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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

IIAS Newsletter: "War and the colonial legacy in recent South Korean scholarship"

Enlightening article in the most recent IIAS Newsletter by Kyu Hyun Kim, assoc. prof. of Japanese history U. of California: War and the colonial legacy in recent South Korean scholarship, in which he introduces some of the not-yet-mainstream Korean "post-nationalistic" (?) scholarship on Japanese colonialism in Korea. The scholars and their work introduced are Im Chi-hyôn, Minjokchuûinûn panyôgida (Nationalism is Treason) (Seoul: Sonamu, 1999), Sin Hyông-gi, Minjok iyagirûl nômôsô (Beyond the story of the nation) (Seoul: Sam’in, 2003), and Yun Hae-dong: Singminjiûi hoesaek chidae (Grey zone of colonialism) (Seoul: Yŏksa Pip’yŏngsa, 2003).

The final paragraph of Kim's article:
Im Chi-hyôn, Sin Hyông-gi and Yun Hae-dong’s works reflect a new type of scholarship in Korean studies, still in the minority, but growing in importance, which tackle the difficulties and problems of accessing memory of the colonial period. Critical of the ‘nationalist’ perspective that, in its extreme but by no means atypical form, has cast the colonial-period experience as a shameful legacy to be discarded from the master narrative of Korean ethnos/nation, these scholars have found anti-colonial nationalism to be ‘implicated’ in post-1945 North and South Korea’s war mobilization programs, which have ironically shared important features with those implemented by the wartime Japanese government. These works suggest that both unreflective rejection of the colonial legacy in its entirety and whitewashing of the collaboration and wartime mobilization among colonized Koreans are inadequate for initiating the process of exploring postcolonial Korean identity. Together with honest and thorough re-examination by Japanese, Chinese and other East Asian scholars of the colonial experiences and wartime legacies of their respective peoples ­ as colonizers and colonized, aggressors and victims, ‘collaborators’ and resisters - we can hope, in the very near future, to encounter many challenging and illuminating works of scholarship on Korea between 1937 and 1945.

Update, Oct. 26, 2005

Review by Kim Seong-jae of Im's book "Nationalism is Treason" (민족은 반역이다) in which is I guess the Chosun University (Gwangju) newspaper. It's important to know that the concept for "people" or the subject for whom the nationalism should be reformulated is minjung. That does not sound very original yet, stating that instead of the use of nationalism (minjokchuûi) by the rulers in their ideologies, it should be put into use for the "masses."
(I've always thought that the appropriation of the concept minjung on someone presupposes that there is a "proper" awareness of minjok and minjokchuûi.) The book in Aladdin Bookshop.
Beyond the story of the nation (민족 이야기를 넘어서) in Libro Bookshop
Grey zone of colonialism (식민지의 회색지대) in Aladdin

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