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Pak Kyǒng-sik’s Zainichi Narrative: Imperial Japan’s Forced Mobilization of Koreans
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
Chizuko T. Allen
University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
Pak Kyǒng-sik (1922-1998), a prolific zainichi (Korean resident in Japan) scholar, was born in Korea under Japanese colonial rule but grew up in Japan after his parents relocated to a farming village in southern Japan. Following Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945 and ultimate division into the North and the South, Pak remained in Japan and joined the North Korea-aligned organization Chongryon to reclaim his Korean identity. Teaching history and geography at the Chongryon-sponsored Korea University in Tokyo from 1960, he embraced North Korea’s Marxism-inspired nationalist historical paradigm that juxtaposed Japanese imperialist aggressors with the suffering Korean people. Pak’s 1965 publication Chōsenjin kyōsei renkō no kiroku (A record of forced mobilization of Koreans) depicted imperial Japan’s exploitation of the Korean peninsula as the cause for Korean migration to Japan, which had culminated in the mobilization of Korean laborers for mining and construction industries in wartime Japan. His narrative not only reinforced the Korean nationalist historical paradigm of ethnic struggles but also successfully placed the zainichi on the forefront of the victimized Korean people, by repeatedly referring to the Japanese treatment of Koreans as kyōsei renkō (forced displacement/mobilization), the term coined to refer to the transport of Chinese POW laborers to wartime Japan. Park’s assertion was adopted by a group of zainichi and Japanese intellectuals by the 1980s, and his use of the term kyōsei renkō became the centerpiece in South Korea’s redress movement for its former laborers in wartime Japan and “comfort women” survivors in the 1990s.