I had a chance to look into two primary sources on ‘school strikes (同盟休校)’ (mostly in common schools) in the colonial period of Korea (the Kominka period in particular), and translated some of the records from Japanese to English. The documents I looked at are: 高等外事月報 (朝鮮総督府警務局) and 朝鮮思想運動概況(朝鮮軍). It is quite interesting and I would like to share some of the anecdotes here.
<Students’ Complaints in 1937-1939>
The main complaints throughout these years were about the excessive amount of ‘practice (jisshū)’ classes at the expense of academic training. Many went on strike because they perceived that they were not receiving adequate education or were not provided with qualified teachers. In many of these cases, the quality of education mattered more than ethnicity. To give a few examples;
- 69 male students out of the total of 80 fourth graders were discontent about the educational policy of the new Japanese principal who emphasized only ‘practice’ classes and disregarded academic courses. The class president and 5 other students gathered all the male students and decided to go on school strike during that week. They carried out the strike the next day. But after the local police and the school caught the six instigators, all the rest attended school the following day. (Kyŏnggi, Common School, May 1937)
- 32 forth graders went on strike in the hope that the school would hire an additional teacher and reduce the number of self-study hours. The police detected the plan, and dissuaded them from carrying it out. (North Ch’ungch’ŏng, Common School, March 1937)
- Students were discontent with a Korean teacher of Buddhism and the Korean language for his short temper and ineffective pedagogy. 32 students went on strike for two days. (South Kyŏngsang, Buddhist School, May 1937)
- Civil engineering students were discontent with the Japanese principal’s decision to hire a new Japanese teacher to replace a resigning Korean teacher since the new teacher lacked adequate educational background. 101 students went for strike, but after the principal explained his intention to promote school reform and discipline by hiring a Japanese teacher, and promised to hire another Japanese teacher with higher technical knowledge, the students were satisfied and resumed attending school. (South Ch’ungch’ŏng, 1939)