch’on. Again, we glean from the title the media-saturated condition in which Kim’s modernism intervened; ironically, his poem was circulated through the very same broadcasting technologies it indicts with its dark subtext: here the “storm” (p’okp’ung) likely serves as metaphor for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the rising tensions on the continent between the Japanese army and anti-Japanese Chinese militias. After a brief description of the maelstrom and mayhem of modern combat, with “flesh rubbing against flesh” and “flickering flames,” Kim then inserts onomatopoetic sounds emulating gunfire—“Rat tat tat” (t’udak, t’ak, t’ak)—and later a stanza constructed entirely by chaotic combat acoustics:

Northeast –––
1800 kilos –––
a storm.
Kicking up fierce dust and sparks
The skirmish line piercing through the storm.

Flesh rubbing against flesh, flickering flames –––
wrestling crowd ––– shouting.
Rat tat tat

“Hey, pull yourself together, soldier!”
Did a bullet fly within three inches of your head?”
The map of Asia shudders. 

Rat tat tat
Whoaa ––– O arrr
tat –––––

“This is peace This is peace.”
Ack who’s the jerk blasting through the loudspeaker?
That damn sound.
The gentleman from Geneva is a liar.
Did you forget those four days in the Balkans?

In the air above Hullumbairu
Floats a cloud cover soaked in blood. And there ––––
look at the march of Greater Mongolia trampling on the desert.

Northeast –––
1800 kilos –––
and a storm. A storm.

Rat tat tat
Here, pull yourself together, soldier.

Ready ––– charge. (Kim, Collected Poems, 517–18)

As in “The Shuddering Century,” the diminishing of font size approximates the dynamics of acoustic sound, whereby the fading of machine gun fire accentuates increased wartime mobility with its Doppler-effect like receding, as though the weapon were mounted on a vehicle of some sort, in contrast to the less sophisticated, more cumbersome automatic guns of the First World War.

Martin Puchner has described Marinetti’s 1914 poem Zang Tumb Tuuum as “an attempt to render the sounds of war, the battle of Adrianopolis in 1912, onomatopoetically” (Poetry of the Revolution, 90). Likewise, Kim’s ratting sounds in “Storm Warning” parrot the soundscape of mechanized warfare. But unlike Marinetti—who, as we saw, regarded the war itself to be a kind of poem, and had little time for dialogue or moralizing in his poetry, seeking instead to eradicate the subject or meld him (and it was mostly men) into the technological apparatus itself—Kim is aware of the disastrous effects of combat on human life and interjects this consciousness through ironic or satiric episodes. We cannot help but cringe when the speaker adopts the voice of the insensitive military commander admonishing a soldier who just barely escaped the jaws of death (“Hey, pull yourself together, soldier!”).

Using the same term, “shuddering,” this poem conveys the harrowing experience of war and the rapidity with which it can throw entire societies into turmoil. Furthermore, the poem employs the derogative term “jerk” (chasik) to deride the dissemination of sanitizing propaganda in the context of WWI, judging from the mention of Geneva and its association with the postwar League of Nations (“This is peace, this is peace”). The next stanza introduces “blood-soaked clouds” (p’i ae chŏjŭn kurum) and the “march” (chingun) of the Great Mongols, ironically inverting the bloodthirsty stereotype with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, given the poem’s diversified imagery of modern military technologies like the machine gun.

In the poem “Editorial Department, 1:30pm,” Kim turns to the very means of representing war, a metacritical reflection on the poem’s situation within a militarized society. This may come as no surprise when considering that Kim himself supported his family and his art by working as a reporter and writing poems by night:

editorial department, afternoon

half past one

all the fingers



the blue manuscript paper


the yellow face of the


            autumn sun

            jostles a folded curtain

            and falls

            to the floor

            of the editorial department

            napping there





                        at the factory

                        the screams of typing!

the chief reporter’s

seventy-two ears

fingertips of young novice reporters  

dashing wholeheartedly toward the war in Manchuria

Feng Yuxiang

Chiang Kai-shek

mobilization order

a spray of shrapnel

a grumbling machine gun

bullets and the arrest of life

the last kiss of the dirt-licking private

“Mother Earth. Amen.”

“For the General’s sacred honor. Amen.”

            just moments before birth

            the rotary press sprints

            its saw-toothed wheel grins

            slouching cross-legged on the chair

            I close my eyes and imagine above my retina

            a train at every station

            distributing our son – the newspaper

            above the slumping heads all over Chosŏn



            the sight of that boy (527–28)

The poem recounts how young reporters flock or “rush” (tolkyŏk) to the sensational news of the Japanese invasion to get a good scoop. And like the machine-gun fire emulated in “Storm Warning,” the sounds of typing are here approximated with onomatopoeic bursts, clicks, and clacks, which draw a parallel between the propaganda war and the war of direct force much like that accomplished in O’s “War.”

Let us briefly contrast Kim’s poems with Italian futurist Carlo Carrà’s “A Medium’s Musings [Musing No. 3]” from his 1915 collection Warpainting (Guerrapittura) as translated by Laura Wittman:


                                    (3rd) “act”

                                    HUGE BACKS

                                    LEAPING the bu





                                    Armored steel confusion

                                         in space 8000 sq. km

                                                              note time 4:30am

                                                         1,000,000 guns







                                    inhabits the polychrome


                                    of art with





                                    less ACTION on the stage this is not an

                                    urban melodrama

                                                            TODAY          faraway voice

                                                                        close faaaaaraaaaaway



            funeral march at the doors of the MUSEUM of the




            go        CONFUSION

                                come       of 1 2 3 4 5

            go                battalions

                         that distorts


            facts and makes





We see how Carrà’s poem inculpates the old art, introduced with the synecdoche of the “museum,” for its failure to inject energy, motion, and virility into the spirit of the new age, favoring instead a futurist aesthetic that can mobilize the reader into support for the war. Disruptions in typography flank the dispersal of troop “battalions,” and the “bureaucratic” time of the clock—with a direct citation of “4:30am”—constitutes the temporal precision of synchronized warfare described by historian Stephen Kern: “[t]he war imposed homogeneous time.”[21] The early morning hour itself indicates the “especially sharp division between night and day—one, a time of movement and activity, the other, of inactivity and waiting,” particularly as concerned the periods of dawn and dusk, during which troops frenziedly gathered supplies and took their battle-ready positions (Kern, Culture of Time and Space, 289). Further, the long stretch of onomatopoeic “tatata’s” gives an especially forceful sonic demonstration of machine-gun fire, a technique we saw Kim borrow above.

By way of comparison, the typographical layout, with cascading blocks or stanzas, is quite similar to Kim’s “Editorial Department,” together miming the movement, dynamism, and shifts in the urban spatiotemporal sensorium. Additionally, the two poems likewise begin with an exact recording of time—“1:30pm” (lunchtime) in Kim’s case, and “4:30am” in Carrà’s (between night and day)—both of which identify a liminal moment or a lull in the fighting, as it were – for Kim, a respite in the propaganda war, and for Carrà, a moment during which preparations are made to begin the battle again on a new day (we need not mention here the liminality of the half hour itself). These temporal markers are not unlike the metatextual status of each poem, freeze-framing the action so as to make it visible or digestible without forfeiting a sense of velocity and urgency, which is rendered by typographical disruption and other avant-garde techniques.

Nonetheless, the discrepancies on the historical and political levels should be quite apparent. After all, Carrà was the creator of the 1914 collage Manifestazione Interventista, a swirling vortex of newspaper clippings, Italian flags, and other textual and painterly fragments melded into a radical composition calling for Italy’s intervention in WWI, commonly recognized as one of the first instances of a work of “high” art to incorporate popular media like the newspaper. Whereas Marinetti’s futurist movement was infamous for its cunning in harnessing and exploiting the disseminating power of the mass media, evident in how Carrà’s piece uses such elements to declare war, Kim’s poem instead thematizes this condition itself to demonstrate how the media is complicit in drumming up support for imperialism.

Kim’s interspersing of irony, satire, and humorous dialogue may then be understood as a defamiliarization of the futurist techniques which had themselves been breaks with traditional poetic rhythm and meter, such that the seriousness and ardor with which Carrà pleads for wartime intervention is reformulated as chauvinist badgering. It is paradoxical that the bleak and dismal conditions of colonial rule would permit such humor and wit, but I contend that an understanding of the historical distance between these two poems, through which the horrors of WWI and imperialist violence became clear in retrospect to Korean writers like Kim and O, is absolutely necessary for making sense of futurism’s belated and modified appearance in colonial Korea.

Weather Map

Kim consolidates these various motifs, including storm warnings, radio transmissions, and global imperialist warfare into his allegorical, epic poem “Weather Map” (Kisangdo), first published in 1935. The long poem consists of seven sections which together narrate the arrival of a storm devastating an unnamed Asian metropolis and paving the way for the rebirth of civilization. In translator Jack Saebyok Jung’s words, the poem’s third and fourth section couplet “presents the storm’s approach and the destruction it brings as a metaphor for the philosophical, political, and economic transformations of the time that often proved disastrous for East Asian nations.”[22] Similarly, scholar Kim Ye-ri posits that “in characterizing satirically through the figure of the ‘weather map’ colonial Korea’s situation within broader Asia’s problematic circumstances in the dramatic 1930s which experienced fascism both globally and locally under Japanese imperialism, ‘Weather Map’ can be considered Kim Ki-rim’s most representative work.”[23]

The poem’s first section narrates an idyllic Occidental setting interrupted by industrial machinery and rationalized time as a coded, even inverted, allegory for the arrival of modernity to East Asia:

Winds were smooth like Saracen silks by the sea,

And the proud landscape lay on its side at the apex of 7 AM.

On the gasping fields

An old scent was scattered by

The rusty tolling from a chapel.

It was time for cows to return to the fields.

Today a lady let yet another steamship be pushed out to sea.[24]

The poem later widens its aperture to take a snapshot of the global span of colonialism in the southern latitudes, with the corresponding production of space by cartography and its service in imperialist expansion:

Carrier pigeons

Leapt from the ship’s roof

And left for the capital.

. . . East of Sumatra . . . 5 kilometers on the sea . . . no member of

the party has a cold.

The equator is near. . . . 10 in the morning of the 20th. . . . . (Kim, “Weather Map,” 211)

The poem’s second section, “Citizen Parade” (“Simin haengnyŏl”), interjects a biting satire of the imperialist bourgeoisie, reversing racialized, colonial tropes of bloodthirsty natives and superimposing them onto propertied whites, and also fashions the “sport” of war in terms of sadistic sexual gratification:

The white cannibal in a necktie

Said he likes negro food more than turkey.

The skin-whitening power of black meat.

It was Dr. Colbert’s prescription.

Helmet-wearing summer vacationers

Obsessed over the messy sport of war.

The referee, a sad soloist, blew his whistle.

Because he was so aroused,

The fascist wore nothing but his underwear.

However, in Italy,

Laxatives were said to be absolutely illegal. (212)

As in “The Shuddering Century,” Kim’s invocation of fascist Italy here indicates his embattled relation to futurism, which he chooses to mock through satirical narrative rather than formal innovation. Nonetheless, the conclusion of the third section of “Weather Map,” “Typhoon’s Coughing Hour” (“T’aep’ung ŭi kich’im sigan”) contains a synthesis of the “transmission” motif from “Shuddering Century” and the weather report of “Storm Warning”:

At the central weather station, the wire operator’s hand
Was busy transcribing all the radio signals
Coming from 1500 substations around the world.

(1st Report)
The center of low pressure
Is northeast of Balkans
South American highlands
690 mm
From time to time
After drizzle
Heavy rain
Blowing Northwest
35 m

 (2nd Report = Typhoon Warning)
Violent typhoon
From South Pacific
Heading straight
Expect strong winds.
Alerting coasts of Asia.

Organized for a single mission are shortwave • shortwave •
longwave • shortwave • ultra-shortwave • all • radio waves •
utilized •

(Town Bulletin Board)
“Gentlemen are advised to have raincoats and cash at hand” (216–17)

Here the 1500 “weather substations” (chungang kisangdae) stand as metonyms for the global sinews of imperialist communications infrastructure. As historian Daqing Yang writes of the Japanese use of telecommunications to consolidate its empire more broadly, “warfare and colonial expansion not only benefited from progress in telecommunications technologies but stimulated their development as well.”[25] The imminently approaching storm may therefore be read not only as a metaphor for the disaster of modernity, but of fascist world war specifically, which Kim predicted from his standpoint in colonial Korea under conditions of encroaching wartime mobilization. In this way, Kim’s weather stations may call to mind Walter Benjamin’s commentary on radio tower construction, coincidentally delivered in one of his radio talks: “the real reason for building these stations lies elsewhere: in politics. Long-range propaganda instruments are desired in case of war.”[26]

Kim’s prescient wit is most visible in the following passage from the poem’s fourth section, “Trace” (chach’oe), which anticipates the full-scale invasion of China by the Japanese just two years after his poem was published:

“For the prosperity of the Great Republic of China—”

Glass cups rang hoarsely in dejected vibrations.

Over a sacred tablecloth,

A palaver unfolded, and within its liquid turns,

An old kingdom’s fate was shaking.

Like Solomon’s lion

Gentle lips sucked on red alcohol.

From a dark sleeve

A white rose smiled sharply.

“For the disintegration of the Great Republic of China—” (“Weather Map,” 218)

This stanza is framed by two dialectically contradictory quotations articulating the false mediation by international bodies like the League of Nations as mere covers for imperialist interests. The direct quotations are not attributed to any visible speaker, and thus the anonymity of this collective group raising a toast to political conquest may inculpate British, American, German, and French imperialists for their concessions in China as much as it points to the militarist ambitions of the Japanese, who had been busily expropriating territory in Northeastern China since 1931.

Jack Saebyok Jung points out that unlike T. S. Eliot’s 1922 “The Waste Land,” with which “Weather Map” shares a structural affinity—including its allegory of rebirth in a decaying civilization—Kim chose to break with Eliot’s conservative passion for reestablishing a certain past-oriented mythology, choosing a decidedly modern and forward-looking symbolic order for his new world (see “Introduction,” 202–203). This is evident in the passage above in which symbolism from antiquity (“old kingdom,” “sacred tablecloth,” “Solomon’s lion”) is couched in a “palaver” (hwandam) as synecdoche for ruthless imperialist rivalry. Here Jung echoes American modernist poetry scholar Ruth Jennison’s assertion that the high modernists’ “pessimistic” or reactionary modernism merely sought to piece together the shards of what Ezra Pound called a “botched civilization” shattered by modernity, Eliot’s “fragments I have shored against my ruins.”[27] In contrast, Kim can be understood as exhibiting a more critical orientation, glimpsing a liberated world order beyond the horrors of warfare and industrial ruin.

“Weather Map” closes with the speaker exhorting citizens to remove “depression, envy and rage” as if they were “wet raincoats, gone moldy” (Kim, 235). If this rainwater is none other than that which falls from the blood-soaked clouds above war-stricken Manchuria in “Storm Warning,” it is not difficult to situate such affects of disillusionment and indignation within the context of global imperialist war, which the poem humorously mocks throughout with jarring metaphors, non sequiturs, and an ironically detached speaker. Kim’s humorous detachment in “Weather Map” may thus be read as a response to futurism in not taking technologies of progress, speed, and ultimately violence too seriously. His utopian future is one in which the logic of accelerated modernization is not replicated in poetic form but itself overcome, or at least replaced, with the poem’s substitution of humorous satire in an interlinked allegorical narrative for typographical and syntactic experimentation of the sort witnessed in his early work.

Kim’s satire may then be said to capture the historical, geographic, and political distances between colonial Korea’s subordinated position and the imperialist cheerleading of Italian futurism, corresponding to Paul Fussell’s argument in his celebrated The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) that irony became the definitive cultural response to the devastation and anomie of the First World War.[28] Vincent Sherry extends Fussell’s argument to claim that through such ironic distance from official, hegemonic narratives of the war, “[o]ne of the main values that literary modernism challenged was the liberal rationalism of the previous centuries,” a rationalism which found its culmination in the cold, calculated attempts at war’s management by political and military leaders despite its uncontainable mayhem and savagery.[29]

Similarly, Korean literature scholar Ham Ton-gyun, in his analysis of modernist Yi Sang’s celebrated “mirror poems,” holds that “the irony of modern poetry emerged both as an ontological sign of a world in which totality had been shattered and as aesthetic epistemology,” such that “irony is also a form that reveals the properties of modernity itself, whose essence is contradiction.”[30] Accordingly, “Weather Map” parodies and subverts liberal rationality—foundational to bourgeois modernity but unmasked as a front imperialist ambition—likewise challenging the hegemonic discourses legitimating Japan’s expansionism in Asia as well as the European powers’ partitioning of the globe in the interest of capital accumulation.

In addition, Yi Sang-jae delineates how the modernist novelists of the “Group of Nine” (Kuinhoe) in the 1930s “foregrounded internalized [naesedoen] stories of sadness” under conditions of social inequality, resorting to irony in particular to formalize this disjuncture between interior and exterior experiences of colonialism.[31] While Yi addresses the hopelessness and disillusionment of middle-class intellectuals during this period, we might instead remark how irony as it is repurposed by poets Kim and O retains a sense of optimism oriented toward a particular objective: the resolution of pressing colonial contradictions with the possibility of overthrowing the system of imperialism and abolishing war.

Moreover, I propose that O’s unpublished long poem “War”—while in many respects a kind of companion piece to Kim’s “Weather Map,” sharing a similar critical perspective toward imperialist expansionism—presents instead an immanent response to Italian futurism’s chauvinism. That is, rather than merely negating futurist warmongering by substituting an ironic, satirical narrative for poetic innovations formalizing the industrial era, “War” adopts full-on futurist techniques like words-in-freedom and montage, thereby making it a far more experimental work than “Weather Map.” Yet like the latter poem, “War” also tempers these techniques with a narrative allegory pertaining to the follies and horrors of modern warfare, producing an unparalleled, hybrid futurist text.

Whereas Yi Hyŏn-sŭng posits that the narrative principle of O’s poem lies in its paratactic, montage-like “arrangement of images,” which cancels out any coherent, reliable narration, I find that it is rather the poem’s oscillation between such camera-like montage and satirical jest of the sort found in Kim’s “Weather Map” that enables its compositional consistency.[32] I insist that this bifurcation between advanced avant-garde techniques, on the one hand, and a traditional form of narrative allegory on the other, be read in conjunction with the nonsynchronous development of colonial Korea, rifted, as it was, between an industrializing future and a feudal agricultural past.

Consequently, I assess that “War” presents a more adequate document of the historical conditions of uneven development and proximity to global imperialist war than “Weather Map,” despite their many commonalities. O’s poem encapsulates the failure of futurism, as it were, to respond adequately to the enlistment of advanced technologies and industrial development in the imperialist conquest and domination of the globe. For this reason, it may be said that O’s poem does not employ futurist techniques unreservedly but rather selectively arranges them within a critical, satirical narrative capable of piercing and deflating Italian futurism’s unwarranted techno-utopianism.

Military Montage

O’s long poem was written over the course of 1934 and approved for publication by the Japanese colonial government’s censorship bureau in January 1935, but only after the deletion of 51 out of a total 486 lines. As a result, the work was never in fact published by the author.[33] While sharing an undeniable affinity with its forebears, O’s “War” can nevertheless be said to differ from Italian futurism most drastically in its combined and uneven amalgamation or juxtaposition of old and new aesthetic forms and images, ranging from Confucian tradition and classicism (the painting the “Four Gentlemen”), Biblical and Eastern mythology (Adam and Eve, the Dragon Palace), satirical allegory, camera montage, parataxis, onomatopoeia, typographic dispersion, and other avant-garde effects. This retention of older forms—although O clearly harbors prejudice for and attempts to supersede tradition—differs from Marinetti’s aesthetic, which condescendingly declares that “the past is necessarily inferior to the future,” and attempts to negate the historical entirely for an unprecedented (and undue) celebration of speed and progress.[34]

O’s poetic approximation of photomontage techniques and splicing via punctuation and line breaks in particular offers another point of comparison: the futurists, enthusiastic about the political effects of mass print media dissemination, also took notice of the photographic revolution and the newfound possibilities of seeing and documentation it engendered.[35] Hence O’s “War” may be read as a sustained reflection on the condition of war reportage through the photographic medium, and the modern visual sensorium informed by the proliferation of images more broadly. Let us first address “War’s” opening section:

Declaration of War


A child-rearing household’s dog-like poet.

A businessman failing to become a war bond salesman.

A bat’s wing. i.e. a rat’s wing


Lees. Food scraps. Digested bits.       And. etc. etc.

An ideal village for livestock.

My baby!

Your fighting is nothing more than slapping an adult’s cheek.

O baby,

If you do that, your hand will be dirtied.

Radio signal~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Continued static accompanying the signal. Static.



Tu rururu

Tu, tu,

A tank piggybacking on an armored car.

A machine gun emerging from a sidecar.

An automatic anti-aircraft gun.

An amphibious assault vehicle.

Uniform wearing athletes cheating the starting line while waiting for the signal pistol shot.[36]

Pak Hyŏn-su recounts how the poem presents a two-pronged satire of both war and of traditional lyric poetry (sŏngsi) indicated in the subtitle’s personification of war as a “poet.”[37] For Pak, the titular “war” signifies both the military and the war within the field of poetry, the latter entailing a generational conflict between older, conservative poets and a younger generation of experimentalists, and thus the term constitutes something of a double entendre. Broadening Pak’s interpretation, Kwak Myŏng-suk observes how poetry for O stands in an uneasy proximity to journalism, on the one hand, and hoary, static tradition on the other, demonstrating the “same strata” (kat’ŭn ch’ŭngwi) on which poetry and journalism are linguistically and discursively situated, despite the common separation between the two.[38] The poem enacts this ambivalent relationship through its sensationalist, “declarative” format further in the following passage:


一Fell ill. A foot-amputating deliveryman.

Ringing the bell is the safety zone’s latest strategy.


An enemy-reconnoitering periscope hangs from an old tree.

A new model rifle with a scope attached.

Evening edition. Today’s one-time-only special issue. Limited printing.

Price: five shillings per item.

“A straw stalk falls and slaps a scarecrow’s cheek.”

                                                                                    一Dispatch No. 2一

(O, Collected Works, 134–35)

The subtitle here of the exclamatory “Extra!” (hooe), commonly used in advertising for news flashes, appropriates the sensationalizing modality of journalism but with entirely vacuous, nonsensical content. In Kwak’s reading, journalism forges a “buffer” (wanch’ung jangch’i) for the “shock of novelty” (singiham ŭi ch’ungkyŏk) experienced in overwhelming events like warfare, pacifying and rendering them “neutral” (chungnipjŏk) through its mediation, while at the same time drumming up patriotism and pro-war sentiment (259). Yi Hyŏn-sŭng makes a similar point when he discerns that O’s long poem “criticizes the journalistic form of coverage” which would merely report in a “cold-hearted” (pijŏngham), objectively distanced manner the horrifying consequences of mechanized war (“Study of ‘War,’” 334).

In O’s poem, journalism’s simultaneous shock value and detachment is announced formally but lacks content, thus parodying its effectiveness in accurately representing war. Like Kim’s “Editorial Department,” O both acknowledges and breaks with this dependency on mass media in his distantiation from the journalistic medium’s blatant propagandistic nature through irony and satire, such as in the following lines: “Journalism’s laborious delivery./ Journalism’s a poor man’s yeast!” (O, Collected Works, 153). O’s characteristic use of paratactic montage interspersed with satirical posturing is perhaps most evident in the following long passage:

A red line on a map. A blue line.

A castrated orange hue. A yellow-tinged plot of land.

A heated diagram of the state of the nation stuck into a test tube.

A pendulum together with the vibrating past.

The present. The present nibbling at the present.

Where is the present for us?!

A report riding time and going on an outing. A command. A secret dispatch.

            A transmitted photograph.


One minute.

Three hundred sixty rounds!


The roar of an airplane.                      A railway gun.

Monoplane, biplane, and triplane.


A general force-feeding patriotism,

A soldier donning and dying for patriotism.

Single-barreled cannon, multiple-barreled cannon.

Gasoline, the smell of blood.

Horse hooves.

Horse hooves, clip-clop, clop, clop, clop, clop.

The cavalry’s 3.7 inch antiaircraft gun.

一Ground-stomping homesickness. 〈An ear-chopping Mongolian soldier.〉

42 centimeters. Gun muzzle. Gun muzzle.

Army flag,

A faithful recording. A stain from a bullet wound. Smelly feet. Rotten breath.

一 A railway bridge swept away.

一 Fording the river by boat. Construction of a military-purpose bridge.

(O, 143–44)

Here the fragmentary accumulation of weaponry and innovations in typography to approximate sonic resonances bears the influence of Japanese dadaist poet Kitasono Katsue’s early work, particularly his 1925 poem “Electrical Enunciation,” published in the avant-garde journal Ge.Gjmgjgam.Prrr.Gjmgem.[39] In John Solt’s description of Kitasono’s poem, “[a]s the logical connection between words, phrases, and lines dissolves and meaning recedes, what remains is a swarming field of visual and auditory signifiers” (Shredding the Tapestry, 35). This presents an instance of how, with the influence of the European avant-gardes, Solt continues, “the visual and auditory aspects of poetry now took precedence over the cognitive function and sentimental affectivity”—what calls to mind O’s “lyric poet”—“that had predominated for centuries” (36).

Immediately evident are the onomatopoeic imitations of mechanical warfare in the “rat-tat-tat” (t’a t’a t’a . . .) of the machine gun, much like those of Kim above, and the sounds of an accelerating aircraft engine (puung, pung pung). While these noises might be heard in a newsreel from the frontline, newsprint is devoid of the extreme decibels that might introduce shock or dread in the observer; the horrifying auditory dimension of warfare, what Douglas Kahn configures as the fullest expression of war’s simultaneity, is something the visual and literary arts largely fail to represent. As Kahn puts it, “[w]ar noises also staked a claim within the avant-garde land grab of the future because they were the newest noises and required new artistic means for their expression.”[40] And, importantly, Nora Lambrecht reflects on how “noise is in modernist war literature just as capable of providing a conceptual bridge across the war experience gap—of communicating—as it is of obstructing understanding.”[41]

O’s poem also communicates olfactory sense perceptions otherwise unavailable to both literature and film, such as “smelly feet” (palkkorinnae) and “rotten breath” (ipgurinnae), and, most revealing of all, the paratactic placement of “gasoline” (kkaesorin) and the “smell of blood” (p’i ŭi huki). This last contrast contaminates the precision of industrial, mechanical warfare as celebrated by the Italian futurists with the messiness and revulsion of injured, bleeding bodies. We may conjecture, then, that what distinguishes O’s montage from mere reportage, above and beyond its jarring and impermissible juxtapositions of images from the front lines, is its careful oscillation between documentation—the paratactic ordering or sequences of noun-images—and clever interjection of satire or otherwise unconventional images of war’s destructiveness or absurdity that elude mainstream representations. These images include, for example, the second stanza’s exposure of the coerced (“force-fed,” maewŏjuda) nature of patriotism (aeguksim), or a soldier’s homesickness (hyangsu), or the absurdist “present nibbling at the present.”

In other words, it is the literary medium’s specific capacity to shuttle between frozen photographic images and the narrative explication of these images, without being pulled exclusively to either pole, that gives O’s poem its critical advantage over journalistic reportage. This fluidity ultimately allows for the theorization of the gaps or incongruities between these two modes of representation; pace Yi Hyŏn-sŭng’s reading, it is not the narrative’s approximation of panoramic camera angles alone, but rather the fragmentary oppositions introduced between photography and narrative, reportage and satire, which give the poem its full force.

Hence the poem’s ability to keep formal innovation and critical content in a tentative balance is what makes it such a unique and interesting literary-historical document. Consider in this respect the lines from the first stanza quoted above concerning a battle-strategy map (“red” and “blue lines” presumably tracing various attack routes). While these paratactic images do not feature any grammatical mediation, corresponding to Marinetti’s “wireless imagination,” the montage-like cross section of battle strategy and the state of the nation (kuksedo) in the following line brings into focus the interdependency of military firepower and economic wherewithal, or, in short, of imperialism and capitalism.[42] These images are not horizontal representations of the battlefield from the linear perspective of the camera, but instead a bird’s eye view grasp of the whole, thus comprising a metacritical map of its own. We find here an intersection between the horizontal (the camera’s panoramic gaze) and vertical (the aircraft’s aerial perspective), which restages poetry’s formal opposition between linear, narrative development (the horizontal line) and spatial, typographic placement on the page or musical resonation (such as consonance or rhyme):

An exhibition on pasturing.

A gaiter strap slipping off.  Dented side and case, (naturally, three thousand feet underground, Napoleon III

with both arms spread wide caresses the crushed aluminum.)

Worn out shoes. A shoe’s snout. The tip of a machine gun.

A button which has lost its home. A dried tissue stuck to a nose.

A photograph.

A photograph,

A photograph of a woman.

A photograph of a girl.

A photograph of a mother.

(Several wounds on the coat of a fallen soldier have a bird’s eye view of the city streets) (O, Collected Works, 144–45)

Further, the condition of photographic representation is metacritically thematized in the above passage, with the repetition of verbal images of “photographs” (sajin) of a homesick soldier’s significant others across several line breaks simulating the flickering of slides in a film reel or the juxtapositions of illustrations in a newspaper column. However, this montage also succeeds in juxtaposing the technical situation of photographic representation with the affective dimension, the soldier’s loneliness and lovesickness. In so doing, it approaches the war’s totality from within as well as from without, in spite of Kate McLoughlin’s contention that war largely “resists representation. ”[43] This tentative convergence between objective as well as subjective dimensions is crystallized in the above passage’s “bird’s-eye view” (chogamdo), sketched with soldiers’ blood. Let us qualify this last point by examining the poem’s “Hospital” (pyŏngwŏn) scene:


Stretcher. Stretcher. Stretcher. Stretcher. Stretcher. Stretcher.

                                                                                    Flag of the Red Cross.

A military doctor taking on the honorable duties of a judge.

A nurse-cum-mourner.

A soldier with a rotting ankle.

A bullet lodged in the stomach. A bullet catching and puncturing the stomach.

A military doctor burning up like a mineshaft.

一 It’s a wounded soldier. His life is hanging by a thread. Yes, sir!

一 …………………………………………..cigarette smoke…………………..

一 A shot of Camphor[44]

一 Ha, ha, ha, ha, y’all still don’t know what war’s like?

(O, Collected Works, 139–40)

Here O repurposes the futurist enthusiasm for speed and the technique of paratactic juxtaposition to tally the innumerable human casualties of war, as the repetition of the term “stretcher” (tŭlkŏt) along a single linear axis hurries the reader to complete the line. The scene’s focal content would betray what Perloff calls the complementary “violence and precision” at the heart of the futurist project, since such a hospital scene finds little place among images of the cold steel and metallic flushness of the futurists’ war machines, dramatizing the messiness and carnage of war rather than its technical exactitude (Futurist Moment, 80). The infected wounds, the grieving nurses, the overworking of military doctors and their conversion into arbiters of life or death through triage—each of these gruesome field hospital vignettes works against the excessive formalism by which futurism celebrates the “repayment in ‘human material’” Benjamin avers is ransomed by imperialist war qua “uprising on the part of technology.”[45]

In Cinematic Modernism, Susan McCabe elucidates the film-like qualities of the First World War, noting that “[i]n its simultaneous absorption of the spectator into a ‘continuous present’ of moving images, the viewing of film, to some extent, paralleled the experience of the ‘shell holes’ of the battlefield.”[46] To better appreciate this cinematic experience’s relation to the accelerated intensity of warfare, however, we require a fuller understanding of the mechanics and phenomenology of montage. Sergei Eisenstein theorized montage as the exclusive and defining feature of cinema. In his symphonic understanding of “overtones” and “undertones” in a given shot—the various “stimulants” or hierarchical arrangement of foreground and background content along with technical aspects like lighting, camera angle, perspective, and so on—Eisenstein focused on how montage, which is simply the cutting or transition between shots, produced an affective or “physiological” reaction in the viewer.[47]

This response, Eisenstein argued, if properly induced through effective juxtapositions, made conceivable a “fourth dimension” of higher understanding on both the physiological and intellectual levels, one indispensable, given his political objectives as a filmmaker, for a revolutionary consciousness of social transformation. He writes: “The visual overtone proves to a be a real piece, a real element . . . of the fourth dimension. Of what is spatially unrepresentable in three-dimensional space and only emerges and exists in the fourth dimension (three plus time)” (“Fourth Dimension,” 185).

In Caroline Maclean’s gloss of this process, “[o]vertonal montage releases images from two dimensions because a new kind of cinema requires a new perception of space.”[48] This freedom from two-dimensionality was conditioned by, for one, the newly generated spaces of wartime, although the latter’s disorienting qualities instead “exceed representation fully as much as they do conceptualization,” as Fredric Jameson puts it, working rather to the opposite effect of Eisenstein’s enlightening montage.[49] Whereas Robert Scholes finds fault in the coercive nature of Eisenstein’s didactic montage, as “work[ing] in such a way that ‘the spectator is compelled’ to experience what the author has experienced, and in the very way that the author has experienced it,” I find it is precisely in the instructive possibilities of montage that the nearly unrepresentable plenitude of modern warfare can be brought into some intelligible coherence.[50]

This is what I suggest O’s poem pursues in its paratactic contrasts between subjective and objective moments of warfare introduced above, in contradistinction to the Italian futurists, who liquidate the subject and solder it to the mechanical apparatus of the war machine to focus only on its objective, technical manifestations. O’s defamiliarization of warfare may thereby “transform our habitual reactions,” as P. Adams Sitney writes of Eisenstein’s fellow Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s theory of cinematic montage, referring in this context to Vertov’s 1925 film Kinoglaz (Film Eye) and its use of the rewind to trace in reverse the many social mediations involved in the process of factory farming.[51]

These ideas about montage—formulated primarily by Soviet film theorists, but then circulating in Europe in the 1920s—also had a direct influence on colonial Korean artists and intellectuals. As Yi Ki-ju recounts, “in the 1930s, figures such as Sŏ Kwang-je and Oh Dŏk-sun translated and introduced the works of Soviet film theorists such as Vertov, Pudovkin, Timoshenko, and Eisenstein, influencing modernist poets of the era such as Kim Ki-rim.”[52] In particular, Kim’s receptivity to modernism was founded in part on an interest in the burgeoning media of film, by which he saw an analogy between the new poetry’s demand for “composition” (kusŏng) and “structure” (kujo) against the old sentimentalism and the combination (kyŏlhap) or overlap (chungbok) of disparate elements accomplished through the splicing of shots in cinematic montage (Yi, “Montage techniques,” 53, 55).

As Yi recounts, Eisenstein’s notion of “optical counterpoint” was operative in Kim’s “Weather Map” insofar as “this poem repeatedly strikes together [ch’ungdol sik’inda] vignettes of civilization in scattered, discontinuous images” (56–57). Similarly, Kang Ho-jŏng queries how “modernist poets had hopes of finding in film the origin of the ‘new’ [seroum] they were pursuing,” acknowledging the similarities between literary and cinematic montage in the early modernist poetry of O and Im Hwa in particular.[53] One exemplary case is O’s experimental poem “Camera Room” (K’amaera rum), with its “intervals” (kankyŏk) between 7 discrete sections, corresponding to “seven strips of film,” which can be said to resurface in the multiple reels of the long poem “War” (Kang, “Aspects,” 146).

Far from just “a mixed bag full of obviously incongruous components,” as suggested by Jean-Jacques Thomas’s definition of collage, O Chang-hwan’s long poem “War” similarly combines multiple photographic images of war materiel and mechanized violence into a digestible (albeit revolting) “assemblage” or montage in the spirit of Eisenstein’s fourth dimension qua antiwar class consciousness.[54] This at least is the structural unity of the poem Yi Hyŏn-sŭng locates above, in spite of the poem’s absence of a reliable narrator or any evident linear direction.

Nevertheless, it cannot finally be said that O’s poem successfully captures war in its immense social totality. As Laura Wittman puts it, “the ubiquitous violence of war not only crushes all conventions—of society, of individuality and sentiment, of traditional morality—it also shatters the categories that shape human perception and understanding.”[55] Thus, full representation may not ever be possible for any single perceiving subject or work of art.[56] Yet O’s critical use of montage to reveal the human costs of warfare and its relation to imperialism—in ways that differ greatly from the Italian futurists’ fetish of war’s technical achievements alone—arguably makes convincing effort to synthesize and grasp war’s consequences for colonial Korean society.

Ultimately the antinomy between war’s unrepresentability, its defiance of human cognition, and the unceasing efforts to represent it, is insurmountable. This explains why the temptation to relinquish a self-referential, formal language with which to communicate the shocks of war, such as montage, by switching to the false immediacy of traditional allegorical narrative was so great; as we saw, Kim mostly abandoned his pioneering experimental techniques when drafting “Weather Map.” Hence my argument that it is finally not through montage alone but instead the uneasy coexistence of avant-garde parataxis and allegorical narrative that propels O’s poem toward closure.

We might say, then, that O’s effort to hold these two modalities (montage and allegory, experiment and tradition) in tension bears some relation to the impossibility of even development under Japanese colonialism; the contradictions inherent in the early stages of imperialist accumulation prevented such a fortuitous resolution. Likewise, on the formal level, O’s poem could not neglect its medium specificity at the risk of adopting the language of the very instrumental rationality epitomized by the war against which it was struggling. Yet neither could it surrender itself to the atomization imposed by the logic of imperial violence in the abstraction of free-floating collage, whatever the nature of the originary traumatic event.

O’s poem retains a political conviction to indict war directly and colonial violence indirectly by productively combining these two poles of literary representation into a unique, fragmentary modernist aesthetic adequate to colonial Korean society’s contradictory position within the formal Japanese empire. That is, Korea was ambivalently situated far from the battlefields emerging on the Chinese mainland but also as a subordinated colony in much closer geopolitical proximity to China’s ongoing dispossession than to the Japanese metropole to which it juridically belonged.

Manchurian Modern

Kwak Myŏng-suk comments on how O Chang-hwan’s “War” introduces vast amounts of weaponry and equipment that range from medieval relics like swords and shields to contemporaneous heavy firepower like battleships, railway guns, and fighter plans, and even futuristic weapons like the “death ray” (kwaeryŏksŏn).[57]  I locate “War’s” most memorable intervention in its presentation of chemical weapons through a similar conglomeration of substantive nouns:

Asphyxiant = Chlorine.  Phosgene. Diphosgene.

Vesicant = Roast (in French, Yperite). Lewisite.

Lachrymant. A poison agent’s sneeze-inducing property = Xylyl bromide. Chloropicrin. Chloride acetophenone.

(These lyric poets, together with exploding bullets, are made to penetrate defective gas masks

            and induce sneezes and tears, and make you take off the gas mask at just the right

            moment to deliver a severely lethal poison gas.) Diphenylarsincyanide. Arsenic chloride.[58]


Lethal in one minute. Adamsite. (O, Collected Works, 139)

Listing chemical agents through compounds of very technical and often obscure Chinese characters, this dense passage resembles more of a laboratory inventory or weapons storage unit than a typical antiwar lyric or epic narrative poem. Kwak and Pak Hyŏn-su have both honed on the parenthetical passage for its allegorical association between lyric poetry’s stultifying sentimentalism and the potency of “poison gas” (tokwasa), which recalls Karl Krauss’s WWI-era expressionist parody of warfare, The Last Days of Mankind (Die letzten Tage der Menschheit, 1919), with its personification of gasmasks delivering dramatic monologues.[59] Further, O’s “tears” (nunmul) remember the irony-saturated gas masks (les masques) from French futurist and cubist Guillaume Apollinaire’s WWI-themed collection of visual poems, Calligrammes: “The masks will simply/ be wet with tears/of laughter of laughter.”[60]

But O’s employment of Marinetti’s technique of parole in liberta in this passage seems to emphasize not speed or movement but rather something of the chemist’s analytic breakdown of poisons into their elements, as if to reassemble these weapons from their molecular building blocks, or to combine the latter in new ways, such as in formulas that would explode in puffs of smoke, singeing the reader’s eyebrows and disclosing lyric poetry’s complicity with war’s literary naturalization.

The above peculiar combination of basic toxic chemical components rather than the readymade machine guns, cannons, or battleships in other passages would seem to push against the objectification and dehumanization of mechanized war by querying the very epistemological status of objectivity even while it simultaneously reaffirms it through the excision of mediating grammar and its formal prioritization of the substantive noun. In this way it would venture beyond even the inhuman vacuum Jessica Burstein calls “cold modernism,” wherein the subject simply fails to appear, insofar as in O’s passage the subject is not only subtracted, but its grammatical role is usurped by a constellation of chemical agents.[61]

Elsewhere in O’s poem the fine line between subjectivity and objectification in wartime labor’s proximity to death—as such perhaps the most precarious and subaltern of all human activities—is thematized in poetic content. In a line censored by the colonial government, O asks, “Is a guy who died wearing a medal happy?” Pak Hyŏn-su notes how this and other passages satirize military honor and rank by devaluing the symbolism of the war medal (hunjang), for example with the line, “A worthless medal sags on the chest of a noncommissioned officer like an old woman’s breasts” (Pak, Korean Modernist Aesthetics, 216; O, Collected Works, 137). Pak then compares the semiotic function of the medal in O’s “War” with the strikingly similar opening poem of Japanese modernist Kitagawa Fuyuhiko’s 1929 collection of the same title (pronounced Sensō in Japanese) (Korean Modernist Aesthetics, 216). Kitagawa’s poem was written during his residence in the colonial port city of Dalian in Manchuria, and clearly exercised influence over O’s own poetry:

So what if there’s a diamond for an artificial eye? So what if a medal decorates the ribs covered with moss?

We cannot but smash the enormous head from which intestines dangle. We cannot help but smash the enormous head from which intestines dangle.

When will the bone ash be blown from the palm like a dandelion?[62]

The first line of Kitagawa’s poem above sketches a similar contrast between the morbid skeletal remains and shining medal found in Japanese-American painter Sakari Suzuki’s grisly expressionism-inflected 1937 composition War, whose predominant subject, fittingly, is surrounded by infantrymen donning gas masks. Here the decay of ribs (abarabone), precipitated by the overgrowth of moss (koke), draws attention to the equalization of human bodies—war’s “cannon fodder”—and object possessions—the medal as the incarnation of imperialist greed. Indeed, in this passage, the body appears subordinate to the medal/metal which outlives it, just as countless human soldiers are sacrificed to the war machine in pursuit of ideologies of patriotism and honor which in fact mask the imperialist ambitions of a select few.

The first line’s twice-repeated expression “so what?” (nani ni narau) might be interpreted as devaluing not only these “spoils” of war, but also the ideologies that would degrade human creativity and collectivity to the pursuit of profit.  In the second line, Kitagawa anthropomorphizes the imperialist war machine as “an enormous head from which intestines dangle” which we must “smash” (lit. “pulverize,” funsai) as a matter of life or death. This metaphor further personifies the totalizing, objective character of industrial warfare, almost beyond the control of any individual subjective actors.

In his careful reading of Kitagawa’s collection, William O. Gardner perceives how the poet’s view of the railway (tetsudo), perhaps Kitagawa’s preeminent metonym for the violence of Japanese penetration and colonization of Manchuria, “is from the inside,” that is to say, “the predominant ‘ruin’ and ‘pain to human beings’ associated with the railway's expansion is located within the colonizing force itself, and not with those in the subjugated territory, which is represented as devoid of human life.”[63] Thus, although intending to condemn Japanese imperialism, Gardner concedes, Kitagawa’s poems end up reproducing colonialist logic by rendering the Manchurian landscape a passive, empty space (what he links formally to Kitagawa’s use of the “blank” page or buranku) waiting to be conquered rather than a site populated by indigenous voices and perspectives opposing Japanese encroachment.

In her study of Korean novelist Kang Kyong-ae’s writings set in Manchuria, Jeehyun Choi observes how, given its confluence of competing Japanese imperialist, Chinese nationalist, and Korean immigrant interests, the region “evades any simple center-periphery binary model,” so that “examining its cultural and literary production suggests the capacity of peripheral literature to reveal more nuanced dimensions of the world-system.”[64] Much like my own argument about Kim and O’s peripheral location, Choi recognizes a determinative relation between Manchuria’s uneven development and Kang’s distortions and extensions of literary realism, such that her marginality enabled Kang to reflect back on the capitalist world-system’s own necessarily distorted expansion. However, echoing Gardner, Toshiko Ellis explicates how for Kitagawa and fellow poet Anzai Fuyue, founding members of the shi to shiron (poetry and poetics) modernist group which would have a strong influence on the Korean poets Yi Sang and O Chang-hwan in the early 1930s, the Manchurian port city of Dalian represented a “third space” or aesthetic alternative to the rigid dichotomy between Japanese tradition and exotic or “modern” Western influence.[65] Although Ellis admits that Kitagawa “approached ‘Asia’ in a strikingly different manner to that of Anzai’s, striving to present a critique of Japanese colonialism,” taken together, Gardner’s and Ellis’s findings caution against any simple association between peripheral location itself and opposition to imperialism (“Topography,” 496).

In other words, although Kitagawa’s choice to relocate to the outskirts of the Japanese empire and his efforts to criticize the ongoing colonial project were certainly commendable, this in itself was not enough to rid his poetry of the colonizer’s gaze, formally or thematically, a problematic not applicable to colonized Korean writers like Kim, O, or Kang. This case further corroborates Louise Young’s account, in her seminal text on Japan’s puppet state in Manchuria, of the unlikely marriage between ostensibly well-intentioned leftist intellectuals and colonial business elites through their “shared vision of the utopian potential of Manchukuo.”[66] While the incipient state erected something of a laboratory for experiments in what Edward Denison and Guangyu Ren call “ultra-modernism,” Kitagawa and his cohort, despite their leftist, antiwar inclinations, were finally unable to maintain a corrective to what Annika Culver summarizes as the mission of avant-garde propaganda in Manchuria: to “glorify the empire.”[67]

Peripheral Futurism

How then are we to understand the discrepancy between Kim’s and O’s situations, in which their distanced perspective toward imperialism produced far more promising, critical results, and that of Kitagawa, who remained enmeshed in the colonial web he sought to escape? I will close with a tentative (and admittedly insufficient) response. First, there is the obvious matter of the time gap between Kitagawa’s 1929 publication and O’s 1934 unpublished work; in between this brief span, Japanese aggression in China had intensified exponentially after the 1931 “Manchurian Incident,” which made the predatory nature of Japanese imperialism that much more obvious to the Korean poets.

Second, although Kitagawa may, in a more immediate sense, have for a brief period been witness to imperialist expansion underway in China, as a citizen born and raised on the Japanese archipelago he was in fact aesthetically and ideologically closer to the metropole than the Koreans Kim and O. The latter, by contrast, grew up in the repressive, racialist climate of Japanese occupation as it structured their everyday life and society, even if they were never exposed to full-scale militarization. What arguably shapes any aesthetic is ultimately not direct sensory exposure but what Raymond Williams famously called a “structure of feeling” that pervades and undergirds a society’s sensorium. In this case, colonial Korea may be read as farther on the periphery of empire than Kitagawa’s Japanese enclave in Dalian, even while it experienced imperialist violence in a less severe, localized manner than China, the primary target of Japan’s military might. In this way, in comparison to Kitagawa, Kim, and O could record and formalize the wider experience of colonialism and imperialism from a position of far more disillusionment with and mistrust of Japan’s cultural and political location in the world system, much as the colonial Korean setting differed from Italian futurism’s own experience of industrial warfare on the European continent.

Both Kim and O’s futurist poems defamiliarize the experience of colonial modernization geared toward fascist world war, recognizing the inseparability of capitalism and industrial warfare. Kim’s notion of a “shuddering century” affords us one means by which to register capitalist modernity’s tendency toward escalating conflict as perceived from the peripheral site of the colony-cum-military base, while his long poem “Weather Map” challenges conservative narratives of decay and renewal such as those of Eliot with a satirical allegory of the destruction and transgression of the extant imperial world system.

Alternately, O’s long poem “War” fully adopts futurist techniques of montage and words in freedom only to repurpose them in pursuit of a critical account of colonial Korea’s modernization and wartime mobilization following rising hostilities in continental Asia. The incorporation of a complementary satirical narrative in O’s “War” similar to that of “Weather Map” provides further evidence of the combined and uneven development of both Korea’s economy and its literary modernism, and together the two works demonstrate that Korean futurism was no mere imitation of its Italian predecessor but could creatively and effectively adopt such literary techniques to gauge and problematize the specific conditions of Korea’s historical conjuncture in the mid-1930s, caught between a semifeudal past behind it and descent into world war ahead.


The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive, critical feedback, and the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) for supporting research on this article in 2016.

[1] Cinzia Sartini Blum, The Other Modernism: F. T. Marinetti's Futurist Fiction of Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 1–2.

[2] Marjorie Perloff, The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 36.

[3] Tyrus Miller, “Futurism,” in A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture, ed. David Bradshaw (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008): 169–175, 169.

[4] Nathan Brown, “Postmodernity, Not Yet: Toward a New Periodisation,” Radical Philosophy 2, no. 1 (2018): 11–27, 20.

[5] Quoted in Martin Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 80.

[6] Christine Poggi, Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 30; emphasis mine.

[7] Willard Bohn, The Other Futurism: Futurist Activity in Venice, Padua, and Verona (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 4.

[8] Günter Berghaus, “Futurism and the Technological Imagination Poised between Machine Cult and Machine Angst,” in Futurism and the Technological Imagination, ed. Günter Berghaus, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009), 1–39, 27.

[9] Youngna Kim, “Cubism in Korea,” in Cubism in Asia: Unbounded Dialogues (Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, 2006), 189–92, 189.

[10] Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2008), 4.

[11] Natsume Sōseki, Sanshiro: A Novel, trans. Jay Rubin (New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 18.

[12] Song Min-ho, “1920 nyŏndae ch’ogi Kim Ch’an-yŏng ŭi yesullon kwa kŭ ŭimi” [“Kim Ch’an-yong’s Early 1920s Art Criticism and its Meaning”], Taedong munhwa yŏngu 71, (2010): 295–327, 326. All translations the author’s unless otherwise noted.

[13] See Yoshikawa Nagi, Kyŏngsŏng ŭi Tada, Tonggyŏng ŭi Tada: Tadaisŭt'ŭ Ko Han-Yong kwa Ch'in'gudŭl [“Seoul Dada, Tokyo Dada: The Dadaist Ko Han-yong and Friends”] (Seoul: Yima, 2015).

[14] Sŏ Yu-ri, “Hanguk kŭndae ŭi kihakjŏk ch’usang tijain kwa ch’usang misul tamron—1920-30 nyŏndae ŭi chapji p’yoji tijain ŭl chungsim ŭro” [“Discourse on Modern Korean Abstract Geometric Design and Abstract art—On 1920-30s-era Magazine Cover Design”], Misulsa Hakbo 35, (2010): 171–211, 209.

[15] Sunyoung Park, introduction to On the Eve of the Uprising and Other Stories from Colonial Korea, trans. Sunyoung Park and Jefferson J. A. Gatrall, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell East Asia Series, 2010), xi­–xvii, xiv.

[16] Janet Poole, When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 1–2.

[17] Brandon Palmer, Fighting for the Enemy: Koreans in Japan’s War, 1937–1945 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013), 3.

[18] Kim Ki-rim, Wŏnbon Kim Ki-rim si chŏnjip [Kim Ki-rim Collected Poems: Original Texts], ed. Pak T’ae-sang, (Seoul: Kip’ŭnsaem, 2014), 526.

[19] See Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962).

[20] Carlo Carrà, “A Medium’s Musings [Musing No. 3],” in Futurism: An Anthology, ed. Lawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, and Laura Wittman (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 449–50.

[21] Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space: 1880–1918 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 288.

[22] Jack Saebyok Jung, “Introduction,” Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture 9 (2016): 201–203, 202.

[23] Kim Ye-ri, Imiji ŭi Chŏngch’ihak kwa modŏnijŭm: Kim Ki-rim ŭi yesullon [Image Politics: An Essay on the Literature and Art of Kim Ki-rim] (Seoul: Somyŏng Ch’ulpan, 2013), 302.

[24] Kim Ki-rim, “Weather Map,” trans. Jack Saebyok Jung, Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture 9 (2016): 209–35, 210–11.

[25] Daqing Yang, Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883–1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010), 35.

[26] Walter Benjamin, “The Situation in Broadcasting,” trans. Jonathan Lutes, in Radio Benjamin, ed. Lecia Rosenthal (New York: Verso, 2014), 372.

[27] Jennison, Ruth. The Zukofsky Era: Modernity, Margins, and the Avant-Garde (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), 2–3.

[28] See Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).

[29] Vincent B. Sherry, The Great War and the Language of Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 17.

[30] Ham Ton-gyun, “Yi Sang si ŭi airŏni wa mijŏk chuch’ae ŭi yullihak: chŏngsin punsŏkjŏk kwanjŏmŭl chungsimŭro” [“Irony in Yi Sang’s Poetry and the Ethics of the Aesthetic Subject: Toward a Psychoanalytic Perspective”] (PhD diss., Korea University, 2010), x. See the English-language abstract to Ham’s PhD dissertation, available at

[31] Yi Sang-jae, “1930 nyŏndae kuinhoe chakka ŭi naemyŏn ŭisik kwa p’yohyŏn pangsik yŏngu” [“A Study of 1930s Kuinhoe Writers’ Internal Consciousness and Methods of Representation”], Hanŏmun kyoyuk 27, (2012): 203–28, 222.

[32] Yi Hyŏn-sŭng, “O Chang-hwan ŭi ‘chŏnjaeng’ yŏngu” [“A Study of O Chang-hwan’s ‘War’”], Pipyŏng munhak 42, (2011): 325–48, 347.

[33] See Kim Hak-dong, O Chang-hwan pyŏngjŏn [A Biography of O Chang-hwan] (Seoul: Saemunsa, 2004), 199–200.

[34]  F.T. Marinetti, F.T. Marinetti: Critical Writings, ed. Günter Berghaus and Doug Thompson (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008), 43–46, 44.

[35] See the Guggenheim Museum’s entry for futurist photography here:

[36] O Chang-hwan, O Chang-hwan chŏnjip [O Chang-hwan Collected Works] ed. Kim Chae-yong, (Seoul: Silch’ŏn Munhaksa, 2002), 133–34.

[37] Pak Hyŏn-su, Hanguk modŏnijŭm sihak [Korean Modernist Poetics] (Seoul: Singu Munhwasa, 2007), 194.

[38] Kwak Myŏng-suk, Hanguk kŭndaesi ŭi hŭrŭm kwa kowŏn [Flow and Plateau in Modern Korean Poetry] (Seoul: Somyŏng Ch’ulp’an, 2015), 259.

[39] John Solt, Shredding the Tapestry of Meaning: The Poetry and Poetics of Kitasono Katue, 1902–1978 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1999), 26.

[40] Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 59; emphasis in original.

[42] Marinetti’s “wireless imagination” was another iteration of his parole in liberta. “By wireless imagination,” he writes, “I mean the absolute freedom of images or analogies expressed by liberated words, without the conducting wires of syntax and without any punctuation” (F. T. Marinetti, “Wireless Imagination,” in F.T. Marinetti: Selected Poems and Related Prose, ed. Luce Marinetti, trans. Elizabeth R. Napier [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002], 87–88, 87).

[43] Kate McLoughlin, Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 6.

[44] A camphor oil injection was used to relieve pain in hospitals in East Asia in the early to mid-twentieth century. See “K’aemp’ul chusa,” Tonga Ilbo, 1926.7.29, 2. Such injections may also be found in Western literature of the time, such as in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg, 1924).

[45] Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducability: Third Version,” in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 4:251–83, 270.

[46] Susan McCabe, Cinematic Modernism: Modernist Poetry and Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 62.

[47] Sergei Eisenstein, “The Fourth Dimension in Cinema,” in Selected Works: Vol. 1, ed. Richard Taylor (London: British Film Institute, 1988) 181–94, 183.

[48] Caroline Maclean, “‘That Magic Force that is Montage’: Eisenstein’s Filmic Fourth Dimension, Borderline and H.D.,” Literature & History 21, no. 1 (2012): 44–60, 56.

[49] Fredric Jameson, The Antinomies of Realism (New York: Verso, 2013), 257.

[50] Robert Scholes, Paradoxy of Modernism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), 102–103.

[51] P. Adams Sitney, Modernist Montage: The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema & Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), 42.

[52] Yi Ki-ju, “Kim Kirim · Cho Hyang ŭi i siron ae nat’anan mongtaju kibŏp” [“Montage Techniques in Kim Ki-rim and Cho Hyang’s Poetics”], Hanguk munye pipyŏng yŏngu 53, (2017): 41–71, 70.

[53] Kang Ho-jŏng, “1930 nyŏndae si ae nat’anan yŏnghwajŏk kibŏp ŭi yangsang: O Chang-hwan kwa Im Hwa ŭi kyŏngu” [“Aspects of Cinematic Method in 1930s Poetry: The Case of O Chang-hwan and Im Hwa“], Pigyo hangukhak 15, no. 1 (2007): 139–64, 143.

[54] Jean-Jacques Thomas, “Collage/Space/Montage,” in Collage, ed. Jeanine Parisier Plottel, (New York: NY Literary Forum, 1983), 79–102, 85.

[55] Laura Wittman, “Introduction to Part Three: Stars-in-Freedom and the Dark Night of Futurism,” in Futurism: An Anthology, 409–18, 411.

[56] This is what I gather from Evelyn Cobley’s assertion that “no rendering of the war experience is in a position to reproduce reality as such. No matter how documentary or autobiographical an account may be, it can never be more than a war story among other war stories” (Representing War: Form and Ideology in First World War Narratives [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993], 15).

[57] This range of weaponry is so extensive that Kwak even introduces a chart to classify each of the items (Flow and Plateau, 249).

[58] Various chemical agents used by both sides as weapons in WWI.

[59] See Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Mankind, trans. Fred Bridgham and Edward Timms, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015).

[60] Guillaume Apollinaire, Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War, trans. Anne Hyde Greet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 149.

[61] See Jessica Burstein, Cold Modernism: Literature, Fashion, Art (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012).

[62] Kitagawa Fuyuhiko, Kitagawa Fuyuhiko shishū [Kitagawa Fuyuhiko Poetry Collection], (Tokyo: Chūsekisha, 2000), 42.

[63] William O. Gardner, “Colonialism and the Avant-Garde: Kitagaawa Fuyuhiko’s Manchurian Railway,” Stanford Humanities Review, vol. 7, no. 1 (1999), par. 14.

[64] Jeehyun Choi, "Writing Manchukuo: Peripheral Realism and Awareness in Kang Kyŏngae’s Salt," Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review no. 28 (2018): 48–68, 54.

[65] Toshiko Ellis, “The Topography of Dalian and the Cartography of Fantastic Asia in Anzai Fuyue’s Poetry,” Comparative Literature Studies 41, no. 4 (2004): 482–500, 496.

[66] Louise Young, Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 19.

[67] See Annika Culver, Glorify the Empire: Japanese Avant-Garde Propaganda in Manchukuo (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), 2014; Edward Dennison and Guangyu Ren, eds. Ultra-Modernism: Architecture and Modernity in Manchuria (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2017).