Organized Panel Session
The legacies of Japan’s forty-year occupation of Korea continues to cast long shadows into Korea’s present, with the heated public debates prompted by its legacies seemingly only intensifying over time. Previous scholars have questioned popular ideas of colonial oppression and resistance by proposing the theoretical framework of “colonial modernity”—that spontaneous consent and cultural hegemony also defined life under Japanese rule. While further unsettling the collaboration-resistance binary that persists in public memory of the period, the papers in this panel also challenge pre-existing paradigms by offering new insights into the everyday forms of coercion, accommodation and cultural modification that shaped state-society relations in colonial Korea.
Employing methodologies from religious studies, environmental history, and the history of capitalism, these papers illuminate in stark terms the tangled contradictions of the colonizing project and its consequences for life in Korea both before and after 1945. Hajin Jun examines the colonial state’s attempted transformation of Korean Confucian rituals in order to mobilize Korean society for war and encourage spiritual allegiance to the empire. Moving from broad cultural transformations to a particularly fraught site of colonial governance, Joseph Seeley examines how colonial police commandeered local Korean youth to patrol the frozen Yalu River border. Finally Jaewoong Jeon turns to the Industrial Exhibition of 1915, arguing that the fair was designed by the colonial state to jump-start the Korean market economy and prepare it for deeper exploitation, but yielded some unexpected results.