Reading about secret 1950s-era North Korean motivations for supporting a massive “repatriation” of Koreans in Japan, even though most of them were from the southern half of the peninsula. So well written. So well done.
I wish I could quote this entire chapter but I’m on my cell phone, and transcribing an entire chapter is crazy.
“While overall representations of Asian societies and cultures have risen dramatically, Japan’s historically constituted Orientalist trope of an “Asia behind the times” still informs most national media markets. In this conception Japan is always in and yet always above Asia. However, the problem is that 1990s “Asia” is no longer amenable to the older image of a traditional, underdeveloped neighbor available to Japan’s civilizing mission. In fact, Japan’s return to Asia is taking place largely in response to its own national imperative, since it is Japan that faces real challenges to its (re)constructed national/cultural identity in an era of widely proliferated Asian modernities. Consequently, it is also Japan confronting an increasingly visible gap that separates a discursively constructed “backward Asia” from actually industrializing or already highly modernized neighboring Asian states.”—Iwabuchi Koichi, “Nostalgia for a (Different) Asian Modernity: Media Consumption of “Asia” in Japan,” 547-548
“Beginning in 1948, the administration of Syngman Rhee in the newly formed Republic of Korea instituted staunchly anti-communist policies that essentially prohibited repatriation for most Japan-based Koreans suspected of having joined left-wing organizations. Those who returned to the ROK - they could not yet repatriate to the [North] Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - faced interrogation, imprisionment, and possible execution. Douglas MacArthur, disagreeing with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru’s 1949 suggestion that all Koreans unable to “contribute to [Japan’s] reconstruction” be forcefully repatriated, remarked that since they were “mostly North Koreans” they “would [all] have their heads cut off” by the ROK government. The characterization “mostly North Korean” was untrue in the literal sense, given that most Japan-based Koreans came from southern Korean towns. As a reference to ideological disposition it was equally problematic: many claimed membership in both the leftist Joryeon and the conservative Association for Korean Residents (Mindan). Indeed, clearly identifying Koreans ideologically proved to be a problem. One definition provided in August 1948 by Mindan president Pak Yeol labeled a communist “anyone who does not support the present [south] Korean government.”—Mark Caprio & Yu Jia, “Occupations of Korea and Japan” from Diaspora without Homeland, Sonia Ryang & John Lie, eds. pg 31