Postwar Japanese women in South Korea:Between repatriation and returning home

ANU Japan and Korea Institute Seminar 

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By the Collapse of the empire of Japan, the political, economic and human forces of Japan have been cleared from Korean peninsula. However, there was a flow of Japanese who goes against it. It was a so-called Japanese women in Korea. A Japanese wives who married and lived in Korea from the prewar era, sometimes separated by ethnic problems, but most of them took over the shadow of the defeated country and chose to live in the independent former colony.

On the other hand, many Koreans returning from Japan had Japanese wives. While most of the Koreans who lived in Japan from the prewar era was mostly workers, many of them who left their families in Korea and unmarried people were seeking Japanese women. Also, since Japanese women had few Japanese men during the period of war, there was naturally many case seeking to each other. In this way, Korean men and Japanese women’s families who had lived in Japan had to choose a place of residence in either country.

With regard to these Japanese women in South Korea, especially after the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea in 1965, since the traffic of people relatively free, its existence was known in an early stage through reports and non-fiction, but academic accumulation is poor. Although there was pioneering achievement to study the life history of a Japanese women in South Korea by sociologist Kim Ueng-ryeol, the subsequent research is also mainly the description of the life history based on the experiences of interviews at the mutual aid association "Fuyo-kai" and the community living facility "Gyeongju Nazarewon". There is almost no elucidation of historical reality based on the empirical research of movement, settlement and returning home of a Japanese women in South Korea.

This presentation explores the way in which Japan's women living in South Korea, located at node of race, class and gender generated under the imperialist extension of Japan, passed through “postwar period” in South Korea, and considers the movement and settlement, returning home and sending back while tracing the political negotiation between Japan and the South Korea. From this, we can see one aspect of the postwar landscape of people’s movement and mobilization in the Japanese empire, which is distorted by the consequence of the colonial policy that involves the people of Japan and Korea colliding with the "boundary" of the nation-state.

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Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute