Japan colonization of Korea Essay Example

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Political science 12

соntеmроrаry Kоrеаn disсоursеs of ethnic identity
Сritiсаl еvаluаtion of the ехреriеnсе of Jараnеsе соlоniаlization in shарing


The colonization of Korea by Japanese in the early twentieth century had massive impact on Koreans. The colonization that officially annexed in 1910-1945 was as a result of the expanding of Japanese empire and increasing its military wing. In the beginning of the twentieth century Korea was in the wake of westernization while Japan was in the verge of military success as they defeated the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese of 1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, this made them a force to reckon in the east. The Japanese view Korea as an attractive tool for military recruitment and drive for expansion of their empire. Invasion to Korea will also help them to secure their perimeter from the west that was a major obstacle in the wellbeing of Japan (Chapman, 2008). The Chinese took care of the Tonghak uprising in 1894; this gave the Japanese the opportunity to assemble six thousand troops in Seoul to take care of Korea in case of an uprising. The war of the Chinese and Japanese went well than expected as in the Shimonoseki Treaty in 1895 the Chinese government gave Korea to the Japanese. This made it the Japanese government to garner its claim and take over Korea. However, Russia, France and Germany would not allow Japan to go ahead with this claim, this lead to war with Russia the main aim of the war Korea and with Japanese victory n 1905. This eventually led to the annexation in 1910 with Korea formalizing as a frontier of the Japanese empire.

The annex of Japanese saw the introduction of government promulgated as that clarified that all Korean land belonged to the Japanese government. This lead to a large –scale resettlement initiative by the Japanese government which oversaw 98,000 Japanese owner families settling in Korea prime lands. This made Korean land owners merely laborers in their own farms. They were actually forced to work in farms under grueling conditions. Around 724,000 Korean workers were sent to work in mainland Japan, Sakhalin and the pacific islands under the Japanese empire in mining, shipbuilding and construction industries. The Japanese introduced policies to replace Korean cultural traditions with Japanese ones with the aim of getting rid of differences between settlers and the Korean population and achieve equality. Colonial assimilation policies included changing of Korean names, the extreme use of Japanese considering it the superior language, school instruction in Japanese ethical system and the introduction of Shinto worship (Dudden, 2006). The were 503 missionary schools all over Korea by 1905 but by 1918 their were only 38 mission managed schools, this is due to the condition of survival being to harsh for Korean children to attend school.

These experiences in the Korean populace saw the rise of a massive resistance duped the March First movement that produced nation wide massive demonstration. This led made the governor general ruling the peninsula to loosen Japans grip (Shin, 2006). This saw the introduction of three national newspapers produced in vernacular and a degree of freedom of expression an assembly. Ethnic identity of the Koreans is centered on minjok traced around a mythical figure Dungun Joseon according to Shin Chae-ho, a leading nationalist. Dungun merged with Buyo of Manchuria to form the Goguryeo people. The Korean people resisted colonial rule by showing unique and great national heritage along unity. A Korean key figure during the colonial rule; Yi Kwang-su claimed` Korean are without a doubt a unitary nation in blood and culture’ this view was widely accepted by Koreans (Ministry of Culture and Tourism Republic of Korea, 2014). Japanese rule however did not wipe away Korean`s general consciousness, it armored their want to a diverse and homogenous ethnic identity.

Independence fight came to an end in August 1945 with the surrender of Japan in the Second World War. This led to a huge confusion and tumult between the Koreans this is because the peninsula was divided along the thirty-eighth parallel. After independence the peninsular was divided along ally lines with the north having a back up of the soviets and the south being ally to the Americans. Despite the joy of freedom the Koreans had undergone a traumatic era filled with torture, forced labor, sexual servitude, oppression and massacre that is still fresh to the minds of Koreans to this date (Hauser, 2003). By the end of the colonial rule the number of Koreans in Japan was around 2400000. This is because the Korean workers were mobilized to meet the labor requirements of Japan. Also, young Korean women around the age of 15 had been shipped to war fronts to curb the sexual desires of Japanese troops.

Prior to the Second World War 6the Koreans living in Japan were subjected to economic exploitation and racial discrimination but the Japanese government counted them as Japanese nationalities and were in a bid to assimilate them, they even encourage intermarriage between their people. But following the independence of Korea in 1945 the Korean lost their voting rights in Japan, the were recognized majorly as foreigners and residents in Japan. this showed that they were expected to return back to their homeland in due time. In 1947 the Japanese authorities introduced the alien registration law which considered ethnic Koreans to alien status. The nationality law dated 1950 denied the Zainichi (residents of Japan) children with Korean fathers their right to be Japanese nationals but spared those with Japanese fathers and Korean mothers. In 1952 former colonial subjects whose homeland was not recognized by Japanese were considered homeless these were mainly Koreans who were working in Japanese industries as laborers. They were also excluded from Japanese jobs; ethnic Koreans were demeaned and excluded from rights allocated to Japanese non nationals in the post war constitution. Barred from all jobs in the public and private sector, ethnic Koreans pursued job in the non formal sector engaging with many illegal dealings such alcohol production and engaging in marginal activities as scrap metal recycling and racketeering. Due to all this the ethnic Koreans around 1-1.4 million people exited Japan and the general population was around a million ethnic Koreans (Schmid, 2002). These were those who either would not afford train fare from one of the departure points or had Japanese spouses and Japanese children, others stayed in Japan in order to avoid navigating through cultural and linguistic challenges of a new environment.

Postwar ethnic Koreans formed organization which provided financial assistance and fought for ethnic rights. One of this organization a pro North Korean, pro communist and generally recognized as the General federation of resident Koreans in Japan called chongryun became the most influential (Young, 2001). Chongryun also known as Sorean loaned ethnic Koreans for their business and established Korean based school for ethnic Koreans which taught Korean language and Korea history to prepare the ethnic Koreans for an eventual return back home. The Sorean projected North Korea as a communist paradise and a home that all Koreans one day will return while contrasting with the south peninsula as a autocratic dictatorial nation with a lagging economy (McKenzie, 2005).

This highly influence the ethnic forefront of all Korea as the Korean who had highly exhibited ethnic unity were torn apart on they ally line leading to a massive war in homeland Korea. The war was started by the north who invaded the south through the thirty eighth parallel. The north part of the peninsula got support from the Chinese while the south got their help from their allies the Americans (Young, 2003). The war lasted for three year(1950-1953) leading to a massive bloodbath with approximately  three million Koreans from both sides losing their lives, around a million Chinese solders and also an estimated 54,000 American troops loosing their lives. The war left the peninsula divided into two nations that is the communist north and the western allied south. The Americans on sensing the weight of the matter referred it to the United Nations Security Council.  On July 27, 1953 the warring factions managed to sign a armistice agreeing to a 38th parallel as the demarcation line between north and south Korea. The two sides were to maintain a demilitarized zone were they would maintain constant patrol. Agreeing to a 38th parallel as the demarcation line between north and South Korea. The two sides were to maintain a demilitarized zone were they would maintain constant patrol. Agreeing to a 38th parallel as the demarcation line between north and South Korea the two sides were to maintain a demilitarized zone were they would maintain constant patrol. Agreeing to a 38th parallel as the demarcation line between north and South Korea (Pai and Timothy, 2008). The two sides were to maintain a demilitarized zone were they would maintain constant patrol. Finally the United States and the republic of Korea signed a mutual defense treaty and US troops became part of the DMZ patrols on a semi permanent basis.

The aftermath Korea was an exhausted population divided into two despite of their same ethnic background. The ethnic constitution of Korea was highly deprived as many Koreans lost their ethnic identity due to the war to which their allies had achieved their objectives such as promoting and preserving NATOs interest and defending Japan. Meanwhile the Koreans in Japan were overwhelmed trying to survive. This led to their naturalization of 233 ethnic Koreans to become Japanese nationals. Soreans viewed this as an act of ethnic betrayal as they considered being a Japanese citizen a taboo (Wibben, 2013). This is because of the experiences they had undergone under the Japanese regime and the type of both racial discrimination and economic discrimination they were suffering that period. The number of nationalized Japanese increased to around 2500 by 1965, this number did not have a steady rise because still the Japanese authorities viewed naturalized ethnic Koreans as outcasts and were still highly considered residents of Japan locally referred to as zainichi people. The numerous accounts done by Japanese rule during their duration in Japan foresaw a great hatred and animosity that clouded Korean minds to date.

The period of instability in Korea immediately after independence saw a major migration of Koreans to other state such as the United States and china. Majorly their is a major ethnic division of Koreans to other countries as they had lost value of their ethnic identity. This is because after the division of the peninsula the contention of being Korean was considered difficult to achieve (Prince, 2011). The increased animosity between south and North Korea betrayed their ethnic identity .the experiences that occurred in the Japanese colonial period were the game changers that oversaw the split of Korea. This is because the Japanese influenced highly the social system of the Koreans; they interfered with their cultural well being and also left them with scars that could not oversee them in a Seoul and Poyang in a stable state. When the Japanese first annexed Korea the aim was to turn Korean land into a commerce bureau coinciding with their large military ambitions while in their course of glory Japanese ruined the heart of a people, a people who were bound to one ethnic background a people who had oneness and in their exit they left the nation divided, a ethnic background destroyed and their hearts torn apart. In the process of colonization the Japanese delayed the democratization of Korea .this saw the ruling of North Korea turning into dictatorship while with the help of the United States and also the United Nations, South Korea held an election and Syngman Rhee was elected the first South Korean president. President Rhee implemented programs that ensured full control over his government this included turning on his initial supporters which led to the turning of democracy to authoritarian system. In 1961 South Korea faced a military coup with General Park Chung Hee, leading the military way. The Republic of Korea that is the North Korea which was formed on September 9, 1948 was with the soviet assistance and introduced socio economic reforms such as distribution of land to farmers, ender parity law and public ownership of land. However, Kim ji sung the North Korean leader, centered the rule around him and setting that he was the ultimate leader and controller of everything in North Korea. This deprived the North Koreans their rights and little unloyalty to him were accustomed to treason which is equivalent to execution.

The Koreans in Japan have had numerous accounts with the Japanese authorities as the Japanese authorities ceased to support the Korean taught schools yet the Koreans are the largest minor ethnic group n Japan. These are majorly schools affiliated to the North Korea as the ties between the Japanese and North Korea are on rocks. In 1970s a cluster of new intellectual groups encouraged he recognition of the zainichi identity, this shown when they led the anti fingering campaign .this lead to more recognition as some even sought create a Korea town in Japan (Pai, 2000). By 1980 the Japanese authorizes had started hiring ethnic Koreans to the civil service position and by 1984 the number of ethnic Koreans in medical and science field was twice that of the ethnic Japanese. This showed the recognition of ethnic Koreans in the society. The 1985 revision of Japan nationality laws saw the rise of the number of naturalized ethnic Koreans to Japanese and as years went b it became possible for ethnic Koreans to keep their koura names. The educational and employment difference between the ethnic Japanese and ethnic Korean decreased highly in the 1980s.the relief was seen in 1991 when permanent residency was granted to ethnic Koreans. This showed acceptance of ethnic Koreans to the Japanese society (Kim, 2008). Today Zainichi consider naturalization as a matter of individual choice.


The social segment of larger Korea is highly regarded to their ethnic background. Despite their migration out of Korea due to either employment opportunities were scarce and by 1980s the number of ethnic Korean living outside the peninsula was around 4 million. The large group was in china that the group that left Korea during the Japanese régime. The ethnic identity of the Koreans was influenced majorly by their colonization by Japan. The Japanese demeaned the value of ethnic oneness (Kim, 2008). The Japanese led to the division of ethnic Koreans, they led to their migration from the homeland of their ancestors to other parts of the world. They influenced the growth of a generation that was growing in the Korean culture. The colonization by Japanese was the reason why cold war between Moscow and Washington came into Korea, this eventually divided Korea and lead to the Korean War which symbolizes the breaking of an ethnic group. The ethnic identity of Koreans transverse during the Japanese regime, the 35 year period of colonization was the defining part of the ethnic identity in Korea (Jo, 2014). More so the division of the peninsula led to a break in the social composition of Korea, this was a betrayal to the same ethnic background that the Koreans had struggled to build during the fight for independence.


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