Kim Saryang's Tenma

Words: 1361
Pages: 6

Written by Kim Saryang, “Tenma” critiques the desire of colonized Koreans to contribute in the Japanese assimilation policy through acts such as adopting Japanese names and following social standards of Japanese culture. Through a satirical character named Genryu, a mentally and physically oppressed Korean by the Japanese supremacy, he eventually grows to be embarrassed of his own ethnicity, which then leads to insanity due to his failure to succeed as neither a Japanese nor Korean. The author emphasizes his inability to cope with both the Korean and Japanese society through acts of deliriousness. In the novel, his delirium symbolizes the majority of colonial Korea who experience adversities due to their identity as Koreans. With Genryu’s ironic …show more content…
Throughout the novel, the idea of self-reflection and finding inner peace is constantly implied as Genryu attempts to avoid his journey as a monk. This statement, ironically, refers to Master Yun’s symbolism of “Peace Under Heaven”, which is to obtain general peace and harmony as a nation. However, Genryu is the opposite of what Master Yun desires; his character represents the social disruption constructed by the Japanese domination, which led to their culture’s failure to achieve peace and harmony amongst each other as well as other nations. At the end, due to the sense of abandonment, hopelessness, lack of self-awareness, and misery, he has finally given up on everything that has to do with his own Korean ethnicity by shouting his name as “Gennoue Ryunosuke.” He exemplifies the majority of Koreans who experience similar misfortunes due to the lack of opportunities to enhance their lives under their own identity, which ultimately leads to their assimilation with the Japanese culture. As he fails to be accepted by both cultures, Genryu finally throws his own ethnicity away and chooses to fully become Japanese as