Organizer: Gi-Wook Shin, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: Bruce Cumings, Northwestern University
Discussants: Bruce Cumings, Northwestern University; Chung-shin Park, Oklahoma State University
This panel collectively seeks to show the complexity of Japanese colonial rule in Korea by reexamining the conventional view that portrays Japanese imperialism in terms of repression and resistance. While no one can deny such aspect, this panel considers it only part of the entire story. This panel as a result proposes to reveal a much more complicated, often self-contradictory, nature of Japanese rule by examining colonial legal framework along with rural and labor policy in Korea.
Lee and Kim laid the groundwork to understand the complex nature of Japanese rule by examining the tension-ridden legality of Japanese colonialism in Korea. Unlike the conventional view, colonial legal framework was not always coherent or consistent; instead it contained often self-contradictory elements by simultaneously trying to create an image of "opposite other" among the colonial population, while trying to assimilate them into the Japanese empire.
Shin examines colonial rural policy in 1930s Korea with a focus on how the colonial government tried to accommodate rural discontent and crisis into institutionalized framework. While repressing radical elements of colonial society, the colonial government simultaneously tried to incorporate the colonial population into a legal, institutionalized framework to maintain the empire. Shin conceptualizes such Japanese effort as "corporatist" and compares it with other versions of corporatist regimes found in Europe and Latin America.
Finally, Park examines colonial labor policy in the 1920s and 1930s with a focus on the factory law debates that involved many sectors of society as well as the colonial government. Criticizing the conventional view that Korean workers during the colonial period had no legal protection or channels for grievances, she shows how the colonial regime attempted to accommodate labor discontent into legal framework.
Bruce Cumings, a prominent Korean specialist, and Chung-Shin Park, a well-known scholar for his study of Korean Christianity, will discuss the panel. The panel as a whole is truly interdisciplinary (involving law, sociology, history, and political science) and will enhance our understanding of Japanese colonialism in Korea.
Law, Nation, and Imperialism in Colonial Korea
Chulwoo Lee, Seoul National University; Chang-Rok Kim, Pusan National University
This paper seeks to highlight the ideological manifestations of Japanese colonial rule with reference to Japanese legal policy towards Korea. As in any other colonialism, the Japanese colonial enterprise was part and parcel of the process of making the national self-identity of the ruling nation, and served that process by creating the image of the colonized an "opposite other" to the self-image of the colonizer. The Japanese notion of "civilization and enlightenment" (bunmei kaika) as Japan's late achievement along the universal trajectory of historical development rationalized Japan's occupation of its East Asian colonies and accounted for the distinction between itself and its colonial population.
On the other hand, the Japanese discourse of national self-definition involved a consciousness of the Asian provenance of the Japanese nation and cultural-national commonalties with the colonial populations. Hence strong emphasis was laid upon the necessity and viability of assimilating the colonial subjects. These two sides of Japanese colonial discourse, however, were in constant conflict, while simultaneously supplementing each other. This produced instability in the discursive conditions of Japanese legal policy towards Korea, which was a junction between ideology and political practice in Japanese rule.
This paper discusses such features of Japanese colonial discourse with reference to the debate concerning the application of the constitution to Korea and Taiwan and to a number of examples of discriminatory legal devices on the one hand and of means to enforce cultural assimilation on the other. While illuminating the ideological features of Japanese imperialism, this paper addresses the places of major legal devices and governmental measures on the two fundamental axes of ruling practice in Japanese colonialism-state integration and cultural integration-and discusses the sociological implications of those means of governance.
Colonialism and Corporatism: Japanese Rural Policy in 1930s Korea
Gi-Wook Shin, University of California, Los Angeles
This paper examines the Japanese rural policy in 1930s Korea that was pursued to accommodate rural discontent and unrest into institutionalized framework. In particular, it investigates two major rural policies; (1) promulgation of the 1932 Tenancy Arbitration Ordinance and the 1934 Agricultural Lands Ordinance; and (2) initiation of the Rural Revitalization Campaign since 1932.
While the colonial government was engaged in colonial industrialization in the 1930s, it did not ignore the countryside. Instead the colonial government substantially increased its involvement in rural affairs, and failure to consider this rural aspect neglects an important part of colonial rule. Late 1920s and early 1930s Korea showed rural crisis that could threaten the social basis of colonial rule. Tenant-landlord conflict was increasingly intensified throughout the 1920s, and late 1920s agricultural depression hit rural society and economy hard. Faced with such crisis, the colonial government began to shift its early policy of pro-landlordism and non-intervention in rural conflict in favor of rural stability and a more direct state intervention in rural affairs. Both legislation and campaign were the logical outcomes of such colonial policy concern and change toward the rural situation.
I conceptualize such colonial policy as a form of corporatism since both legislation and campaign was a state response to increased class conflict and lack of landlord hegemony in rural villages. Unlike the pluralist corporatism of Western Europe, however, it was in the form of authoritarian corporatism where the state dictated over society, as in Latin America. This conceptualization can show limits of a totalitarian model of Japanese colonialism, previously popular, and thus can reveal distinctive and complex features of the Japanese version in contrast to Western colonialism.
The Factory Law Debates in Colonial Korea
Soon Won Park, University of Maryland, College Park
This paper examines the labor-related policymaking process in colonial Korea with a focus on factory law debates during the interwar period (1921-1937). Unlike the conventional view that supposes Korean workers during the colonial period had no legal protection or channels for grievances, this paper argues that the colonial regime had a keen concern with labor problems and attempted to accommodate labor discontent into a legal framework.
After the March First Movement of 1919, social stability in both rural and urban areas became an important policy issue and, as a result, the colonial government established a new office known as the Society Section (Sahoekwa) under the Internal Affairs Bureau (Naemukuk) in 1921. The next year, based on the section's research and survey results on the labor situation in the factories and mines, the government stipulated the Factory Control Regulation (Kongjang ch'uich'e kyuchóng) for factories hiring more than 10 full-time employees, applying to Kyónggi province. Such enactment triggered a series of debates on further expansion of this regulation into a full-scale nationwide factory law. The debates continued throughout the 1920s with a peak in the early 1930s until the war mobilization years of the late 1930s, when labor-management cooperation in the name of industrial patriotism (Sanpo movement) was stressed.
Examination of the debates can reveal the way and the extent to which business groups (both in Korea and Japan), Korean journalism, Korean moderate nationalists, some progressive social organizations like Sin'ganhoe, and workers' labor unions played roles in shaping labor policymaking process in colonial society. This examination can also reveal the complexity of Japanese colonial rule in Korea.