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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181





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Summer 2000 ASCJ Conference Details

Redefining Korean Histories & Identities: Academic, Literary and Media Considerations

Organizer: Elise E. Foxworth, The University of Melbourne/Institute for International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University

 This panel presents three papers that scrutinize narratives of pre and postwar Korean and zainichi Korean history and identities. Mark Caprio's paper focuses on the appropriation and exploitation of the 'image' of the Korean woman by both colonialist and nationalist interest groups. Korean women, supposedly 'liberated' but confined to the domestic realm, faced contradictory expectations dictated by differing ideologies of these male dominated groups. Caprio's discussion of the 'enculturation' of the Korean woman by these groups serves as a significant example of ideology at work during the colonial period. Kristine Dennehy's paper highlights the ideological agenda of post war scholarship on Japanese colonialism in Korea. Her analysis of various historical accounts of Korean struggles for independence, written in the early postwar years, is noteworthy because it sheds light on the complexities of the intellectual environment within which such accounts were produced. Her approach thus provides insights into the theoretical debates between Zainichi Korean and Japanese intellectuals concerning issues of historiography, postwar social reforms and reconciliation following Korea's liberation from Japanese imperial rule.  The third and final paper, presented by Elise Foxworth, analyzes author Kim Sok Pong's 1957 novel, Karasu no Shi, which dramatically evokes the painful circumstances and unbearable choices imposed on Saishuto inhabitants, by American imperialism, in post war Korea. The emergence of Karasu no Shi is coterminous with the rise of scholarship on colonialism that Caprio and Dennehy examine. As fiction Karasu no Shi generates a single narrative 'truth' which can be experienced, by the reader, as a realistic representation of historical events making a critique of Karasu no Shi an appropriate follow up to the preceding papers. 

1) Mark Caprio,  Rikkyo University: "The 'New Korean Woman': Japanese and Korean Images of Liberation"

 This paper will consider various images presented in colonial Korea of the liberated Korean woman as put forth in newspapers, journals, and other media during the 1920s. One of the interesting developments resulting from the Japanese subjugation of the Korean peninsula was its occurrence in tandem with the liberation movement of the Korean woman.  Japanese intellectuals of the 1880s often criticized Korean treatment of its women, an issue that the Korean reformer regularly included in demands made to the Korean government. Following annexation, this semi-liberated woman played a pivotal role in the demonstrations for independence in 1919 as well as the ensuing cultural nationalist movement of the early 1920s. She emerged into Korean society to face both encouragement and arrest by the Japanese, and praise and criticism from the Korean.  

This complex situation produced a crisscross of metaphors regarding the images drawn by Koreans and Japanese of this woman. Both Japanese and Korean saw the hitherto enslaved Korean women as an embodiment of the "dark" Choson period. The two peoples saw her liberation in her enculturation. The former imagined this enculturation as an essential ingredient of the "culture policy" he was attempting to disseminate to the Korean people; the latter saw the "new Korean women" as symbolic of the "new Korea" he envisioned being forged following Korea's liberation from colonial rule. Both Korean and Japanese placed this enculturated woman, though, at the foundation of their  respective new societies through her role in the home as educator of children.

2) Kristine Dennehy, The University of California, Los Angeles: "Postwar Resident Korean Historical Narratives"

 The construction of a historical narrative of Japan's colonization of Korea was a central element in the process of defining the position and identity of Korean residents in Japan (hereafter referred to as zainichi Koreans) after liberation from imperial rule in 1945. In this paper, I will examine a range of Japanese-language academic essays and books dealing with modern Korean history written by zainichi Korean intellectuals from the late 1940's to the mid-1960's. Figures such as Pak Kyong-sik produced a number of studies which critiqued the distortions of the Emperor-centered view of history, and  simultaneously redefined the history of colonial Korea as a period of revolutionary struggle and internal development.  These texts must be analyzed in light of the highly politicized context in which they were written, a time when the postwar reunification and stability of the Korean peninsula was a priority for Koreans still living in Japan. These historical accounts were meant to inspire zainichi Koreans to carry on a legacy of resistance against imperialistic hegemony (prewar Japan, postwar US). Finally, these works must be read in the context of the broader realm of early postwar Japanese historiography, dominated as it was by Marxist-oriented "scientific" studies. While there is evidence of solidarity with progressive Japanese scholars, zainichi Koreans strove to maintain a distinct identity and explicitly presented their histories as coming from the point of view of the Korean people (minzoku).

3) Elise E. Foxworth, The University of Melbourne/Institute for International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University: "Kim Sok Pong's Karasu no Shi: History, Identity and Subjectivity"

What can a spy story set in 1949 after the Yon San Massacre in Saishuto, Korea, tell us about the zainichi Korean Diaspora in Japan? Japan based Korean writer Kim Sok Pong's seminal 1957 novel, Karasu no Shi (The Death of the Crow) invites the reader to conceptualize the 'zainichi identity' of his characters while disallowing generalizations. Karasu no Shi calls into question the subjectivity of the individual caught between two worlds, the ruptures that inevitably attend such an existence and scrutinizes the possibilities of self-acceptance and survival. This paper will examine the interplay between fiction, history and the present as manifest in Karasu no Shi demonstrating the power of the novel in combating ignorance and prejudice. In this paper I will examine Kim's 'backward logic', the symbolism of 'the death of the crow' and the imaginative and ideological forces that impelled Kim Sok Pong to write Karasu no Shi. While fiction is not history in the usual sense of the word, it can offer new perspectives on the past. Karasu no Shi serves as an excellent example of a postcolonial literature of 'renascence' that provocatively interrogates the past and courageously endorses the process of adaptation and survival in pre and postwar Korea and postcolonial Japan.

Discussant: Barbara Brooks, City College, City University of New York

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