Sunday, December 21, 2008

Zainichi Recognitions: Japan’s Korean Residents’ Ideology and Its Discontents


If you're local in the Bay Area, you may have heard, ER will host a quarterly film series through 2009, starting on January 30 @ the East Side Arts Alliance in Oakland - one of the films we hope to show is GO, which Prof.Lie mentions below. The below is just an excerpt - do check out the link to Japan Focus, though, he's one of the most prominent scholars on the zainichi in the US (and probably beyond, but we can't speak authoritatively to matters pertaining to the academy)...

P.S. if you want to keep posted on our film events & others hosted by ER, join our listserv, at

Zainichi Recognitions: Japan’s Korean Residents’ Ideology and Its Discontents
by John Lie

In Kaneshiro Kazuki’s Go (2000), the protagonist, Sugihara, opens the novel with a description of his communist, North Korean father, the Japanese colonization of Korea, and the family’s desire to visit Hawaiia vacation that requires switching their nationality from North Korean to South Korean (and shifting their membership from North Korea-affiliated Sōren to South Korea-affiliated Mindan). The stuff of the novel’s first five pages has been recounted countless times by Japanese and Zainichi writers, but no one would have imagined that it would make a best-selling novel. Reciting Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”though observing that Springsteen grew up in a poor family whereas his family is well-offSugihara sings his own refrain of “Born in Japan.” At once erudite and violent, he is highly individualistic and antiauthoritarian; he is the proverbial nail that should have been hammered in. In the 1960s and 1970s, Zainichi was all seriousness and suffering: as the pejorative slang would have put it, “dark” [kurai]. The unbearable burden of Zainichi being traumatized, Zainichi life-course and discourse. Instead, Kaneshiro’s prose and protagonist exemplify a striking mode of being cool [kakkoii] in contemporary Japanese culture.

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