Thursday, March 02, 2006

Memories of Japanese rule----Korea

Here is an old Korea gentleman who experienced the cononial period said on TV.

Narator : Li Sang Man (90) was a firefighter. He didn't want to get drafted and passed an exam to be firefighter.

Li : I never imagined that Japan would be defeated. I was so staggered that I couldn't think of what would happen next. Never did I think that Japan would lose. (He is speaking Japanese.)I am the Japanese rightist

Now the blogger is the rightist , so you might think he is biased.Let's look at the book called "under the black umbrella" The author interviewed Korean people who directly experienced the Japanese rule.This is a review of the book.

Hildi Kang developed the idea to write Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea while listening to her Korean father-in-law tell stories of his experiences during the period of Japanese occupation. Missing from these memories were the accounts of Japanese atrocities preserved in the "passionate stories of martyrs" that she had come to expect. In conducting the research that culminated into her book, Kang came to realize that "under the shade cast by the Japanese presence, some people, some of the time, led close to normal lives" (p. 21).

We can expect that the majority of the people residing on the Korean peninsula during the Japanese occupation would identify with the response that Kang commonly heard when she asked her informants to talk about their experiences: "nothing much happened to me." Indeed, she had to discard a number of her interviews because the informant apparently had nothing extraordinary to relate.

Those who felt their stories worth preserving, though, offered experiences from both extremes: some endured terrible hardships and repression at the hands of the Japanese resident in Korea while others remember this encounter in more positive terms. Watching a Japanese inspector force a farmer to eat the worms that inhabited his grass roof left Chông T'ae'ik with a bitter impression of the colonizers (p. 104). The help and advice that Hong Ûlsu received from his yakuza (Japanese gangster) boss encouraged the businessman through to his graduation from Tokyo's Aoyama University in 1932 (pp. 31-2). It was not always the Japanese who left them their most bitter memories. Yi Hajôn, for example, complained that it was the Korean prison staff members who tortured him (p. 91). Clever Koreans, reported Hong Ûlsu, participated in robbing their fellow countrymen of their land, as well (pp. 12-3).

Many remember their participation (in Japanese institutions) as stimulated by a desire for personal gain; others felt compelled to cooperate. Kim P. (anonymous) reported that she used her father's employment and connections to secure entrance into a better (predominately Japanese expatriate) school. Kang Pyôngju remembered the Japanese "child-catchers" patrolling neighborhoods to "round up children and force them to attend primary school," although education was voluntary at the time (p. 51). His attendance in a Japanese-administered school was decided after his Korean teacher was shot in the leg during the March First Movement. His father, a doctor, had to formally enroll his son in school before he was allowed to administer aid to the injured man (p. 52).Nor were Korean visits to Japanese Shinto shrines always undertaken to demonstrate acceptance of Japanese assimilation policies. Informants remember these visits for reasons other than their respect for Japanese deities. Yi Okpum recalls the visits as necessary for survival: the shrine served as the distribution center for food ration tickets (p. 113). Yi Okhyôn, and other Koreans on Japanese police black lists, took part in Shinto ceremonies to avoid endangering their already fragile existence (p. 114). Ch'u Pongye recalls the beautiful view from the shrine site that overlooked the city of Pusan as ideal for her picnics (p. 114).

Ch'oe P'anbang felt discrimination in his job at the Ministry of Communication: the Japanese got stipends for "hardship assistance" and housing that augmented their already inflated salaries; Koreans were assigned the less popular graveyard shift more frequently than their Japanese counterparts; and the Japanese promoted their kind more readily than the Korean worker (p. 70). Yang Sôngdôk complained that the Japanese received permits to open stores quicker than the Korean merchants did. This advantage placed them in a better position to eliminate any future Korean competition (p. 70). Korean students attending colleges, reports Kang Pyôngju, faced (and insisted on preserving) segregation in all aspects of their lives, from their out-of-school activities to their living arrangements: they did not mix in student committees and resided in dorms segregated by building. Opposition to attempts to mix the two peoples forced plans for integrated rooms to be downgraded to integrated dorms segregated by hall (pp. 53-54)

A number of informants, however, do not recall this time as laden with anti-Korean discrimination. Kim Wôngôk, who worked alongside Japanese on an opium farm, felt that he received equal pay, promotions, and treatment (p. 67) and that he enjoyed a similar experience after being transferred to another job in a different city during the war. His boss, Kim recalls, "looked like a typical Japanese. But he did not talk or act typical," for he criticized his country's "narrow island mentality," likening the Japanese to a "little frog in a little pond." Even more strikingly, Kang Pyôngju was so respected in his village that even the local Japanese police chief would bow to him whenever they passed on the street (p. 59).

The two peoples, united by a shared fate, at times found affinity in their desire to lead a normal life rather than hostility over ethnic differences. One such experience is reported by Kang Sang'uk who recalls exchanging comic books, attending birthday parties, and playing marbles with his Japanese neighbors. He even joined his Japanese friends in poking fun at the Emperor's speeches, although not in public (p. 116). Even people hounded by the Japanese secret police managed to develop a humane relationship with their pursuers. Yu Hyegyông's family fed the detective assigned to watch over her father and eventually they all became good friends. After all, she recalls, "we were all humans" (p. 108).Reviewed by Mark Caprio

On the whole, I think Japanese and Koreans were getting along well in those days.
It is some other people who want to demonize Japanese.
"I last saw sumo here in 1942," said Lee Byoeng-chon, who like many Koreans of his generation was educated in Japanese.

"I've overcome my hard feelings towards Japan. It's often the younger people who are more hostile. They've been fed only the worst stories about the colonial period but they don't know the reality the way we do."

Mrs Kwak Mi-jung in her 40s came with her family. Like many Koreans, she knows little about sumo.

"It's not that I have positive feelings about Japan but I was very curious. This is the first big event since the ban on Japanese culture was lifted. I think we should know more about each other - only then will relations improve."link

Probably both Japanese and Koreans had hard times in those days.But somehow lives went on with or without Japanese rule for most of people.
((see also taiwantaiwan)

崔 基鎬, an old Korean historian, in his book
complains that young historians do not believe what he directly experienced under Japanese rule.He said that Japan's rule was not as harsh as young people imagined, in
fact, it saved Korea.Another Korean professor also points out that Korean collective memory is a fiction and an product of education.[1]
I guess younger generations are interpreting history in a creative ways. that is not bad,But what for?

Update:Korean girls and Japanese girls were getting along









2004/11/20 朝鮮日報


寄稿 日本の植民地時代を顧みて
元韓国・仁荷大学教授 朴贊雄






























1910年 (明治43年) 13,128,780人
1922 年 (大正11年) 17,208,139人
1934 年 (昭和9年) 20,513,804人
1942 年 (昭和17年) 25,525,409人
1945 年 (昭和20年) 29,000,000人(推定)



















Koreans have been lied to about the colonial period for sixty years and basically only know the propaganda they have read in their textbooks, which were written to cover up the fact that Koreans were essentially loyal subjects to the Japanese. The United States allowed Koreans to distance themselves from the Japanese after World War II because the US wanted Japan and Korea to be separated.

My mother-in-law talked to me one afternoon about her experiences during the Korean colonial period. She told me that the Japanese were very nice and polite and that she even went to Japan to study. She learned midwifery, flower arrangement, and a secret technique for removing moles without scarring and without them coming back. She said she never saw any of the bad things that Koreans say happened during the colonial period.

I have also talked to a few old men about Korea’s colonial period, but I can only remember the conversation I had with one elderly gentleman about three years ago. I met the old man in a park here in Incheon. He said “hi” to me and waved me over to sit with him on a bench. He started a conversation in English and told me he learned to speak English from working with the US army in Daegu after liberation.

I asked him what it was like during the Japanese colonial period, and he said it was terrible. I then told him that my mother-in-law liked the Japanese and that she didn’t see any of the bad things that Koreans say happened during that time. Then the old man smiled at me and said that he liked the Japanese, too. He then pulled out a Japanese magazine from inside his coat and told me he got it every month and came to the park to read it.

I asked the old man if the Japanese forced Koreans to speak Japanese, and he told me that the only time they spoke Japanese was in the classroom. I asked him what happened when they spoke Korean in the classroom, and he said that the teacher would just tell them to stop. When I asked him why he said the colonial period was terrible, he told me that he just said it out of habit.

I first came to Korea in 1977, and Koreans were afraid to talk about politics back them. If you asked them a question about President Park Chung-hee, they would automatically look around to see if anyone was listening and then would say that they did not want to talk about it for fear they would get in trouble.

Likewise, after liberation, I think Koreans were conditioned not to say anything good about the colonial period, and probably feared being labeled a pro-Japanese traitor if they did. Today, Koreans are still calling people traitors for being pro-Japanese, but, at least, there is not the fear of being arrested. Today, if elderly Koreans are still saying that the Japanese colonial period was terrible, they may be just saying it out of habit, like the old man I met in the park. Next time, you talk with an elderly Korean, try asking him or her for some details of his or her life during that period. They may end up inadvertently telling you that life was not so bad.Gerry

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