우물 안 개구리

5/18/2012

Diaspora And Diplomatic Communities Memorialize Conflict

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:47 pm Print

A memorial plaque was dedicated in a park in Palisades Park, New Jersey in 2010 which reads

In Memory
of the more than 200,000
women and girls who were
abducted by the armed forces of
the government of Imperial Japan
1930′s-1945
known as “comfort women,”
they endured human rights
violations that no peoples should
leave unrecognized.
Let us never forget the horrors
of crimes against humanity.

Two things struck me about this article from the NY Times. The first is in the headline: “New Jersey Town’s Korean Monument Irritates Japanese Officials.” There have apparently been two official attempts to convince Palisades Park to remove the monument, presenting two very different approaches. The first emphasized Japan’s past apologies and attempts to stage reparations as justification for de-emphasizing the sexual servitude issue:
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1/14/2012

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…

8/7/2011

Politics of Health / Medicine, post 1945

I’ve been thinking again about the broader issue of beginning to approach the South Korean post-colonial state and post-1945 medicine, recognizing the immense problems that this presents.

Even leaving aside lengthy traditons of shamans and religious healers of varying persuasions, if we restrict medicine to two loose clusters–한의학 and biomedicine–then minimally this leaves us with the need to consider at least some of the following:

a) W. Medicine as brought / conveyed by misssionaries;

b) German academic medicine / biosciences of the mid to late 19th century (esp. maybe Virchow?);

c) German academic tradition as conveyed through colonial Japanese medicine, public health, and parasitology (Meiji, Taisho, and Showa);

d) USAMGIK / 미군정 (especially the CATS lectures prepared by Winslow); also here–pre-Korean War visits by Rockefeller in the form of prominent American demographers / social scientists–among them Taeuber, Notestein, Balfour;

e) military medicine and psychiatry (here meaning the ROKA and its own internal public health practice, starts even prior to independence, allegedly);

f) Korean War era aid / efforts–UNKRA, WHO report, NORMASH, MASH, Jutlandia, etc.;

g) post Korean-War medical relief / aid projects / technical assistance: e.g., Minnesota Project, Scandinavian Teaching Hospital, CMB, AKF, KAVA, etc.;

h) Public health efforts tailored to specific endemic diseases;

i) Public health mobilizations of the Park period (FP, KAHP), including assistance from Japan’s OTCA, SIDA, and various university demography centers;

j) Vietnam War and once again ROKA military medicine (esp. 열대의학);

k) The incremental growth / provision of national health insurance (1963-1989).

This is only a partial list, but and within this diversity I have two basic generalizations:

1) Lots of continuity / overlap with previous forms of Japanese practice, especially in public health terms, that is, the large-scale mobilizations of 1960′s and 1970′s (FP, Anti-Parasite eradication).

2) Immense effort to link personal health to national welfare as related themes, especially with international aid in post-Korean War period, but even into the 70′s and 80′s.

More on this later, and for now, just recognizing the immense complexity of one little slice of time on these issues. I don’t work on the colonial period, but I suspect it’s equally complicated on issues of medicine / health, far more complicated than some would have it.

3/17/2011

Nuclear Power in Korea / Domestic and International

Filed under: — John P. DiMoia @ 9:29 pm Print

Just a quick note, even as the Japan situation continues to unfold, to recall that (1) the current ROK government wants to prioritize nuclear exports in the coming years; and that (2) the domestic industry provides a significant portion of the nation’s energy (28 plants either in operation or under construction).

At this point, it would be unfair to make any sweeping generalizations or loose analogies with the Fukushima site, but it is not unfair to recognize similar types of actors (General Electric) and contractors dating to the late 1970′s, in roughly the same part of the world, and to ask some hard questions about those plants and their lifespans.

More on this later, but I have been surprised (although I suppose I should not be) about the press coverage from Japan, much of which has focused on TEPCO, and very little of it looking at the reactor origins and hardware.

9/19/2010

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?

5/12/2010

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.
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4/3/2010

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!

2/15/2010

Generating Power–Electric, hydroelectric, thermal (coal), atomic

I’m back once again to this question of electricity and power in its various forms, as I think the long-term story of generating power in NE Asia (1880′s-present), and specifically on the Korean peninsula, sheds some interesting light on the transnational history of the contested region, this in distinct contrast to the individual national histories of power industries.  I would love to be able to link: (1)  electrification (late 19th century), to (2) the colonial period (especially the hydroelectric power plants in the North along the Yalu and Tumen), to (3) the electrical showdown / cutoff of May 1948 (North stops providing access following UN elections), to (4) the period of the war and reconstruction (temporary barges, and later thermal stations), to the (5) decision to pursue atomic power (late 1950′s, with a commercial industry by the late 1970′s).  For now, though, I’ll just briefly touch on the Bechtel project associated with the mid-1950′s, which covers #4.

I recently managed to get a copy of the Bechtel in-house report on the project, with three major thermal stations, completed between 1954 -1956, at Tangin-Ri, Samchok, and Masan (which was the image from my last post in August).

This map shows that the effort was an attempt to plug into the existing grid at various points in the country (roughly comprising a triangulation) in 1954.  What I don’t know, and would love to know, is how much of this grid predates 1948, as I suspect much of it does.

And below  is a letter of thanks from the Korean side, following completion of the project, although I have not had a chance to look this document over.

For now, this consists of little more than musing on the topic, but in the aftermath of the Recent awarding of the reactor project for the UAE (Korea and Hyundai won the bid as part of a consortium),  and Lee Myung-Bak’s mobilization of the ROK domestic nuclear industry, I really want to put together something more substantive: that is, to take a long look at the history of power from the standpoint of a thorough transnational history (involving the U.S , Korea, Japan, Canada, at the very least).  More on this later~

2/2/2010

Things I don’t know about Korea, part 1 of many

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:38 pm Print

Now that I’m teaching my Korean History course I am, of course, running into questions I cannot answer. I’m going to post them here periodically:

  • Though the Choson-era Korean Army (in its various commanderies and provincial forms) was conscripted from peasantry (and officered, it appears, by military Yangban), where did the Navy get its personnel? You can’t just conscript a peasant and put him on a ship and expect him to be useful: did they recruit from fishing communities, or was there a training process?
  • What’s the numerical breakdown of Choson society? I’ve seen suggestions that as much as 20-30% were in the unfree categories at the bottom of the social scale, but I can’t seem to get a handle on the Yangban and Chungnin classes, either in total population or (as one of my students asked) rate of shedding members to lower classes.
  • Who was the aged, deeply bearded gentleman depicted on the Japanese colonial-era Korean bills? (See below)

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8/24/2009

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.

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