Panel 3: Japan and Korea: Past and future

Abstract

 

1. gJapan and Korea, Mutual Language Learning in 18-19th Centuriesh

Yi, Kang-Min ( N), Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea <ikangmin@hanyang.ac.kr>

 

Japan and Korea, being geographically neighboring to each other, were required to learn each otherfs language. Japanese education in Korea was authorized by the central government, while Korean education in Japan was controlled by Tsushima(n) local government. In this presentation, I examine the content of the textbooks used in

language learning in the 18-19th centuries and how those textbooks were used.

 

 

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3. gContests of Power: Modes of Association inside the Factoriesh

Janice Kim, Department of History, York University

 

            If ever thumbing through the newspaper headlines of colonial Korea (1910-1945), readers would be struck by the sheer frequency of labor strikes.  In 1921, 36 strikes with 3,403 participants surfaced; by 1931, 201 strikes, involving 17,114 workers arose.  In the first twenty years of Japanese rule, industrial capitalism, and its counterpart, labor activism, emerged and expanded.  Mainly used as evidence for imperialist and capitalist wrongdoings, histories of colonial factory women abruptly end in the late 1930s, when repressive wartime policies suppressed labor activism.  Thus, for historians, colonial workers – especially women and children – have symbolized the subjugation of class and nation.

            While in interwar Korea the numbers of protests rose to conspicuous heights, for those seeking reinforcement for traditional models of working class formation, the outcome of the colonial labor movement would be somewhat disappointing.  Like men, women engaged in labor demonstrations but their contests of power were for neither class nor nation.  In contrast to essentializing views that depict the colonial labor force as an anti-imperial, anti-capitalist front, this paper argues workersf motivations were much more diverse.  Men and women in varying industries fought for historically-, spatially- and culturally-specific interests.  Like skilled male workers in heavy industries, women workers of the cotton textile and rubber industries organized city-wide general strikes that halted production for months.  Similarly, knitting operatives assembled localized boycotts whereas silk workers, spatially dispersed, struck cyclically.  Generally, female factory operatives formed associations that were regionally and industrially specific, but in times of great distress or economic hardship, workers discarded these alliances.  Married women who dominated the rubber industry, for example, sought protection from younger competition, often seeking exclusive interests.  A detailed evaluation of organized labor activities as well as workersf standards of skill, practices of power and their modes of association indicates that women workers behaved in case-specific manners that departed greatly from the patriotic or working class solidarity depicted by historians.

Female factory workersf contests of power were neither for the working class nor for the nation.  Familial needs, local ties, workshop norms and factory alliances were more pervasive reasons for action.  Working womenfs avenues of empowerment were not limited to trade unionism or general demonstration.  Daily, women reconfigured the flows of power inside factories.  Through their varied and fluid alliances with each other and with superiors, they were able to improve their individual positions in the workshops and in the dormitories.  As collectives, mill girls kept the balance of power inside the factories in constant flux through their everyday acts of calculated accommodation, false compliance, deception, resistance, and outright defiance.  Nonetheless, a detailed review of womenfs procedures of power and modes of association showed that strikes were mere extensions of everyday acts of resistance performed on factory grounds.  Few were revolutionary, but their methods of association inside and outside the factories confirm that ordinary women of twentieth-century Korea were political and thus powerful.