Victims of Japanese Imperial Discourse: Korean Literature Under Colonial Rule


October 3, 2008

Victims of Japanese Imperial Discourse: Korean Literature Under Colonial Rule
Victims of Japanese Imperial Discourse: Korean Literature Under Colonial Rule

Victims of Japanese Imperial Discourse: Korean Literature Under Colonial Rule

Park Yuha

Translated by Gavin Walker

Edited by Melissa Wender

    It is by now commonplace to observe that Japanese imperial ideology, or tennōsei, whose roots can be traced to the Meiji state, subjugated individuals in the name of the progress of the nation-state.  [1] One element of tennōsei, as is also now well known, was the notion of kokutai, literally “the national body,” the idea of Japan as functioning as an organic, even human, body.  What has been examined less frequently, however, is the character of the oppression faced by residents of Japan’s colonies, particularly Korea.  The Japanese empire not only took over the governance of the Korean peninsula but obliterated the very bodies of Korean imperial subjects by subsuming them into the larger body of the empire.  Or, I would argue, this is how we should understand the catchphrase naisen ittai, or Japan and Korea as one body.

    While the catchphrase naisen ittai might seem to suggest that Koreans were accepted as being Japanese in their very bodies, in fact, it required considerable effort on the part of Korean colonial subjects to acquire a national identity as “Japanese.” For example, evidence suggests that many volunteer soldiers believed that it was only through death that they could finally prove to themselves and others that they had become Japanese. Near the end of the colonial era in Korea, the notion that Japanese national identity was neither a given nor a unitary experience became widespread. Interestingly, we can find clearest evidence of this fact within the body of so-called pro-Japanese literature (shin’nichi bungaku, chin’il munhak). Indeed, pro-Japanese literature itself can be understood as part and parcel of such efforts to acquire “Japanese” national identity, speaking as it does of the stories of individual people under the spell of Japanese imperial ideology.

However, these texts have been largely ignored until recently, mostly for ideological reasons. Their importance for gauging the effects of the ideology of the Japanese empire is unparalleled, since despite the fact that the colonial era in Korea lasted for 40 years, there are few other works of Korean literature of the colonial period that contain “true to life” depictions of Japanese people and Koreans’ everyday interactions with them. If we consider that even before annexation there were many Japanese migrants to the Korean peninsula, the period during which Koreans could actually observe Japanese up close lasted for more than 50 years. [2]  Given both this fact and that imperial discourse insisted that Korean people become Japanese, one would expect there to be works contemplating just what it meant to be Japanese.  However, for the most part modern Korean writers did not include Japanese characters in their texts. When they do appear, for example in what is known as “resistance literature” (teikō bungaku), they generally emerge only in stereotype. In this sense, perhaps we might say that in Korean literature of this time, Japan appears only as a shadow. So, although colonialism meant that most Koreans had direct contact with Japan, Japanese, and Japaneseness, ironically Japanese people rarely appear as an object of direct representation.

Even after independence, when there was no need for Korean authors to fear censorship, and Japan could be freely depicted, Japanese generally appeared only in the stereotypical form of an “evil” aggressor. Cho Chŏng-nae’s 12 volume serial novel Arirang (Arirang), published in the 1990s, is representative of this tendency: It portrays the Japanese of the colonial period as invariably cunning and violent, cruel and lewd. [3] Much the same is true of Kim Chin-myŏng’s Mugunghwa kkoch’i p’iŏssŭmnida (The Rose of Sharon Bloomed, 1993), which sold millions of copies on the strength of this image of Korea as beautiful and good in contrast to “evil Japan.” This image of the cruel ruler was the easiest – and most politically correct — means of depicting Japanese for Koreans in the 1990s.

Thus it is that although they afford us only the barest glimpse of the everyday life of Japanese and Koreans living in the colony, the texts of so-called pro-Japanese literature, they are invaluable. These works are often taken as nothing more than an explicitly state-approved literature, but in fact, no writing more effectively expresses the confusion of Koreans during the late 1930s to mid-1940s, when the pressure to become “Japanese” took place under the banner of “Japan and Korea as one body” (naisen ittai). For example, full-blown imperialization policies (kōminka seisaku) such as forced name changes from Korean to Japanese (sōshi kaimei) or “worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar” (kyūjō yōhai) were required rituals for becoming “Japanese.” Because these policies affected all Koreans, in contrast to the expropriation of land or labor-power, they constituted the first form of directly experienced Japanese rule for most people. This body of “pro-Japanese” literature effectively enables us to reflect upon how people experienced this immediate connection to policies of control.

1. Japan as Ordering Mechanism

Although he is known for his significant contributions to early modern Korean literature, Yi Kwang-su has been treated dismissively as a representative pro-Japanese writer. In his novel Their Love (Kŭ tŭl ŭi sarang; Karera no ai), Yi portrays the feelings of a Korean student living in a Japanese household for Japan as follows:

What Wŏn-gu was most strongly struck by was that the Nishimoto family went to bed and woke up at the same times every day. Even though there wasn’t an alarm that would go off, it was as if everyone in the house heard a bell inside themselves saying, “go to sleep” and “wake up.” It seemed like it was the chimes of the old clock on the second floor in the Professor’s study that let the house move forward from moment to moment. Wake up at 6:00 am, go to bed at 10:00 pm, breakfast at 7:00 am, lunch exactly at noon, be at the table for dinner at 6:00 pm. [4]

For the Korean student, the everyday life of the Japanese is more than anything understood as a type of “ordering mechanism,” marking the sensation of the passage of time from moment to moment. He is “strongly struck by” this well-regulated life in which the “sound of the chimes” “let the house move forward from moment to moment.” The student protagonist soon becomes accustomed to and trusts in this lifestyle, while the author, Yi Kwang-su, was in his non-fiction writings promoting a Japanese style of living: “We must work vigorously towards the goal of reconstructing ourselves in our everyday lives as imperial subjects. The new spiritual system will only come to be completed in as much as it manifests itself in everyday life”. [5]

For Yi, it was through the imitation of “everyday life” that Koreans would be able to effect a “reconstruction [of themselves] as imperial subjects” (kōminkateki kaizō). What he meant by everyday life or the Japanese style of living was, for example, that adults and children should not eat “separately,” but rather “the entire family should gather around the table with correct manners” and “should sit correctly [Japanese-style] to the extent possible.” One ought to “keep one’s back straight,” “children should remain silent,” and meals should be treated as “important events and at the same time as rituals.” Yi remarks that “at meal times, it is the Japanese spirit to first make an offering to the gods and Emperor and then eat.” He argues that this is due to the fact that “every grain, every drop of liquid is thought to be changed into something given by the gods and His Majesty the Emperor, and at the same time one should think of the hardships endured by one’s ancestors and brethren and give thanks, expressing true feelings of appreciation.”

This is the type of setting in which the official gaze begins to enter the private space known as the ‘everyday’. For Yi the everyday life of Japan was a world already rooted in a totalitarian order, as in the “entire family gathering around the table,” a world of discipline of the body wherein one “should straighten one’s back” and “sit correctly.” Thus, as expressed in the precept that the meal should be conceived as a type of grace conferred by the gods and the emperor, we can see that what unifies and controls this order and discipline is the emperor. More precisely, Yi understood the existence of the living emperor as giving a physical reality to the discipline and order maintained by imperial subjects.

Through the act of “worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar” (kyūjō yōhai), the emperor’s ostensibly official existence is invited into the space of the everyday, and thus it is precisely by means of the existence of the emperor and nation-state that the private space of the individual is mentally and physically ingrained. This ritual of kyūjō yōhai, in which one turns to face Japan – or more precisely, the emperor in the Imperial Palace – and bows, began in tandem with the Third Chosŏn Educational Act (1938), which had been amended by Minami Jirō, the Governor General in Korea, and which was enforced with a siren in the cities that rang out at 7:00 am every morning. Yi Kwang-su describes it as follows:

I first opened my eyes at 6:00 in the morning. The 6:00 a.m. siren rang. It was the siren that told all Japanese nationals (Nihon kokumin) to get out of bed. Nothing like this had happened before. We were free to choose when to sleep and when to get up. From now on, the fatherland (sokoku) told all nationals (kokumin) to get up at 6:00 am. If we didn’t do it, the great work being carried out by the state (kokka) would be difficult. I finally opened my eyes at 6:30 in the morning. I couldn’t hear the 6:00 a.m. siren anymore. I got to sleep late because I was working on my manuscript last night. The manuscript is also something for the state, but that still no excuse to oversleep. As I  was told by  the mother’s association (mama-kai), I read a book after cleaning. Another siren rang out. “What do you think it’s for?” Since I still haven’t gotten used to this type of national life (kokumin seikatsu), I didn’t realize that it was the 7:00 am siren for worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar. When you hear that siren, the whole family, even servants, immediately clean up and stand in place, worshiping with all their hearts. […] Yesterday, at the Great Chosŏn Fairgrounds, I heard the noon siren and thought to set my watch, but I forgot to offer a silent prayer. I’m still not that good at national life. I suppose you’ve probably got to really try for years before you learn how to live like this. [6]

National education to become Japanese began with controls such as regulating the time when the entire nation woke up “at once.” Private time, in which “we were free to choose when to sleep and when to wake up,” was for the first time in modern Korean history under official control. It goes without saying that this was an unmistakably modern experience of oppression.

Like being trained to think of one’s meal as something given by the grace of the emperor, this was an experience designed to make one conscious of being in “official” space from the very moment one opened one’s eyes. It is the emperor that is at the apex of the segmentation of everyday time through sirens and clocks, and thus the possibility for Koreans of rapidly becoming “Japanese” was based on how quickly they could effectively internalize the existence of the emperor. In this sense we can say that in their everyday lives “Japaneseness” was synonymous with the “emperor.”

This means, ironically, that anyone who honored the emperor could become Japanese. In a certain sense, we can say that the regulated “national life” required to become a “national subject” (kokumin) of the emperor could be acquired simply by doing things like making sure to listen for the morning siren, and making sure not to forget the silent prayer at noon. The condition enabling one to become Japanese was neither language, culture, nor blood, but rather a loyalty manifested through ritual.

Of course, Yi points out that “mastering” (mi ni tsuku) or making this life one’s own requires “many years of effort,” but this indicates precisely that even only with “many years” and some “effort,” the national identity called “Japanese” could become a possibility.  When it compelled Korean people to refashion themselves as Japanese, the Japanese empire stressed that this was a possibility because of the fact that Koreans and Japanese shared a common ancestry (Nissen dōsōron).  And yet, while it touted the notion that this common fountainhead was the essence of national identity, at the same time the very idea that Koreans had to become Japanese exposed that in fact national identity had to be acquired belatedly through bodily training, or, in other words, that was not something essential, or in-born.

In reality, Yi’s children had already completed adapted to this “national life.” The “six year-old girl” did as her father told her, and quietly worshiped the Imperial Palace from afar, while his young son and daughter stopped in the middle of eating to worship, and upon their father’s return to the room, turned toward him and said with concern in Japanese, “Father, that siren just now was the siren for worshiping!” These children had become nearly perfect young Japanese imperial subjects not through any blood connection but through the acquisition of language and physical discipline. What had allowed these children to adopt the physical code or discipline of “worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar” so readily was precisely that their bodies had not been already inscribed into another regime of discipline that might conflict with the new one.

This is not to imply that Korean children could become truly Japanese, because in reality they continued to be treated differently from the Japanese. But these children, who used “Japanese language,” who performed rituals as “Japanese people,” never doubted their own “Japaneseness.” [7] In a certain sense, the greatest problem for the colonial
peoples was not the act of being colonized per se, but rather the wide gap between the official rhetoric, which proposed that they could become Japanese and thus equal members of the empire, and the true nature of colonial rule, which would keep them forever subjugated.

2. The Sorrow of “Pro-Japanese” Literature – The Case of Sŏ Jŏng-ju

Sŏ Jŏng-ju, perhaps post-liberation Korea’s greatest poet, published a short story called “Postman Ch’oe’s Military Longing” in October 1943, conveys understanding of the national identity “Japanese” as the internalization (mi ni tsukeru koto) of order and discipline. [8] In Sŏ’s story, the protagonist, Ch’oe, a “postman in a small town by the sea in southern Korea,” is desperately trying to acquire Japanese identity.   Ch’oe is a “reliable and trustworthy man of average build,” who delivers the mail not only in his own village, but also far and wide to “small villages in the deep mountains and down by the seashore.” Although his wife has passed away, he has a “mother who is blind in one eye,” and “a son who is a second-year student in elementary school.”


A bronze statue of Sŏ Jŏng-ju. While  respected as Korea’s greatest poet, the controversy surround his work as a pro-Japanese writer continues to rage in Korea.

In the text he is portrayed as a hardworking and sincere person who wakes up before dawn every morning in order to clean the house and garden, make breakfast for his mother, and help his son get ready for school.

While he was doing this, the sun had risen, so Ch’oe stopped what he was doing and changed into his postman’s uniform. He left the garden and, gazing to the east, called out to his son,“Toshio!” As soon as Toshio heard his father’s voice, he immediately responded in military style, “Hai!” and stood in line next to his father. They both wore somewhat worn-out uniforms, but the buttons were all neatly in place.

“Kyūjō yōhai!” In fact, the one who barked this out like an order wasn’t the father but the son. The truth is that it was Ch’oe who used to say it when they first started “worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar,” but he always
mispronounced it as “Ku-jo-yo-uhai.” Ever since his son corrected him one day after he’d become a second-year student, Ch’oe passed that duty onto his son. [9]

Even though no one is watching them, they gather at the same instant to perform this ritual as soon as the sun rises – for this father and son, “Japan” itself is a regime of discipline and control of the body which manifests itself in a precisely ordered physical style and command to ritually bow. Not only in his “military style response,” “Hai!” to being hailed by his Japanese name, but also in his continual chiding of his father’s halting Japanese through the use of “correct” Japanese, this young boy has already thoroughly internalize this discipline. In the figure of the father, who accepts his son’s admonishment for his incorrect Japanese pronunciation, we can see precisely the pitiful reality of the colonized position, making this work a type of inconspicuous resistance literature.

In any case, it shows that while the acquisition of the national identity “Japanese” was not easy for him, simultaneously we can see that simply by sufficiently learning the discipline of being a “national subject” (kokumin), he can express a certain degree of “Japaneseness.” His growing accustomed to “belonging to the military” (gunzoku) is a direct result of this.

On the other hand, this text reveals one instance which powerfully resists this type of internalization of national identity as “Japanese.”

After the ritual of worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar was over, Ch’oe’s mother always prepared a modest breakfast, and then sat waiting for her son and grandson. When Ch’oe first started worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar, he tried to persuade his mother to do it together with them, but no matter how many times he asked her, she never agreed. “She’s getting on a bit, and her back’s not what it was, so it’s fine if we just do her share ourselves.” Thinking this to himself, Ch’oe realized that he’d better give up trying to convince his mother.

Ch’oe understands his mother’s unwillingness to worship the Imperial Palace from afar because her “back’s not what it was.” But in fact, his mother’s refusal to participate in a ritual to “become” “Japanese” is her negation of their “performance” of national identity. [10] Later, after Ch’oe enters the military, she participates in this “performance,” but this does not directly constitute proof of any kind of “pro-Japanese” sentiment (shin’nichisei).  Indeed, there had arisen by this time generational differences in Koreans’ receptivity to becoming Japanese.  For example, some of those who willingly accepted the idea of becoming Japanese even criticized their parents for their resistance to Japanization.  Here we might read the mother’s decision to engage in the ritual of bowing toward the palace as her recognition that she has no other choice because she will be living off her son’s earnings and she cannot make him look bad.

As he walked in the door, taking off his cap, Ch’oe would sometimes try to exclaim “I’m back!” (Tada ima!) in Japanese (kokugo), not to Toshio, but to his mother. As he would have rather just said, “ŏmŏni!” (“mother!”) I’m sure you can all understand his lonely state of mind.

After silently eating his dinner, he would ask, of course in Japanese (kokugo), “Toshio, have you done all of your studying?”

Only after checking his son’s answers would he relax and close his eyes, which had been open throughout the day. [11]

Having begun his day by worshiping the Imperial Palace from afar, Ch’oe returns home at the end of the day and greets his mother by saying “Tada ima!” in Japanese, the national language. Although he uses the Japanese phrase “tada ima,” Ch’oe would prefer to “just say ‘ŏmŏni!’” and feels lonely and confused as a result of his as-yet imperfect acquisition of “Japan.”  The complexity of this depiction undercuts the typical analysis of Sŏ Jŏng-ju as merely a pro-Japanese writer.

3. Renunciation of the Individual – Permeation of the Official

When brushing your teeth, do it with all your might; when washing your face, do it with all your might; when eating a meal, devote all your energy to eating; when playing, concentrate hard. Wŏn-gu felt that this was the Japanese spirit, the Japanese way. [12]

For this boy who thinks that the “Japanese spirit,” the “Japanese way of life,” is signified by “enthusiasm,” “sincerity,” and “devoting all your energy” to every aspect of everyday life, it isn’t just that Japanese people work at everything with all their might – as he watches the people around him work neatly and diligently, he thinks to himself: “As if you could stand before the gods at any moment.” This was a phrase that Wŏn-gu mulled over a lot. [13]

In other words, the individual who sincerely follows the “official” demands of everyday life is one who is always conscious of the eyes of the gods or the Emperor as “official,” and it is this preparedness – never forgetting the nation-state – which is precisely the “Japanese spirit” he identifies. At the time, it could also be seen in imperialization policies being put into practice. No Ch’ŏn-myŏng referred to this as “taking to heart both divine favor and indebtedness to the emperor, becoming an imperial woman appropriate to the new system, and at the same time learning knowledge and capabilities for the expansion of production.” We can see it in things such as training through communal living from 6:00 am to 9:00 p.m., “without even the slightest waste,” or in impressions such as “to feel things most sincerely is the life of duty.” [14]

In the phrase, “This life becomes possible only in as much as you know divine favor and indebtedness to the emperor,” there is a self-awareness that individual life is possible only predicated on the existence of subjects of the nation-state (kokka shutai) encapsulated in such phrases as “divine favor” and “indebtedness to the emperor.” We can say that this is not a vision of the nation-state as a collection of individuals, but rather a moment of inversion founded on the notion that the individual can exist only in as much as there is a nation-state.

Precisely because this process existed, an almost religious schema, emphasizing the renunciation of individuality and subjectivity, and placing the nation-state at its pinnacle, could be created: “Your brother belongs to His Majesty the Emperor. Your husband belongs to His Majesty the Emperor. Your body belongs to His Majesty the Emperor. This is the Japanese spirit.” [15]

In an essay in which he emphasizes individual responsibility toward the nation-state, Yi Kwang-su more clearly develops this idea:

In other words, if you eat the grain of the nation-state, you should work for the nation-state. In the new order, there will be nothing like your own body, your own property, or your own son. Everything will belong to the nation. The way of thinking which says – this is mine, so I will do with it what I like – is inexcusable, it is individualism, liberalism, and it is incompatible with the ideology of the new Japanist value system (Nihonshugi shintaisei shiso). [16]

For Yi, who speaks about his own text as a “service to the nation,” the “new system” of “Japan” is one in which there is no longer “your own body, your own property, or your own son.” Even if they were to exist, “body,” “property,” and “son” can only exist as belonging to the nation. Beyond understanding “Japanism” merely in this sense, it is a matter of course for Yi that “individualism and liberalism,” which emphasize the right to exist as an “individual,” are incompatible with it.

It is also a given that this “Japanese spirit,” which does not even categorize the family in its relationship to the self, necessarily acts to negate the “self”, and thus “it is clearly understood that making excuses for yourself, overemphasizing yourself, showing off, and so on, have little to do with the Japanese spirit.” [17] The fact that in colonial Korea the “Japanese spirit” was one that would not allow for making excuses for or overemphasizing the self demonstrates that the new Japanese spirit is merely a new appellation for that which formerly had been valorized as the “Meiji spirit,” and which likewise had required the destruction of the “self” (onore). [18]

Another example of a Korean subject’s recognition of the degree to which participation in the empire require suppression of the self can be found in what the poet Sŏ Jŏng-ju, whom I referred to above, wrote about his military training:

I’ll tell you something truly important. For some reason, ever since I came here, my voice has gradually been sinking into my interior. Far from orders like, “come here,” “stay there,” and so on, I don’t even have the confidence to raise my voice and respond, “Yes!” when someone calls to me, “Shizuo!” I see my “self” becoming completely formless and fading away. Perhaps this feeling is making me realize and reflect on how much I used to meaninglessly rely on this thing called a “self.” I guess I need to be reborn into some totality. [19]

He is unable to hide his confusion at the thought that his “self” is “becoming formless and fading away,” but is also able to make himself comprehend this by means of another type of understanding: “I” “need to be reborn into some totality.” Within an oppressive situation in which the “self” was fading away into nothingness, colonial Koreans, in order to make themselves understand themselves, required precisely this collective fantasy of “being reborn into some totality.”

4. The Inversion of Loyalty

Amongst the colonized, those who most required this image of being “reborn” into a “totality,” were the soldiers.  Here is a contemporary description of the situation:

In any case, it has been continually reasserted that the foundation of the urgent task we bear, that is, the great work of historical creation, is located in individual national self-awareness (kokuminteki jikaku). In other words, as is often said, the individual is connected to the whole, and totality is formed by means of individuals. Individual and whole are not established through mutual separation; in our country, thankfully the whole is the emperor, while the individual is the “people,” as derived from the leading families. It goes without saying that the Western view of the world and life, formed through the traditional principle of the individual, has been corrected in our country and returned to its original true form through the supreme idea of the nation-state as the basis of a new worldview and view of life. That is, there is a people only because there is a nation-state, and there is culture only because there is a nation-state. Thus, to rid yourself of petty thoughts of the ego and die a noble death (tōtoi sange) that dwells in the greater self is to live forever in that totality. [20]

What this final sentence emphasizes in order to justify offering up one’s life in a “noble death” (sange) is that the emperor is not an individual but a totality, and that in living for this totality one has the possibility of becoming not merely “ego” but part of? a “greater self.” To die a “noble death” itself is to “live forever in the totality” of the emperor, that is, to accomplish a true “unification” with Japan, the expected outcome of which is becoming Japanese. Koreans were, after all, nothing more than the man-made, or artificial, children of the Emperor, but just as for Japanese soldiers dying for the Emperor meant becoming natural, authentic “people” of the Emperor, thereby guaranteeing an eternal cycle of birth-rebirth as “Japanese,” so too for Koreans. This type of logic is what allowed them to so easily rush into the negation of the self as an “individual.” [21]

Becoming a soldier was, for Koreans moreover, a method for maximizing their internalization of “Japan” as an ordering mechanism. Another text written to encourage Koreans to become volunteer soldiers discusses this method of internalization in the context of a critique of Korea’s “neglect of military training” during the Choson Dynasty:

For Koreans in particular, a sense of proper hierarchy was disrupted, and the respect and love between older and younger students were lost. Koreans are now agitated — much like a fish thrown onto a stove begins to twitch of its own accord when a flame is lit under it.

Training as volunteer soldiers has opened a new path to Koreans who have been living in a world lacking order. Not only has it become possible for Koreans in this untrained and unordered situation to learn discipline, this system of volunteer soldiers has enabled a recognition of a sense of a duty to the nation-state, and has thus made the Korean spirit purer. [22]

For them, Japan more than anything represented an existence in which discipline of military training had been internalized, a mode of being through learning by example.

Yet, we must not forget that more than Japanese, this type of ordering and discipline is modern. While depicting the everyday soldier’s life from waking at 6:00 am to clean, worship the Imperial Palace from afar, and recite the oath of imperial subjects (kōkoku shinmin joshi anshō), Ham praises them for “maintaining order even when eating,” in the belief that “trained people, and a trained nation (minzoku) are indeed strong.” It should be noted here that the Japanese ideology of strength that had aimed, since the Meiji period, for a strong sense of nation (minzoku), was spreading its roots to the colony.
That is to say, for Koreans, to neglect your body, given to you by your parents, was to go against the Confucian conception of filial piety to which they were accustomed, and thus in this sense, the concept that dying for the nation-state constituted and act of “loyalty” ran counter to ingrained notions of filial piety. 

For example, in Chang Hyŏk-chu’s “Saeroun ch’ulbal” (Atarashii shuppatsu), the young man who enters the training camp writes a letter to a friend saying “All I think of every day” is “how to revive our concept of filial piety more broadly as a spirit of loyalty.” The friend who receives this letter thinks, “The greatest task of spiritual education consists in bringing the unique ethical sense of young Koreans into the Japanese spirit and remolding it into something new.” They think this is something “truly important,” but simultaneously recognize that it is nearly impossible.

We clearly understood the true feelings of the imperial soldiers for their parents, as they would happily go to their deaths for one parent, in this case, the emperor. There were a variety of tasks in the training camp, but the primary one was the correction of this notion of loyalty, and the next was becoming habituated to life in Japan proper (naichi) – in other words, we lived our everyday life in Japanese style (naichi shiki).

When it came time for correcting his views of loyalty, no matter how different he was from the other Korean trainees, he too couldn’t completely discipline his spirit. In as much as he was quite patriotic, he still had a lot of things in himself that he needed to correct before he could understand the correspondence between his patriotism and loyalty to his rulers as well as filial piety. [23]

“Patriotism” is the subject here, but there is a young Korean boy who hasn’t yet reconciled patriotism with imperial loyalty. Just as the unity of loyalty and filial piety, which became possible only in as much as the emperor was positioned above the parent, was also debated in Japan at the end of the Meiji period, this was not something easily internalized by a Korean youth of the time. But he thinks, “The ability for Korean youth to become excellent Imperial soldiers will depend on their ability to correct their views on loyalty and filial piety.”

We must think of filial piety as not only pertaining to our biological parents, but also to His Majesty the Emperor, who is also our parent. This is the spirit of loyalty, in which the lesser piety is contained within the greater piety – that is, there must be development from the lesser piety towards the greater piety. To put it another way, this is the unity of loyalty and filial piety. The primary goal in the training camp is to cultivate the spirit to understand that to be loyal is itself to demonstrate filial piety. However, to stop at filial piety and not develop it into loyalty is an outdated merely filial spirit of the former family system, one that is unsuitable for our country. To correct our views of loyalty and filial piety, everyone must take up the training of the spirit as the single most essential task. [24]

Because of this troubling incompatibility between loyalty and filial piety, Chang and other so-called pro-Japanese Koreans treated piety towards one’s parents as “lesser piety,” and piety towards the emperor as “greater piety,” and through this schema in which greater piety is prioritized over lesser piety, they came to understand and accept themselves.

In a poem called “Student Soldiers of Korea,” [25] Yi Kwang-su advises young men debating whether or not to become volunteer soldiers not to “hesitate,” precisely at this moment of inversion, when for the first time in Korea, the “nation-state” was elevated into a position superior to the categories of “father” or “individual” based on the logic of “if there is no nation there are no parents.” What sustained this inversion were the two notions that individualism was something Western, and that the doctrine of filial piety, which elevated parents to the highest position, was outdated. In this sense, both the position of the emperor and the centrality of the nation-state were justified through the convenient use of the ideologies of civilizational difference and traditionalism.

5. Colonial Desire and Gender

However, while certain intellectuals provided such rationales, the young men of the time absolutely were inclined to “hesitate.”  These problems were real for them. What is especially worthy of notice is that it was not they but their mothers who were strongly criticized for this “hesitance.” For example as Chang Hyŏk-chu argued, “Korean mothers are engrossed with love for their children,” and “never think of making their children strong or sacrificing them for the nation.” The young man in Chang’s novel thinks that “this coddling weakens the youth of Korea,” and that responsibility for preventing them from “training of the soul” lies with the “expressions of affection of the mothers of the Korean peninsula.”  Conversely, when one young man sends his mother a letter worrying about her, she responds by saying that it is unbecoming for one “becoming a soldier of His Majesty the Emperor” to worry about family. Consequently, she is praised as an “excellent Japanese mother.”

Of course, the model against which this is measured is the group of genuine (honmono no) Japanese mothers.  Here is the logic of one Korean observer:

The reason that Japanese women are today revered as the most devoted mothers of all the military powers in the world derives from their religious faith, the foundation of which is the tradition of the emperor.  Thinking about the practical orientation of Korean families, I feel anxious, doubting that Korean women will be able to act as such noble wives and mothers to military men.  We should consign our rationalistic and practical lifestyle to the past, raise our children with constant prayer, and send them out into the world with faith [that allows them to] happily give up their lives for the emperor. [26]

Choosing “faith” is to eschew “practicality” and “rationality,” and to embrace something “irrational” is considered worthy.  In their “traditional religious belief in the emperor,” this author argues, the women of Korea ought to mimic the women of Japan.

This praise for “Japanese mothers” can also be seen in the following example from a play set in the coal mines. Two young men criticize one of their mothers for hesitating to send the younger brother, who wants to be a soldier, into the military.

Kanemura: “The women in Japan were just as amazing as I thought. I saw this for myself, you know, I was really moved. At Osaka station, a mother was with her son, who was departing for the front. When I saw it, I thought, this country of bushidō is really something else. She didn’t shed a single tear in front of her son, just sent him off cheerily and waited till he’d gone to feel sad. It’s a bit embarrassing to say, but what’d happen if this were in Korea? It’d be awful if she grabbed her son and started wailing.”

Kil-dol: “Yeah…the reason Japanese soldiers are the strongest in the world must be because they’ve got mothers like that, huh?”

Kanemura: “That’s right, it’s ’cause Japanese mothers all think of their sons as something to sacrifice for the nation, not just as their own individual child. So they can offer their child to the state at any time, and send them off to the front with encouragement, never shedding a tear.” [27]

For these young men, “Japan” is an attitude in which certain things are possible – for example, even if you are a mother, you give up your “individual child,” and rather than protecting your son, send him “without shedding a single tear” to the battlefield. At the time, this type of understanding was the backdrop against which women took up drill training. But it wasn’t so simple for Korean women to become “Japanese mothers.” In the end they were presented through the male author’s image of the exemplary woman: “Older brother, please become a soldier. I’m a woman so I can’t go. You’re a man, aren’t you? So please join the army. Please become a brave soldier and fight for His Majesty the
Emperor.” [28]

That is, for Korean men whose aim was to become “Japanese,” Korean women were presented as a hindrance. In the colony, to become a “soldier” was to express your value as a “man,” the path to realize the dream of a bright future. For example, here a young man who has sent his younger brother off to the army, turns to his mother and says: “I wanted him to just go to a good school, and be a success too. But these days, the only way for him to be a success as a man is to be a soldier.” Of course, this primary type of ability to make oneself a success is a privilege only afforded to “men”:

“Women seem pretty clever, but they’ve got less brains than us, don’t you think?”


“Listen, it’s a real privilege that we were born men. Got it? The point is, men are greater than women. So we’ve got to do at least that much.” [29]

For these men, the notion that men are greater than women is connected to their sense of mission, the feeling that they “must accomplish something for the world.” They understand their personal choice to become soldiers as a means of quickly becoming “Japanese,” and that it is their duty as men to demonstrate this ability not in the private space of the household, but in the official space of “the world.” To be a soldier and subject of the Emperor, something a woman can never be, is to be a privileged “chosen one,” thereby giving proof of “greatness.” In other words, they come to see the act of choosing itself as what proves their masculinity, but in the end this masculinity is only attainable through becoming a soldier, and through “Japan,” a fact obscured by the attention paid to public participation as men’s responsibility. [30] Here we can clearly see the way that men became complicit with both the sovereign power and the colonized nation because it gave them some sense of themselves as powerful.

That is, in colonial society, one of only a few ways, and arguably the most effective way, for a man to assert his masculine identity was to join the Japanese military and become an imperial soldier. In this manner Korean men could fulfill their notions of superiority over Korean women, deeply rooted in society, and escape the oppression and emasculating effects of Japanese colonization within their own society.

We must grasp Chang’s novel from this perspective.  In it, a young man who is encouraged by the news that his friend has decided to join up, is subsequently ashamed to learn that he cannot join the military because he is too old. He has been in Japan a long time, and faithfully attends the sending-off party for the soldiers, expressing feelings of gratitude. In the end, he is forced to say,

“Well, I can’t go into the army ’cause of my health, so the least I can do is see you off…”

Hearing this someone said, “Really? But you seem so healthy!”

He explained that when he was younger, he had eagerly considered doing so.

“[But] the truth is that at the time there wasn’t a system of conscription in the Korean peninsula yet.”

However, perhaps he was being a bit too easy on himself.  Still, he comforted himself by thinking that he was thankful that the volunteer system was [now] in place, so just as in Japan (naichi), many young Korean men on the continent who wanted to be a shield for and give their lives for the emperor could do so.” [31]

This still relatively young man, who says that his health and age prevented him from entering the army shows us that “going into the army” was seen by some to be a privilege. We can see his inferiority complex here, as someone who, while he seems to “be so healthy,” to have all the physical characteristics to become a soldier, nevertheless cannot enter the military.

The right to “become the shield of the emperor” or to give one’s life was only conferred upon those who had gone through physical and spiritual “training,” and had passed the test of becoming “Japanese” by training as soldiers. “Giving your life” was therefore a privilege, since it was the sole way for Korean men to become equals as both “Japanese” and “masculine.” This is why the man here feels it necessary to explain why he had not joined the military by noting that he had been too old to join under the extant regulations. Koreans who wanted to become Japanese, or rather who felt that they had to become Japanese, discovered their difference from Japanese people when their loyalty was called into question.
Let us examine a passage from Yi Kwang-su on the concept of “Japan and Korea as one body” (naisen ittai):

 Until now, “Japan and Korea as one body” meant throwing away that which is Korean and learning from that which is Japanese. This in the first place means cultivating the spirit of loyalty towards the Imperial Household. The feelings of Japanese people towards the Imperial Household are truly unique, and it will require a great amount of study for Koreans to approach this level. It is not the same thing as what we used to call “loyalty to the ruler and love of country” (chūkun aikoku).

The feeling of loyalty of Japanese people cannot be explained merely with the Chinese character “loyalty” (chū, 忠), but rather resembles the loyalty of the Jews to Yahweh. Japanese people think of all good fortune bestowed on them as something that stems from the Emperor. One’s land belongs to the Emperor, one’s household belongs to the Emperor, one’s children belong to the Emperor, one’s body and life belong to the Emperor. Because your body belongs to the Emperor, if the Emperor calls upon you, you happily give up your life. The Emperor is a living god. This is an entirely different relation from that found in China or Europe between the ruler and subject. [32]

Koreans in the colonial period tried to acquire the national identity “Japanese” by means of learning what constituted loyalty the Emperor. The different significations of Japan, for instance “order” and “discipline,” were fully integrated into the figure of the Emperor.  In my mind, the definition of Japaneseness through the use of such terms was a consequence of the success of the ideas about “Meiji spirit,” which had allowed Japan to resist the incursion of the West. The “Japanese spirit,” like the Meiji one, required the populace to be willing to give up their lives for the nation-state or Emperor. Many colonial men came to deeply internalize this logic and even to sacrifice their lives for the empire.  To understand why they did so, we must not forget that doing so also made it possible for them to differentiate themselves and assert their superiority over the women of the colony.

6. War and Death/Poetry in Kike, Wadatsumi no koe

The internalization of such ideologies of self-sacrifice from the Meiji period onward not only affected the men of the colonies, but obviously also can be found in the writings left behind by the young men who lived in Japan itself.  Kike, wadatsumi no koe (Listen to the Voices From the Sea), which became a widely-read “classic” after Japan’s defeat, and which clearly documents the internal struggles of student-soldiers who had misgivings about the war, demonstrates for us how deeply rooted this mode of thought was for the wartime generation. [33] The text was an important one for postwar anti-war thought, yet some of the sentiments expressed in it also reveal how thoroughly the Meiji ideology of self-sacrifice had permeated the populace.

As mentioned above, Kike, wadatsumi no koe, which clearly records the inner thoughts of student soldiers who felt ambivalence about the war, was very important for postwar anti-war thinkers.  However, at the same time, the unfortunate truth is that those on the right wing also have taken up the memoirs and letters published in Koe to argue that “all of the students killed in the war were troubled by the illogicality of the war, and yet affirmatively accepted the way things were, came to terms with it, and went to their deaths.  It is unconscionable to stress only half the story, to forget their [having ultimately decided to go to their deaths].” [34] In The Fatherland and Youth (Sokoku to seinen), we see the students of Koe being utilized in propaganda to spur Japanese young people to war : “In the students who rose up to help when their fatherland was in trouble, we see what is a universal will or spirit, and that which also was the key to Japan’s rebirth” [after the war].  That is to say, while Koe surely has these two sides to it (despite having been used far more frequently been used for anti-war purposes), neither the right wing nor the left has done anything but propagate its own understanding of the text. 

When members of the right wing talk about these students, they do so in order to praise them for having gone to their deaths having accepted their need to go to war.  Our efforts to discredit this understanding of the students’ actions will be most effective if we can show what sort of thought it was that made the students “accept” what they had to do.  Here I would like to point out simply that they fell into a similar trap to that of colonial men who participated in the war (and saw themselves as one with the nation-state):  They acted as “subjects” within a structure that did not allow them to be free subjects, within a backdrop of the exclusion of women, and both traditional and enlightenment thought being used whenever convenient (and inconsistently, because they contradicted one another). [35]

That is, the young men in Kike wadatsumi no koe also believed that sacrificing their own lives was something they “must do to connect the individual to the greater life of the nation-state,” that they should “cut off personal feelings” for “blood relatives.” We have already seen the concept of the nation-state as a “greater life” in the thought of the colonial men examined earlier.  I would argue that this mode of thinking finds its origins in the idea of the nation as an organic body (minzoku yūkitai shisō), a notion that was influential from the Meiji period onwards. Belief in such ideas, of course, helped these men to “plunge in headlong while continually praying only for the eternal development of Japan’s life” (Mikuriya Takuji).

One can also see this in the attitude of the “abandonment of the individual” – “At the moment I both am and am not myself. Or I am the concentration of the prayers of a billion national citizens” (Ichijima Yasuo). Here again, in order to be unified with the nation-state, it is necessary to hollow out the hitherto-existing “I” or regard the self as “the concentration of the prayers of a billion national citizens,” a receptacle filled with the “will” of an imagined “totality.”

Further, for these soldiers, “spirit” and “science” confront each other, and they understand Japan as an existence placed on the side of “spirit”:

I want to confirm that it is a fact that what can ensure the final victory is not something material, but spiritual power. I’ve come to this harmonious way of thinking. Or rather, in order to save the nation-state, I realized that I had to think like this. (Takushima Tokumitsu)

If we compare the Russo-Japanese War and the Great East Asia War, we can see that the relation of material and spiritual forces is being inverted. The history of humanity’s development is vividly displayed here. He who honors culture will prosper, he who ignores it will perish. The power of culture is terrible. (Uehara Ryōji)

In America, there is no “spirit.” If anyone in America truly had a heart, I’m sure they would be aware of this. In emphasizing the Japanese “spirit” and “heart,” I believe I’m certainly not the first to point this out. (Sugimura Hiroshi)

This type of framework, which grasps the “West” solely as the world of “science,” and Japan as the possessor of “culture” and “spirit,” is of precisely the same strain of thought as that of Natsume Sōseki in the early twentieth century.

Thus the soldiers aestheticize “death” into “poetry,” and valorize this way Of thinking as something stemming from Japan’s unique “culture”:

Even if there is science in foreign (ketō) thinking, there is no poetry. Only Euclid got to the single absolute origin of learning. But even though it’s incisive, it has no elegance. Even journalists are throwing away the pen and relying on machines. By contrast, even an illiterate Japanese takes poetry to heart. Originally, poetry did not signify material forms of expression such as tanka or free-verse poetry. Poetry was a type of leisure of the spirit, a refined state of mind delighting in for example, thinking of the cause of the cold wind as the sprouting of the evergreens. (Nishimura Hidehachi)

In this sense, the schema since Meiji of “West = civilization = science” played an important role in the soldiers’ decisions to take the path towards death. They discover “poetry,” “spirit,” and “culture,” in throwing away their lives, and are thus able to repress their natural fear of killing and dying.  The following words show us once again that for the Japanese soldiers, the battlefield was, more than anything, something which confirmed themselves as “men”:

Argh! I’ve got to stop these sissy feelings. My affairs are in order, nothing left to do, my body condition’s in perfect shape, I’ve done my duty standing guard, my life’s in my hands, and I’ve headed off towards where it’s covered in palm trees. It’s a man’s lifelong ambition, if I hear the call, I swear to stand ready without shame as one soldier in the Imperial Army. Ready to suffer. (Shinozaki Jirō)

One part of a man is devoted to the family he supports, while in another part things like pride and ambition come together and rise to the level of society. That’s where wars without the fireworks always start. (Tasaka Tokutarō)

Since the Meiji period, a national identity rooted in empire and tennō led to the sacrifice of the young men, not only of the colonies, but of Japan. However, I would not argue that Japanese and Korean youth were equally oppressed by this ideology.  Korean men participated in the war, but they did so in an effort to become “Japanese,” a desire that rather indicates the extent to which the discriminatory structure of the Japanese colonial system was both deeply-ingrained and obscured.  Nonetheless, Korean soldiers became wrongdoers by virtue of their participation in the war effort, and it is necessary for us to examine that wrongdoing if we are to truly understand the complicated nature of the wrongs done to them.  I am not suggesting that Japan and Korea should be evaluated with the same criteria, but rather that by more carefully identifying the complex manner in which the colonial structure is implicated here, we will be able to better recognize the ingenuity of imperial discourse.  For example, in Korea today, it is entirely forgotten that during the colonial era, Korea acted as an aggressor vis-à-vis both China and the Allies, and even B and C-class war criminals are classified as “victims” of the colonial period.  In the end, this sort of historical amnesia results in the continued obscuration of the multiple contradictions of the colonial era.

What directed both Japanese and Korean men towards the battlefield without the slightest skepticism about their membership in nation or empire was the discourse originally formed in Meiji modernity. Here the word modernity never connoted the freedom of human beings to do what they will, but instead functioned as a vehicle for internal oppression. In this sense, we cannot appraise the actions of these young men of Japan and Korea as the free choice of true subjects. Rather, they were the victims of the discourse and discipline of their era.  Yet at the same time, we must acknowledge that their sense of themselves as worthy human beings was acquired through the very thing that victimized them, participation in nation/empire through military service.   We must also recall that the notion of such actions as worthy was, in turn, predicated on the exclusion and subordination of women.  Only when we confront the multiple conflicting emotions and senses of obligation that faced these men will we be able to comprehend what drove them to offer up their very lives to the nation-state.

Park Yuha teaches Japanese and Korean literature at Sejong University. A specialist on colonial literature, she is the author of National Identity and Gender: Soseki, Literature and the Modern (Nashonaru aidentiti to jenda: Sōseki, bungaku, kindai).

Gavin Walker is a Ph.D. candidate in East Asian Literature at Cornell University. His article, “The Double Scission of Mishima Yukio: Limits and Anxieties in the Autofictional Machine” is forthcoming in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique. He is currently translating selected writings of Uno Kōzō.

Park Yuha wrote this article for Japan Focus. It was posted on October 16, 2008.


[1] This article is based on a presentation given in September 2001 at Nihon University’s post colonial studies group. An earlier version of the text was published as “Meiji gensetsu no giseisha tachi: ‘Shin’nichi’-sha to gakutohei tachi no shi ni itaru shisō,” chapter 9 of Nashonaru aidentiti to jendā:Sōseki, bungaku, kindai (Kurein, 2007), 261-288 [Trans.].

[2] According to the 1876 Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity signed in the wake of Japanese gunboat diplomacy, Japan had the right to create a settlement for Japanese within the Korean peninsula, and the ports of Pusan and Inchŏn were subsequently opened. As a result, the immigration of Japanese to Korea began before annexation, and by the time of annexation in 1910 there were already 20,000 Japanese living in Pusan, and more than 10,000 in Inchŏn. See Hashiya Hiroshi, “Busan, Inchon no keisei” in Iwanami kōza: Kindai Nihon to shokuminchi 3: Shokuminchika to sangyōka (Iwanami Shoten, 1993).

[3] See Park Yuha, Pan’il minjokjuŭi rŭl nŏmŏsŏ (Seoul: Sahoe Pyŏngronsa, 2000); Han’nichi nashonarizumu o koete, trans. An Cha-sik (Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 2005).

[4] Yi Kwang-su, “Kŭ tŭl ŭi sarang” (“Karera no ai”) in Sin sidae, January-March 1941. Contained in Kim Byŏng-gŏl and Kim Kyu-dong, eds. Chin’il munhak chakp’um sŏnjip, 2 vols. (Seoul: Silchŏn Munhaksa, 1986). All references to “pro-Japanese” texts are to these volumes.

[5] Yi Kwang-su, “Simjŏk sinch’eje wa Chosŏn munhwa ŭi chinro” (“Shinteki shintaisei to Chōsen bunka no shinro”) in Maeil sinbo 1940, September 4-12.

[6] Yi Kwang-su, “Simjŏk sinch’eje wa Chosŏn munhwa ŭi chinro” (“Shinteki shintaisei to Chōsen bunka no shinro”) in Maeil sinbo 1940, September 4-12.

[7] In Kurementain no uta (Bunwa Shobō, 1980), Kim Si-jong writes of the crisis of identity experienced by a 16 year-old boy celebrating the independence of the colonies.

[8] “Ch’oe ch’ebu ŭi gunsok chimang” (“Yūbin haitatsunin Che no gunzoku shibō”), originally published in Chogwang, October 1943, in Kim Byŏng-gŏl and Kim Kyu-dong, eds. Chin’il munhak chakp’um sŏnjip, 2 vols. (Seoul: Silchŏn Munhaksa, 1986).

[9] In November 1939, one aspect of all-out imperialization policy, the policies related to changes of name from Korean to Japanese (sōshi kaimei, literally “creating family names and changing given names”), took effect, and were enforced beginning in February of the next year. See Miyata Setsuko et al. Sōshi kaimei (Akashi Shoten, 1992). Since the protagonist is called “Ch’oe,” but his son’s name is Toshio, we can assume that they also
had a Japanese family name. Emphasis mine.

[10] See Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
(London: Routledge, 1989).

[11] In 1911, the year after annexation, the first Chosŏn Educational Act was promulgated, making Japanese the “national language” (kokugo), and referring to Korean as “Chōsengo.” See Ch’oe Yuri’s “Ilche malgi hwangminhwa chŏngch’aek ŭi sŏnggyŏk: Ilbonŏ pogŭp undong ŭl chungshim ŭro” in Hanguk gŭnhyŏndaesa yŏngu 2 (Seoul: Hanguk gŭnhyŏndaesa hakhoe, 1995). After the third Chosŏn Educational Act of 1938, policies which had allowed for the joint use of “Chōsengo” were changed, and Japanese was enforced not only as a “classroom language” but also as the language of “daily use.” nationwide.See Miyata Setsuko’s Chōsen minshu to kōminka seisaku (Miraisha, 1985). Subsequently, in 1942, the movement for the diffusion of Japanese language went into full-blown enforcement under such names as “Movement for Universal Understanding of National Language” and “Movement for the Use of National Language,” but this was something designed in preparation for the enforcement of conscription in 1944. In fact, in August 1944, the slogan “Let us carry out our lives in the national language to become excellent soldiers” (“Rippa na gunjin ni naru tame ni kokugo seikatsu o jisshi shiyō”) was widely propagated (see Ch’oe Yuri, above).

[12] Yi Kwang-su, “Kŭ tŭl ŭi sarang” (“Karera no ai”) in Sin sidae, January-March 1941.

[13] Yi Kwang-su, “Kŭ tŭl ŭi sarang” (“Karera no ai”) in Sin sidae, January-March 1941. The “Korean League for the Total Mobilization of National Spirit” (Kokumin seishin sōdōin Chōsen renmei) adopted the principle of “Japan and Korea as one body” (naisen ittai), and publicized its articles for practice in 1939. Included in their platform, known as “The Cultivation of the Imperial Spirit,” was an article called “Life Reform” (seikatsu no kakushin). See Son Chŏng-mok, Ilche kangjŏmgi tosi sahoesang yŏngu (Seoul: Iljisa, 1996). In the training camps for volunteer soldiers, “’Japanization’ was always the aim, even in minor matters of everyday life. Baths were taken together, and the correct style of bathing was taught, meals were overseen in detail, designed to instill correct manners and feelings of gratefulness. Things such as the correct way to use the toilet, how to walk through the halls, and how to enter a room were all taught.” See Miyata’s article cited in note 10 above.

[14] No Ch’ŏn-myŏng, “Josei rensei – Hamgyŏng (Kankyō) josei kunrenjo kanranki” (“Yŏin yŏnsŏng,” originally in Japanese) in Kokumin bungaku, June 1943.

[15] Yi Kwang-su, “Haha, imōto, tsuma tachi e” in Sanzenri (Samchŏlli) July 1940.

[16] Yi Kwang-su, “Simjŏk sinch’eje wa Chosŏn munhwa ŭi chinro” (“Shinteki shintaisei to Chōsen bunka no shinro”) in Maeil sinbo 1940, September 4-12.

[17] Chang Hyŏk-chu, “Saeroun ch’ulbal” (“Atarashii shuppatsu”) in Kokumin sōryoku, vol. 5, no. 12-18, 1943.

[18] See Park Yuha, “Kojinshugi no hatan – Kokoro,” chapter 7 of Nashonaru aidentiti to jendā: Sōseki, bungaku, kindai (Kurein, 2007).

[19] Sŏ Jŏng-ju, “Podohaeng – Kyŏngsŏng sadan ch’ugye yŏnsŭp ŭi twi rŭl ttarasŏ” (“Hōdōkō – Kyōjō shūki renshū to tomo ni”) in Chogwang, December 1943.

[20] Kwak Chong-wŏn, “Kyŏljŏn munhak ŭi inyŏm” (“Kessen bungaku no rinen”) in Kokumin bungaku, April 1944.

[21] As a result of the Special Army Volunteer Act, the military volunteer system came into effect in Korea in 1938. Only those who were recognized to have the characteristics of an “Imperial subject,” as observed in certain types of training, were allowed to volunteer. They entered the forces as new recruits on active duty, and after their discharge would return to their hometowns to become the driving forces of imperialization policy. See Miyata’s article cited in note 10 above.

 [22] Ham Tae-hun, “Uridŭl kwa chiwŏnbyŏng” (“Bokura to shiganhei”) in Chogwang, December 1940.

[23] Chang Hyŏk-chu, “Saeroun ch’ulbal” (Atarashii shuppatsu), Kokumin sōryoku, vol. 5, no. 12-18, 1943.

[24] Chang Hyŏk-chu, “Saeroun ch’ulbal.”

[25] Yi Kwang-su, “Chosŏn ŭi hakdoyŏ” (“Chōsen no gakutohei”) in Maeil sinbo, November 4th, 1943.

[26] Ch’oe Chae-sŏ, “Chingbyŏngje silsi ŭi munhwajŏk ŭiŭi” (“Chōheisei jisshi no bunkateki imi”) in Kokumin bungaku, May-June 1942.

[27] Cho Yong-man, “Kwangsan ŭi pam” (“Kōzan no yoru”) in Kokumin bungaku, January 1944.

[28] Yi Kwang-su, “Haha, imōto, tsuma tachi e” in Sanzenri (Samchŏlli) July 1940.

[29] Oh Yŏng-chin, “Chŏlm-ŭn yong ŭi kohyang” (“Wakaki ryū no furusato”) in Kokumin bungaku, December 1944.

[30] See Park Yuha, “Kyōbō suru hyōshō 1: Yanagi Muneyoshi to kaihōgo Kankoku no jiko kōchiku,” ch. 10 of Nashonaru aidentiti to jendā: Sōseki, bungaku, kindai (Kurein, 2007).

[31] Chang Hyŏk-chu, “Saeroun ch’ulbal.”

[32] Yi Kwang-su, “Simjŏk sinch’eje wa Chosŏn munhwa ŭi chinro” (“Shinteki shintaisei to Chōsen bunka no shinro”) in Maeil sinbo 1940, September 4-12.

[33] Kike wadatsumi no koe (1949). I here use both the 1995 edition Kike wadatsumi no koe published by Iwanami Bunkō and the 2003 edition Dainishū Kike wadatsumi no koe.

 [34] See Suzuki Yoshimitsu, “Sengo, gakutohei no shuki wa dō yomarete kita ka: ‘Kike wadatsumi no koe’ to ‘Senkan Yamato no saigo’ o megutte” in Sokoku to seinen (Nihon seinen kyōgikai, October 2003). The quoted portion is the statement of Satake Ichirō.

[35] Ibid., the lead sentence of the title page in the special collection “Gakuto shutsujin rokujū shūnen.” Sokoku to seinen (Nihon seinen kyōgikai, October 2003).

Share with a colleague:

Volume 6 | Issue 10

Article ID 2923

About the author:

The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus is a peer-reviewed publication, providing critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific and the world.

    About the author:


    Our monthly newsletter provides readers with an in-depth analysis of forces shaping the Asia-Pacific and the world.

      Since 2002

      Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus has produced critical reporting on geopolitics, economics, history, environment, and international relations.