우물 안 개구리


자료소개: Chōsen chihō gyōsei (朝鮮地方行政)

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 8:27 am Print

I would like to quickly introduce one source from the colonial period, a journal called Chōsen chihō gyōsei, or Korean Local Administration. It was published monthly starting the early 1920s (I think it’s 1922). I am not sure exactly when they stopped publishing it, but we can read all the issues published between October 1924 and April 1939 online (through the National Library of Korea). I think this is a brilliant source for papers for students!

The publication of this journal reflects the turning point of the colonial administration in the 1920s, when nationalists, socialists, communists, religious groups, and of course, Japanese colonizers increasingly intervened into rural societies across the peninsula. It was the 1914 reform that fixed the administrative units in the form that still remains almost unchanged today. In the 1920s, the smallest unit, ŭp (or yu 邑) and myŏn(or men 面), were fully working as the finest branch of the colonial bureaucracy — this means they became a part of the big record-producing machine. As I flipped through (or rather click through) the journal online, some of the cover images became more and more elaborate, as if they symbolize the increasing professionalism and the officials’ pride in it:

(September 1924 —— February-June 1926 *They liked the image of Lady Justice! —— May-July 1928 —— June-December 1929)

In each issue, there are usually a couple of articles that discuss big ideological issues, but the rest is quite technical. I like reading about technical issues. They often show us more reliable fragments of life in the countryside than ideological discussions. One series that I believe have a lot to dig and analyze is 『行政論壇』 and 『當路者の批判』. 『行政論壇』introduces a couple of opinion pieces, and 『當路者の批判』is responses from usually ten various local administrators to the suggestions made in the previous issue’s 『行政論壇』. In a nutshell, this was a forum for local administrators to exchange opinions. The following is the reason why I think someone should study this closely.

First of all, this is a good source to study politics of the gunsu (the head of gun or county). Most of the participants in this series are gunsu (occasionally officials in the do (province) and the myŏn as well). The gunsu was right in the middle in the hierarchy of local administrations. Some of them were a lot keener on situations on the ground than others, I am sure. But overall we can assume that they were a little detached from everyday conducts on the ground, and more well-educated on average than the head of myŏn. Based on what I read, many local (educated) youth admired the gunsu as they found the gunsu charismatic and intellectual. Their eager participation in this peninsula-wide forum might be a reflection of their ambivalent position in the hierarchy and their desire to participate in larger politics in the central stage.

Second of all, this is a good place to think about how the vibrant discussion in this forum affected the imperial rule. Take a look at this exemplary table of contents from the November 1932 issue:

As you can see, the topics of the『行政論壇』 & 『當路者の批判』are technical and specific. In this issue, the suggestions are: 1. Expand the regulations on myŏn taxes, land taxes, and value-added taxes. 2. Open a path to special civil service for myŏn officials. 3. Let the myŏn office manage a model farm as a farming training center for rural youth.

I think this specificity is the key in creating a vibrant discussion forum in this journal. The contributors sound confident, and they are not afraid of challenging each other. These frank exchanges of opinions about specific issues might have provided the support base for the authoritarian rule, paradoxically. It might give a sense of independent decision-making to local administrators even without democracy, as we see in today’s Chinese countryside.

Another potentially interesting reading of this series is to compare Korean and Japanese participants. I did not pay any attention to the ratio or the contents of their opinions when I was browsing. If there is no particular difference between them, that is still interesting (and you could go back to why the Korean gunsu was so eager to participate).

Finally, of course, you could delve into the details that they discuss in the journal. You can compare the information here and memoirs and diaries written by local intellectuals, for example.

Ok. Maybe I should just write up an article by myself…


Some Issues on Modern Education in Korea

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 11:37 am Print

Education is always an important issue in history, and I regret that I have read works on the history of Korea’s modern education only sporadically. As I try to organize my notes while reading both secondary and primary sources recently, I get confused about exactly what issues are on debate back then and now. I am hoping that other people will give me clearer thoughts on this. (I’m writing this off the top of my head so my apologies for not providing specific names of historians as much as I should.)

I realized there are two very common topics in the historiography. One is how we conceive traditional and private 서당 (書堂, sodang) vs public elementary schools (普通学校). It is a fact that, compared to Taiwan, the spread of elementary schools in Korea was very slow during the colonial period, and sodang continued to sprawl even in the 1930s. Traditionally, historians see this as the failure of Japanese education, and/or the flourish of strong ethnic-centered education among Koreans. Many of the city history volumes and local history articles (written in the 1980s-2000s) I read emphasize this point. So this is an indication of the “undying national identity” for them. Historians like 渡辺学 also use the numbers of those schools as evidence that the Japanese colonial government was not the main agency that provided modern education. The fact that the Japanese forced to shut down many night schools and private schools in fear of socialist activities helps their point on the antagonistic relationship between sodang and elementary schools.

On the other hand, more recent scholars like 板垣竜太 show complementary relationship between  sodang and elementary schools. Many Korean children studied in both schools, and many of the same local elites donated money and negotiated with the local office to establish a sodang and to upgrade it to an elementary school. Both 板垣竜太’s work on Sangju and 김영희’s work on a village in 충청남도 show that the government depended on those local elites in introducing modern education if not an elementary school itself, and these two parties were more cooperative in making sodang into a modern institution. I myself also was surprised to find that, in 1922 when their concern for socialist activism was heightening, 『全羅南道青年会指導方針』regarded sodang more ideal for training rural youth than elementary schools. I just realized that those historians who use the government’s sources emphasize the conflict between sodang and elementary schools, and those who study local cases see more cooperation between the two.

The other issue is the emphasis to 実業教育 (practical education or vocational training). I find this issue more confusing in the historiography. Many tend to consider practical education the emblem of modern education, and discuss that Korean enlightenment thinkers already emphasized the importance of it before the Japanese rule started. There is some ambiguity about how to judge the Japanese call for practical education in the 1920s, but starting the 1930s, historians usually find an excessive amount of 実習 (on-site practice), and an neglect of knowledge-based education. I know 実業教育 does not necessarily mean 実習, but 実習 was justified as an integral part of 実業教育. To my confusion, many historians (again, I’m sorry for not specifying who, but in general) cannot make up their mind regarding whether the overall emphasis on practical training should be celebrated (as always is when they discuss Korean enlightenment thinkers), or considered oppressive when implemented by the Japanese, given a long tradition of Confucius training of Korean intellectuals. Reading 『文教の朝鮮』 and 『朝鮮社会事業』, I find that even among the Japanese activists, emphases on 実業教育 and Confucius thoughts coexisted for a long time. I suspect that the issue at stake was more about class differences, rather than how “modern” it sounded or how “Korean” or “Japanese” practical education represented. By “class differences,” I mean more than just “the lower class appreciated 実業教育 more than the elite.” I read an article about a diary written by a relatively well-educated young guy in 1930, in Dongbok, Cholla Namdo. He owned his own land, which made him upper-middle class already, but he was always disappointed at his farming job and had to remind himself of the importance of 実業主義 over and over. In his case, the emphasis on practical education and hard labor was supposed to help him fill the gap between the dream of obtaining higher education and the reality in front of him.


The Use of Collective Responsibility

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 6:13 am Print

It is a famous fact that the Government-General in Taiwan adopted the baojia (保甲) system in 1898 in reaction to a series of attacks against the Japanese. It is a method of mutual policing at the village level for the purpose of maintaining local order and preventing tax evasion. Although GGT officials explained that it was a system that they were adopting from the old Chinese dynasties, it had already been a familiar style of policing for the Japanese too since Toyotomi Hideyoshi and others adopted it to police hidden Christians and so on.

I never encountered a mentioning of a similar system in the history of colonial police in Korea. For example, Matsuda Toshihiko’s recent publication, 日本の朝鮮植民地支配と警察 1905-1945 (Japan’s Colonial Rule of Korea and the Police. 2009), discusses how the police tried to propagate its authority to the masses (民衆化) and how they tried to co-opt local leaders into their networks (警察化). But it does not look like there was a rule or a law about mutual policing like the baojia (保甲) system.

It turned out that the collective responsibility system was used in tenant contracts between Japanese agricultural companies (landlords) and Korean peasants, instead. One example was the Chosen kōgyō gaisha, run by the Shibusawa zaibatsu family. A scholar Asada Kyōji describes how the Chosen kōgyō gaisha established the gonin gumi (5-person groups) system and used it as a basic unit of Korean tenant farmers. (Asada Kyōji. 日本帝国主義と旧植民地地主制. 1992. 161). Apparently this was a common custom among the Japanese landholders as the half-governmental Oriental Developmental Company also required five tenant farmers to register together. In Ham Hanhee’s oral interview with a farmer in Cholla Namdo, he said that the most difficult part in getting a contract with the ODC is that “he needed four sponsors who were willing to take on a collective liability for his wrongdoings.” (Hahm Hanhee, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University 1990. 82)

I wonder if the difference in where this collective liability system belonged somehow reflects the difference in the nature of rule in Taiwan and Korea… just a thought. Another thought is that, if it is possible that the infamous tonarigumi system in Japan during WWII was a product of the experiences of organizing local units in the Japanese colonies… maybe?


Thinking about the Japanese woman in Korean-Japanese (内鮮一体) couples

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 7:39 am Print

When I was preparing for my oral exams last semester, the professors who do not work on East Asia (I had a European historian and a Latin American historian in my committee) were always fascinated by the nature of “inter-racial marriage” in the Japanese empire. Both in the history of childhood and youth and the history of modern empire, the most complex and flexible interpretations of “race” happened on the ground where colonial societies had no choice but face the existence of inter-racial sexuality and mixed children. In the Japanese empire, inter-racial marriage was not problematized in the same way as it was in European empires. For example, in two articles of roundtable discussion on marriage (結婚改善座談会) published in Korean Social Work (朝鮮社会事業 – yes I still love this journal) in May and June 1935, the participants, mostly Japanese bureaucrats and educators in Seoul, never discuss problems of inter-marriage. The central problem was rather an increasing number of old single women in Korea. Their presentation of statistics of the marriage success rate among graduates of the elementary school bears much resemblance to today’s discussion of unemployment rates. They agree this is a problem that “kyoka dantai (moral suasion groups)” should become involved in. Another major issue brought up during this roundtable is, of course, the ways in which people conduct wedding ceremonies. For the participants, excessively luxurious wedding ceremonies often exhaust village economies. The venue of wedding ceremonies was also discussed — e.g. whether it was appropriate to imitate Taisho Emperor and to use the Chōsen Shrine for ordinary people’s wedding.

The lack of discussion on inter-racial marriage by contemporary experts is not the only interesting feature to note. “It is an open secret among Korean scholars,” one professor of modern Korean history said to me the other day, “that there were a significant number of married couples between Korean men and Japanese women but there is so little study on it.” This is another surprise to non-East Asian historians. In other places it is men from the colonizing countries and women from colonized societies that married, and this feminization of colonies is often regarded as an aspect of Orientalism. There were, of course, married couples between Korean women and Japanese men, but as Oguma Eiji has already pointed out, the Government-General in Korea encouraged Japanese women to marry Korean men because, they thought, Japanese mothers were supposed to build the foundations of Japanese culture in the home.

How do you define “coloniality” in this relationship represented by couples of Korean men and Japanese women? To offer my half-baked thought first, we really need to re-think how the ‘Japanese woman’ was interpreted in relation to modernity. I cannot easily connect this to the discussion of coloniality — or assure that it is a useful concept here.

One chapter in Nam Pujin (南富鎭)’s book 文学の植民地主義 (Colonialism in Literature) deals with the issue of colonialism in love and marriage affairs. He introduces a number of Korean writers who wrote stories in which a Korean man dreamed of marrying a Japanese woman, a Korean couple who pretended as if they had been a Korean-Japanese couple, a Japanese woman who marries a Korean man, and mixed children who grew up hating their Korean origins owing to the social discriminations they received, and so on. Nam recognizes some “coloniality” in that it is usually Koreans who have to “confess” their origin, and will come to be “understood” by their Japanese partners even in recent love stories. His discussion of the novels from the 20s and 30s is more thought-provoking. Nam points out that “Naisen kekkon (Korean-Japanese marriage) was consistently the most trendy topic for literature, and despite its political nature, it was the most popular fantasy and hope to overcome obstacles that the state and ethnicity impose on one’s love and marriage” (27). We cannot say that Naisen kekkon was as prevalent among Korean masses as Korean writers and intellectuals experienced, but it seems to me that discussion of such marriages could appear fresh and even rebellious in a way that was not necessarily directed against the Japanese colonial government, but against older generations or elite Korean families.

Nam Pujin also presents a convincing argument that Japanese women represented ‘modernity’ in the eyes of Korean masses. This itself is an interesting and anomalous case from a comparative perspective. But at the same time, the story is not simply a reverse sexual representation of imperial modernity. Japanese women represented much more than that. What caught my attention was Nam’s description of a novel called 処女の倫理 (Ethics of the Virgin) written by a well-known Korean writer Chang Hyakchu 張 赫宙 in 1939. In this novel, an independent-minded Japanese woman fell in love with and married a Korean man, but was betrayed by him because he had an official Korean wife, and was discriminated against within Korean society. According to Nam, “double marriage” was quite common since many Korean intellectuals either abandoned or ignored their official wives whom they were forced to marry at younger age, and had love affairs with Japanese women. However strongly Korean men desired a Japanese woman as if it would symbolize an achievement of modernity, this particular novel depicted very unstable power relationships that could be caused as a consequence of such a phenomenon.

There is another piece of evidence on the complexity of the issue that I found in the roundtable article mentioned above. Mōri (a commissioner to the Government-General in Korea) says, “Ladies who were raised in Korea face difficulty in finding a marriage partner.” It soon becomes clear that he is referring to Japanese women who grew up in Korea. The first reason he gives is “women who grew up in Korea are too used to luxury and cannot even sew a Kimono. Those who grew up in Japanese (naichi) rural areas are pretty good at this.” According to Mōri, Japanese men preferred naichi women who were not as “modernized” as those who grew up in Korea. It makes sense that Japanese officials and business people who were dispatched to Korea received extra salaries and benefits, and their children regarded themselves as upper-class in comparison to both the average Japanese and Korean families. Does this mean what “the real Japanese woman” represented differed significantly for Korean writers and for Japanese men?

Given the resulting mess, I cannot pin down who colonized whom or even how we could know of it in this issue of Korean-Japanese marriage.


AAS 2010 Blogging: Annexation Centennial

Final exams crash onto my desk tomorrow, but I’m as organized as I can be in advance, so I thought I’d do a little belated AAS blogging, especially about the pair of panels on Saturday commemorating the centennial of Japan’s annexation of Korea and the 50th anniversary of Hilary Conroy’s groundbreaking study of same.


Non-Orientalizing Colonial Ethnography

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 11:32 pm Print

I am re-visiting reprints of a journal called Korean Social Work (『朝鮮社会事業』), which colonial bureaucrats and social reformers in Korea published nearly every month between 1923 and 1944. The articles were written mostly in Japanese, and many of the authors (both Korean and Japanese) expressed, just like the social bureaucrats in the Home Ministry in the metropole, a combination of reform-minded, progressive ideas and a colonizer’s mindset that could be characterized as a ‘civilizing mission.’

I would like to introduce here an article that I encountered in vol. 5 no. 10 October 1926 issue entitled “Sociology of Korea That Appears in Folklore”(「民間伝承に現はれた朝鮮の社会相」). The author used an alias of 青丘同人, under which he introduced a Korean folk story in almost every issue around these years. In this particular issue, however, he gave a more detailed analysis of the characteristics of Korean folklore. I cannot tell if he was ethnically Korean or Japanese (although he calls Japan “our country”), but he was obviously a very dedicated ethnographer of Korea, was trained in Western theories, and operated professionally in the Japanese language.

The first thing that one notices in his article is a heavy emphasis on ordinary people’s history. The author criticized the official historical records for being too aristocracy-centered, and argued that in order to understand Korean society we need to turn to folklore — “the shapeless art of the languages of the masses.” Considering that folk studies were growing in Japan and everywhere else in the world, this itself is not quite unique. In fact, this global ethnographical turn in the 1920s led to a big wave of Orientalist colonial knowledge in most of the empires. We are also familiar with many accounts of Japanese ethnographers Orientalizing the colonial Other.

The rest of this article, however, turned out to be a lot different from the “Other”-ing that I expected to find. His analysis develops rather in an unexpected direction. One unusual aspect of his article is that he uses Marxist class struggle to analyze Korean sayings and popular jokes. Many of the social reform bureaucrats who were publishing this journal were overtly anti-Marxists, and they regarded social work as a necessity to prevent the spread of Marxism and Communism. Despite that, 青丘同人 fearlessly demonstrates “social revolutionary elements” hidden in Korean sayings. According to him, “the origin of social revolutions is embedded in the moment where ordinary people’s social conditions have totally changed and the old system no longer works. It must be clear that when ordinary people’s knowledge recognizes the ignorance of the ruler, they resort to action.” Popular jokes and sayings capture this exact moment. For example, the following joke shows how ordinary people mocked the way in which the privileged class would collapse from within:

A younger brother said, “No matter how arrogantly you behave, I am superior to you when it comes to our social statuses.” His older brother asked, “Why?” He answered, “Because when you were born, our father was just an ordinary official, but when I was born, he was already an emperor-appointed one.”

青丘同人 gives a number of examples in which ordinary people ridiculed the incompetence of the ruler and the old aristocratic system. He argues, “… people in Korea who did not prefer overt conflicts [with upper classes] turned to the mocking (笑殺) to comfort themselves. The only way of revenge for the weak was to passively laugh out the despotic behaviors of the stronger.” Doesn’t this line of argument sound familiar to us?

Another unique part is his attempt to deconstruct the stereotypes of the status of women in traditional Korea. He challenges the stereotypical understanding that Korean women had been oppressed by men, locked in the home and deprived of any freedom. He first explains that the structure of the inner house (内房) where women mainly stayed was so complicated because men needed to protect women from outsiders in the face of foreign invasions. What is interesting is that he quickly dismisses the importance of this original reason, and points out that this system of locking up women in the house lasted only because it worked for women too (“it was based on love”), and because women reigned over their own kingdoms in their inner houses. “Otherwise women would not stay inside more than three days.” 青丘同人 also disputes the alleged wickedness of the custom in which women were forced to wash clothes all day everyday so that they would not have energy or time for adultery. He regards washing clothes as more about providing appropriate exercise for women. “Compared to bodily disciplining like chastity belts in the West, foot-binding in China, and blackening teeth in Japan,” chastity control in Korea in the inner house was far more aesthetic (趣きのある).

The issue I want to raise is not about whether we agree or disagree with his analysis. As far as I can tell, he was an ethnographer who did not try to Orientalize Korea. In fact, many of the points he made are a precursor to what scholars in the 1980s and 90s (i.e. supposedly the Said-ian self-reflective age) attempted to argue. I always found it sad that, whenever we discuss colonial ethnographers, we inevitably find Orientalizing, Other-ing operations. I think this article by 青丘同人, someone I do not know who really was, is giving us an opportunity to think about ethnography as a more diverse field than we usually think.

UPDATE: I just found 青丘同人’s real name in volume 5 no.7. It is 清水兵三 (he started to use  “青丘 清水兵三”) . I might be able to track him down, now!


Electricity, Infrastucture: “Reconstruction”

Filed under: — John P. DiMoia @ 9:02 pm Print

Pacific Bechtel constructs thermal plant in Masan, mid-1950s, USIS image.
This image comes from a USIS publcity shot taken at Masan in the mid-  1950′s, detailing the work of electrical restoration undertaken prior to,  during, and in the aftermath of the Korean War.   A couple of quick  observations:

(1) The man responsible for putting together a pre-war group (with ECA  funding) looking into the problem, Walker L. Cisler, had also helped  restore the electrical grids of various European nations in conjunction  with the Marshall Plan.  With his connections to Eisenhower, Cisler would pop up again in the mid-1950′s (Summer 1956), this time trying to market the Fermi breeder reactor to South Korea.

(2) The electrical capacity of the South after the “cut-off” of May 1948 by the North was extremely low, as the mid-1950′s restoration work undertaken by Pacific Bechtel allegedly doubled the ROK’s capacity.

(3) The persistence of older models would continue in state  planning well into the late 1950′s, with both hydroelectric (along the Han) and tidal plants investigated as possible options, before settling on primarily thermal plants in the mid and late 1950′s.

All of this goes towards a simple point, that the disentanglement of infrastructure between North and South, a complicated issue in the 1945-1948 period, would continue into the post-war era.  The South would not resolve its electricity shortages until the 1970′s with the availability of commerical electricity from the first nuclear plant.

I would love to know more about the South in terms of the necessary engineering expertise to run this kind of plant (above), and as for the northern case, Aaron S. Moore (ASU) is currently working on Japanese engineers in Manchuria and the North, looking at how they re-invent themselves as development specialists after 1945.

I recongize that none of this pertains directly to the previous two posts, but I think the passing of Kim DaeJung and the North’s presence at his funeral fits with this brief look at the electrical issue, thereby anticipating the nuclear issue.


Japanese Publications on Colonial Bureaucracy

Filed under: — Sayaka Chatani @ 11:13 pm Print

I would like to introduce two recent publications on colonial bureaucrats here. One is Okamoto Makiko, Shokuminchi kanryô no seijishi (岡本真希子『植民地官僚の政治史:朝鮮・台湾総督府と帝国日本』, Politics of Colonial Bureaucrats)Sangensha, 2008, and the other is Ôtomo Masako, Teikoku Nihon no shokuminchi shakai jigyô seisaku kenkyû (大友昌子『帝国日本の植民地社会事業政策研究』, A Study of Colonial Social Work Policies of Imperial Japan)Minerva, 2007. Their works are both impressive in the scope of research and their ability to compare the nitty-gritty of colonial rule in Taiwan and Korea. From research of Sheldon Garon and many others, Japan’s historians all learned that government officials, especially those in the famous Home Ministry played a huge role in promoting social reforms and modernization and that their power permeated many aspects of people’s everyday life. There is no reason to believe that it was very different in the colonies. Despite the reasonable guess about the role of colonial bureaucrats, we did not have a good grasp of basic facts about them until these publications came out.

There is so much information in Okamoto’s thick volume and I would highly recommend that anyone who studies anything about colonial Korea/Taiwan use this as a reference book. Okamoto did an excellent job in departing from the concentration, in previous scholarship, on personal networks (“who knew whom” etc.) and focused instead on the system, laws, and principles that regulated the flows of people. I learned so much about the differences of status between the Government-General in Korea and the Government-General in Taiwan — e.g. By 1919 when the Cultural Policy was implemented, there was a wide consensus among Japanese politicians on the fact that the GGK had already established a semi-independent status unlike the GGT and the other colonies. The GGK and the GGT also diverged in the recruitment of local populations into the colonial bureaucracy. While the number of Korean officials increased, that of Taiwanese officials remained extremely low. Okamoto also elaborates upon how the GGK operated (or at least tried to operate) independently from the Japanese home government in many different ways. Her elaboration on how the quickly changing political climates in Japan influenced the top personnel in the GGK and GGT, changing the relationships between the Japanese government and colonial bureaucracy, is also impressive.  We still have a long way to go in dissecting the work of colonial bureaucracies. But with her work, we can finally refer to the Government-General with more pluristic terms — as a group of people, rather than one monster-like control machine.

Ôtomo’s work on colonial social work probably enjoys a little more limited audience. Her empiricism is striking and it is quite refreshing to read details of social welfare laws and programs without once mentioning Foucauldian governmentality. Her main argument is to show how the colonial officials tried to regulate modernization in the colonies (「抑制された近代化」). That itself is not eye-opening but what interested me was how similar the social work techniques were between the colonies and Japan — the use of “方面委員 (district commissioner)” programs, the emphasis on moral suasion (教化)and local improvement, for example. Ôtomo tries to define “modernization” in a scientifically measurable way (the “levels” of labor policy, poverty, economic security etc), but her work more interestingly demonstrates how colonial officials defined “the direction” of modernization.


Dokdo is Korean for “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 8:57 pm Print

Apparently inspired by the success of other international publicity campaigns around disputed lands — Tibetan independence, Pakistani claims to Kashmir, the Golan Heights, etc. — some Korean business owners in New York are trying to raise the profile of the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute by publicizing it in English on dry cleaning bags.

This is part of a larger push to broaden Korean diaspora engagement with the homeland and leverage overseas success into diplomatic weight. This includes trying to instill a sense of the importance of the Dokdo issue — as Koreans see it — into second and third generation Korean Americans. I’m not sure what the benefit is to tying Korean American identity to a post-colonial maritime resource dispute instead of … well, almost anything from the panoply of Korean history and culture seems like it would be more likely to succeed in the long term and have greater benefits.

Speaking of generations, the North-South separation has had linguistic consequences over the years. Most of the examples given seem to be in the political realm, terms which have taken on specific meanings within the Kim-cult/juche system. After decades of living in a more or less permanent state of political terror, I would imagine that most North Koreans would be very careful, precise with their language. The culture shock for individual defectors is already pretty severe; the culture shock of reunification in Germany was substantial, though the political system in East Germany was never as thoroughly totalitarian, information was never as tightly controlled.


Cholera: Disease, Nation, and Identity?

Filed under: — John P. DiMoia @ 11:05 pm Print

I’ve been looking at disease patterns in the early stages of the USAMGIK occupation, focusing on the cholera outbreak of spring and summer 1946, covering roughly April to September of that year, and peaking with the summer rains in June and July. I’m still not certain that a single disease identity is the correct frame, as there was some question of translation in the Japanese context–this according to Crawford Sams, with GHQ PHW (Public Health and Welfare)–and a number of competing disease entities as well, typhus primary among these.

In any case, leaving the question of identifying a disease entity aside for the moment, the patterns of quarantine and policing established by both USAMGIK and GHQ contain numerous interesting overlaps with previous policy. For one, the movement of repatriated ethnic Koreans back to Japan for a variety of reasons in 1946 and 1947–family property left behind, seeking to return to work in Japan, allegations of black market activity–meant that this group, along with Taiwanese, rapidly became identified with the disease itself in the Japanese press. There’s already a good bit of scholarship on this point–e.g., both Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Christopher Aldous have published on migration controls and disease policy (typhus) in Japan–indicating that the outbreak of cholera tended to reinforce existing prejudices and beliefs about ethnic Koreans.

Within Korea, the disease created the conditions for a mobilization based upon the introduction of “Western” medicine to a greater extent than had previously existed. That is, food controls, restrictions of the use of “night soil,” controls over sources of potable water, survey of animal populations, and even restrictions regarding large public gatherings (including funerals) were all among the practices put into effect to try to limit the spread of cholera, generally passed along by contaminated food or water sources. I have yet to find any local medical records (still working largely from USAMGIK bulletins here and Korean newspaper accounts), but it’s fair to speculate that this general policy felt a lot like Japanese policy regarding public health for much of the 1920′s and 1930′s. And the use of “local area doctors” (USAMGIK’s term for certain groups of TKM practitioners, although again, the translation issue is not always clear) meant that practitioners of traditional Korean medicine were enrolled as a last line of defense in terms of reporting the spread of disease. As both Park YunJae (Yonsei) and Shin Dong-Won (KAIST) have written about the reliance upon traditional practitioners fifteen to twenty years earlier, there’s considerable room here for speculation about how these new policies were received.

Finally, the disease did not respect boundaries, and two further problems added to the complex situation. One, the movement of Japanese forces and ethnic Koreans, primarily from North (Manchuria) to South (the DMZ, with some destined for Pusan) across the border rendered the migrations controls ineffectual. This was also the case for Southern Japan, where individuals could cross by boat into Japan unorbserved. Two, the lack of reliable information and communication with the Russians / Northern representatives only exacerbated the situation.
I still don’t know exactly what to do with this information collectively, except to note that it has a lot to do with the “national style”–itself a problematic label–that South Korea would later adopt with respect to medical practice, and to recognixe that the polciing aspect of public health definitely continued beyond the colonial period into the occupation and the subsequent formation of new states.

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