Friday, February 27, 1998

Korea-Japan Relation Saga Index

Because of the popularity of this series, here is the full index.

Part I: Overview
Part II: Korea and Japan in Pre-Modern Times
Part III: Japan's Occupation of Korea during World War II
Part IV: Korea and Japan after World War II
Part V: How Contemporary Korean Nationalism Shapes Korea's Attitude Toward Japan Today

Currently, the most robust discussion has been occurring Part III. However, please read the entire series for the whole context.

Other posts relevant to the past history Korea and Japan:

Japanese Defense Minister Denies the Existence of Comfort Women
A Look into Imperial Japan’s Rule over Korea
Japan Pays 99 Yen Pension to Former Forced Laborers, and the Godfather offer that Japan should make.
Korean and Japanese Scholars Issue Joint Statement on History
Japanese Prime Minister Apologizes for the Colonial Rule
A Look Into the House of Sharing, the Memorial for Comfort Women
Japanese Finance Minister Denies the Legality of War Criminal Conviction
Story from a Former Comfort Woman
Lies by Imperial Japan Apologists


  1. I came here to address this comment you made comparing Korea and Hawaii. I tried to find an appropriate post to fit it into, but couldn't find one.

    The Korean wrote:
    If you want to be precise about it, sure — I will accept your words on face value that you have no sympathy on Imperial Japan. But that statement above does display a shocking lack of moral sensitivity.

    Far more Koreans died as a result of Japan’s annexation than Hawaiians as a result of the U.S.’s annexation. Far more Koreans were brutally exploited as a result of Japan’s annexation than Hawaiians as a result of the U.S.’s annexation. The manner of those deaths and exploitations evinces a brutality that only a few handful of events in human history match.

    It is always a dicey business to compare the relative lows of the low points of human history. But as far as Korea and Hawaii, there should be no contest. This is not to diminish what happened at Hawaii. Rather, this is a straightforward observation that anyone with a functioning moral compass makes: there is nothing more important than human life and dignity. And the debasement of human life and dignity that imperial Japan caused upon Korea occurred at a much great extent than the same that U.S. caused upon Hawaii.

    Anyone with a functioning moral compass is able to form a moral hierarchy. Everyone knows stealing is bad, but not as bad as murder. Here, you put on the same level two things that clearly belong to different levels. If you equated a thief and a murderer, it is not very surprising that people might conclude you have an undue sympathy for a murderer. That’s not 100 percent correct, but it should not be a surprise.

    With all due respect, I think you may be wrong about this. Frogmouth is on the right track when he asks if the American annexation of Hawaii really is acceptable.

    It is not clear how many Koreans died as a direct or indirect result of Japanese takeover, and neither is it clear how many native Hawaiians died as a result of the American takeover.

    What is known is that both sovereign kingdoms were lost when a more powerful force decided to take them over for strategic gain. Economically speaking, the Americans raped this land and the Native Hawaiians still pay the price. There was cultural genocide much like the Japanese assimilation policies of Korea.

    The big difference is that Korea was made independent again (though divided) and Hawaii never was. There is a movement to change that, and there are radicals that declare Hawaiian statehood to be bogus, much like our precious Samil Undong.

    I do not say this to downplay Imperial Japan's nefarious acts in Korea, but to suggest that it is best not to rank the two. Both were very bad acts, and there are serious repercussions even today.

    Anyone who rationalizes the Japanese annexation of Korea by saying it was no different from the American annexation of Hawaii is probably utterly ignorant of the issues involved in Hawaii. And probably ignorant of the issues in Korea as well.

    For someone who starts looking into modern Hawaiian history, it becomes clear that the Korea-Hawaii comparison is apt. But only because they were both shi++y ways for a people to be treated.

  2. I have to agree with Kushibo. It is well documented that the Korean population before Japanese occupation numbered only 8.9 million people. Before the Japanese, the Chosonn people didn't document their own #s very well.

    From 8.9 million, the population doubled to over 22.2 million people when the Japanese left the peninsula in 1945.

    So to say that the Japanese did nothing but kill people and the population degrading is a flat out lie.

  3. From Britannia online (

    [[[ North Korea’s population grew fairly rapidly after the Korean War, more than doubling in size between 1953 and 1993. Although the rate of population increase began slowing in the late 20th century, it is nearly twice that of South Korea. ]]]

    The rate of population increase in NK was nearlly twice??? Impressive...

    If we accept Benelliman reasoning, this must be a crucial evidence that allegedly the most horrible and oppressive regime on earth, North Korea had been actually far better place to live than South korea (at least untill early 1990s).

  4. The single biggest factor in increased life expectancy from the late 19th century onward is decreased infant and child mortality as a result of Western medicine.

    However, it was not the Japanese that introduced Western medicine, it was Christian missionaries, who were tasked by the royal government with setting up hospitals.

    Even if Japan had not taken over, this would in all likelihood have continued, perhaps even at a faster pace, since Koreans would have had control of Korean coffers and resource development would not have been geared toward providing food and materials for the Japanese home islands.

    The late Chosŏn dynasty was utterly mismanaged, but that trajectory had changed significantly before the Japanese had taken over (in no small part thanks to certain positive Japanese influences). The military takeover of Korea by Imperial Japan was not only unnecessary, it stunted progress.

  5. I forgot to add...

    The single biggest factor in increased life expectancy from the late 19th century onward is decreased infant and child mortality as a result of Western medicine, which also led to an corresponding increase in population growth since fertility was not curbed until the 1960s.

    The large population growth can mean many things, but it does not mean there was no abuse of the local population by the authorities (and that applies both to colonial Imperial Japanese military rule and post-war military rule).

  6. Kushibo,

    The fact that Korea regained its independence doesn't make Japan any better b/c as we all know it was the Allies who made Japan give up its occupied territories.

    As for the US, the annexation was actually the request of the white residents in Hawaii who had taken arms and thrown out the Hawaiian monarchy. Morgan Report strongly criticized the interests in Hawaii and the US for their unjust acts up to that point, and the President Cleveland rejected annexation. Later on the US government reluctantly annexed Hawaii because the white inhabitants refused to put down their arms unless the islands would become a territory or a state of the US.

    What you wrote regarding death and population is completely laughable.

    It is clear from the accounts regarding Hawaii's annexation that any deaths were battle-related (including whites on both sides of the aisle). The US government/police/marines/whatever-u-name-it did not kill/massacre/exploit Hawaiians as the Japanese did the Koreans. It's very conceited and plainly stupid to compare Japan's war crimes & exploitative policies often likened to the Holocaust to something of this scale.

    African populations grew dramatically during European colonial rule, but that does not deny the fact that many Africans were killed and had to suffer tremendously in material, cultural, and spiritual ways. Western medicine was being brought over to Korea before and during the Japanese occupation. Korea's population growth was inevitable and doesn't mean anything for Japan's case. (And after gaining independence, the population bombs completely sucked out any economic progress and caused perpetual poverty in these failed African states.)

    You're trying to confuse the actors, which, in Hawaii's case, was definitely not the US federal government. It's like that retarded Japanese' arguing in Wikipedia that the war crimes committed by the Vichy government are French war crimes, and therefore the war crimes committed by Koreans in Japanese army should be described as Korean war crimes.

    As for the poor state of Korea before the occupation, wouldn't you agree that the Japanese invasions during late 16th century was the cause? Had the Japanese not caused 2 million deaths and 60% reduction of arable lands, Korea should have maintained its economic, scientific, and cultural advantage over Japan until now. It's hard not to imagine otherwise.

    What allowed Japan its "industrious" capacity (different from "industrial") after more than a century of warfare were the abducted Korean artisans.

  7. "What allowed Japan its "industrious" capacity (different from "industrial") after more than a century of warfare were the abducted Korean artisans."


  8. Korea hates japan because of history..
    Korea hates japan because japan's far BETTER than them.Accept it or not.

  9. ...

    You seem to suggest that the Japanese are racially superior to the Koreans & Japan was "far better than" Korea all throughout history.

    "Accept it or not," Korea was technologically and culturally superior to Japan until the mid-19th century & the Japanese court continued to invite Korean scholars on important state occasions until then.

    Just don't try to overlook the Koreans' historical concerns by characterizing them as mad hatred and jealousy for Japan. (I've met a Korean guy who thinks Korea's economy is bigger than Japan.)

    I don't get how you would come to that conclusion if you knew anything at all about the annexation. Plus, Japan is a big country. It's 3x bigger than S. Korea in terms of population & land size. What would you expect? Koreans would be somehow 3x smarter or 3x as productive?

  10. dokebi,

    Check out the girl's blog. She is obviously distraught over breaking up with a Korean guy and is just lashing out. Not worth responding to.

  11. Koreans hate Japanese because of the atrocities commited during the occupation and Japan's continuing attempts to white wash history.

    During the occupation, Japanese committed unspeakable acts (read up on comfort women and medical testing on Korean subjects), tried to erase Korean culture (using Korean language in Korea was illegal, Koreans were given Japanese names and Japanese government destroyed national artifacts amd landmarks to destroy dignity and spirit of the occupied Koreans).

    Furthermore, since the end of WWII, Japanese government has continuously tried to white wash history. Their history text books that discuss WWII do not mention Japan's atrocities at all. They only talk about getting nuked by U.S. Unlike Germany, Japan refuses to learn from history and actually pretends as if they've done no wrong (Japanese government likes to paint themselves as the victims that were opprssed by U.S., rather than actual oppressors who committed criminal acts in much of Asia). Because Japanese government does not teach history as it happened, many young Japanese do not even know that Japan did bad things during Korean occupation. Also, every few years when Japanese public school text books get white washed even more, the tension between Japan and Korea esclates because it's not about just what happened in the past. On goingn behavior of the Japanese government shows no remorse and actually continues to add insult to injury by trying to white wash history.

    By the way, Japanese government has not apologized for any of the atrocities they've committed - not even to those comfort women.

  12. Koreans are upset at unrueling Japanese who never apologize.

  13. Yulee & Kate,

    Actually, the Japanese emperor and prime ministers did apologize. See part IV for that.

  14. Japanese really hindred Koreans. Also called the forgotten war. I dont know whant u guys are talking abt, but i lost my greatgrand father to the japanese occupation. they tortured him and killed him. they were even represented as a country, that was def shown in the olympics when a korean runner ran for Japan.

    i am half korean and jewish. believe me i understand too well of exterminating a race.

  15. The original inhabitants of the Japanese islands are a people called the "Ainu". they are smaller in statute and darker skinned. this is why Koreans often refer to the Japanese as monkey's.

    For more information go to this link.

    or just google Japanese Roots by Jared Diamond. He is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University. I thought that his book "Guns, Germs and Steel" was far too deterministic, but he is neither Korean nor Japanese. He raises an objective argument.

    The Japanese we are familiar with are Korean descendants. It was not one mass migration but a scattered wave of migration. 400 B.C is when rice paddy agriculture was brought with Korean immigrants.

  16. To all the Japanese-Americans who are reading this, the majority of the Korean-Americans have no animosity towards you. My Japanese friends even acknowledge this and I know that there is some trepidation when they are surrounded by Koreans.

    We just want the truth, being lied to is insulting. Especially when there are countless personal, well documented accounts of Japanese atrocities.

    The Americans admitted their mistake for putting Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WW2. The German's put up holocaust memorials in Berlin, and kept concentration camps intact to show the world there mistakes.

    This inveterate hatred of the Japanese will never go away until there is a sincere apology.

    And as far as Korean attitudes towards Japanese are concerned, there are plenty of Japanese tourists and students in Seoul. And I can assure you that not once have I ever heard a derogatory comment uttered by a Korean once you left their presence.

    I have no idea about how Koreans are treated in Japan.

  17. About the statement:
    «The single biggest factor in increased life expectancy from the late 19th century onward is decreased infant and child mortality as a result of Western medicine, which also led to an corresponding increase in population growth since fertility was not curbed until the 1960s.»

    And the statement on North Korea increase in population being so important...
    I will be supporting the sarcastic argument Minue used as that must be a great place to live then... I do this just so that people must be VERY CAREFUL when using arguments like this!

    I must uncover a bias in the statement
    «From 8.9 million, the population doubled to over 22.2 million people when the Japanese left the peninsula in 1945.
    So to say that the Japanese did nothing but kill people and the population degrading is a flat out lie.» using the info on the other quotes above.

    Imagine countries A and B, at a time with the same population. If in coutry A, 100.000 babies are born and in country B 10.000 babies are born, one can say country A has more natality overall. But if 1000 babies die (up to 1 year) in country A and 40 babies die on country B, child mortality rate in country A will be 1% (terrible) but in country B will be 0,4% (very good).
    This means, in terms of health significance that country A has overall very bad numbers despite population growing (potencially) far more than in country A - this happened in China until the last century for example!

    So one should not extrapolate that the population increased so much because of decreasing child mortality - it may have been a factor, bur it is not determinant.
    Child mortality rate helps estabilishing the level of health care development of a country, but population increase does not, so Korean doubling in population does not mean proportional increase in health care conditions... moreover, this is considering there is no war, and at that time health care development could have been stunned by it, instead of stimulated by it. There is evidence of faster decrease in child mortality AFTER independence of Korea.

    I am an asian culture and history lover overall, Japanese's in particular, but I am the first to admit that I am ashamed to be part of human kind any time a country believes that they can just incarcerate other people's freedom and use them as they want - and I'm portuguese, very proud of my country's history, very ashamed of the slavery policies that endured until the 70's...

  18. Just wanted to give my perspective as a Native American (Apache/Navajo) that lives in Japan...

    For the most part, most of my Korean friends actually like Japan/Japanese but occasionally when drinking, they bring along some crazed nationalistic Korean who spoils the drinking fun by constantly pointing out all the atrocities committed by Japan against the Korean people, how the Japanese are really racially Korean, and how the Japanese have never apologized. Some even go into the whole "Corea" debate, saying that the Japanese changed the spelling to one with a "K" because it comes after "J" in the alphabet. Seriously, even if true, does this really affect you? There are plenty of other countries with names that come after "J." Would you rather it be C-pop and C-Girls? Let it go...

    1.) The Japanese military committed some horrible acts but I haven't met a single Japanese that was unaware of what generally happened and sad that it did. Hating modern Japanese for what was done by their military, before you or they were born, is ridiculous. Hell, I'd be in serious trouble if I was viewed in the same light by Japanese, living in their country. Look, what went down sucks but Korea and it's language/culture/etc is back in the hands of Koreans, which is alot more than I can say of my own people. Tip: reaching into history to hate people based on their nationality is not going to get you laid...BY ANYONE.

    2.) Japanese are racially Korean? Latest reports I read show Native Americans, Japanese, Koreans all share the same DNA roots from Mongolia. So no, Japanese are not Korean, they're Mongolian, just like you and me. Are you also aware that race has no biological definition? Though I come across people that make me question it daily, science also says we're all one species of human...regardless of whatever race label you want to give people.

    3.) Japan has apologized, numerous times. Japan still gives aid and support to South Korea to this day and is one of South Koreas best allies in the situation with North Korea. If you're still not satisfied with the Japanese government, take it up with your government and stop acting like all Japanese have it out for you.

    I'm not saying we should ever be ignorant to any part of human history but just like anyone, we should focus on the the positive things in life and the future. Living a life of hate or constantly bringing up reasons to hate from the past will not change anything or do anyone any good.


    Let's move on please.

  20. Why do Koreans hate Japanese? I think it will be quite obvious if you take a look at the materials Japan teaches its schools. It's full of lies, covering and distorting the truth of what really went on between Korrea and Japan when Japan took over. Shame on them! It's like denying that united states ever had slavery.

  21. Why do a child must pay for the follies of her parent?

    Yes, Imperialism of Japan did inflict sufferings and pain to many countries (yes, not just Korea) for the benefit of growth of Imperial Japan.

    However, knowing fully well of human nature, most of colonized countries, if they had the capacity and the stability of government to industrialize, would had taken on the role of occupiers.

    It's just the natural flow of how the world progress. The strong dominates the weak.

    For Koreans to dwell negatively on this very tragic part of the history won't contribute to the growth of the country what so ever. Yes, it is imperative for us to remember what our ancestors had to endure to protect Korea but it's time for us to wrap this scar with a fresh layer of gauze and focus no resolving more important issues.

    Most of well educated and well informed people in Japan do know what Japan had done and do not formulate any stereotypes but view and judge a person based on his or her merit or action. This,of course, applies to any parts of world. Like here in America, uneducated people categorize a certain group of people based on a very little piece of information.

    To thrive in this globalization era, Korea must learn to abandon any of these grudges and move forward.

    To do this, we must utilize culture and art. Collaborative art projects will harmoniously bring the two countries under celebrating the true beauty of humanity.

    That's just my thought on this very polarized topic...

    -Korean girl living in NYC.

  22. ....and this is why Lee is an awesome human being. <3

  23. korean hate japanese because ANTI-JAPANESE EDUCATION IN South korea !

  24. Lee, Chokonen, with all due respect, can Koreans afford to just 'let go' of the past, when the Japanese government is doing its best to make its people - and as many others as possible - forget the past? And devlet sirri, surely your statement is a joke? It's so stupid and one-sided it cannot be anything else.

  25. We're saying let go of the grudge and stop dwelling on it....which is different than ignoring history. Of course young Koreans should know what happened but that doesn't mean that Koreans born today should grow up anti-Japan/Japanese because of what happened generations before they were born. There are plenty of stupid things that can paint Japan as anti-Korea but then there are many positive things Japan does in/with Korea that are so easily overlooked. It's a complex relationship that can't be painted in black or white.

    That being said, I live in Japan and believe me, the J-gov and populace in general have their heads in the sand and are so inward looking about so many things that it's no surprise that the country is really starting to suffer. No doubt things here need to change (and they are....very slowly) but besides calling the J-gov out on specific idiocy when it happens, nothing more can be done externally. Harping on "The Japanese" or harboring resentment for Japanese isn't going to do anything but prevent that progress. It's seen as "ANTI-JAPANESE" and then the idiots over here entrench themselves in the same fashion. K-pop and K-drama have never been more popular in Japan than as of late so while there will always be ignorant haters, things are at least headed in the right direction.

    Anyhow, think about the recent trend of outward looking Korean companies who are finding global success where the inward looking inept Japanese (former global leading) companies are struggling to survive, let alone complete.

  26. In my opinion, the fact that korean hate japanese is small part of whole korean.
    It is the fact that Japan invaded the territory of korea and colonialized korea.
    but the words korean hate japanese is stereotype.
    there are lots of people who show a favorable attitude to japanese.
    In my conclusion, there are not korean who hate japanese but there are lots of korean who hate history fact.

  27. I'm French and I've lived in Korea for a while. I haven't noticed any hatred against japanese while I was living there. In fact, most if not all my colleagues were working actively with japanese companies. Colleagues of my age (early thirties) were all very confortable with the idea of working in japan. So I think that mostly older Koreans hate japan/japanese. Young Koreans don't really give a s***.


Comments are not available on posts older than 60 days.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...