AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 633

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Session 633: Redefining Identities of Nations and Their Peoples in (Post) Cold War East Asia

Organizer: Dong-No Kim, Yonsei University, South Korea

Discussant: Dong-No Kim, Yonsei University, South Korea

Identity formation involves a multi-faceted, dynamic process, since political, economic, social, and cultural conditions continually redefine one's identity. The East Asian countries are no exception from this general trend; they have tried to (re)define their nations and peoples ever since entering the Cold War period. Two countries, China and Korea, were both divided into two parts with the inception of the Cold War period and defining identities for these new countries and peoples became the most imperative task for them. As the Cold War continued until the late 1980s, division and conflicts between the capitalist and the communist regimes intensified in East Asia. Animosity between the two camps furnished very favorable ground for defining identity as that hostile relationship provided a natural social context for the formation of national identity. Both South Korea and Japan actively exploited this external condition to form respective national solidarity and identity. South Korean political leaders were especially adept in controlling their people by resorting to various tactics of appealing to collective emotion. This is the historical context in which the presenters of this session develop their research questions regarding identity formation in East Asia; including how South Korean political groups tried to construct identities of their people by managing collective memories and emotions and political ideology; how the Japanese people have built their image of North Korea for their own identity formation; and finally, how Taiwan places itself in the recent transnational trend of pan-Asianism, found in the idea of “a return to Asia.”

The Representation of North Korea in Japanese Popular Novels
Yukie Hirata, Dokkyo University, Japan

This paper analyzes the image of North Korea as represented in Japanese popular novels after 1998. The method of representing North Korea changes little by little according to international political situations and the social atmosphere in which various representations of North Korea have been seen in Japan in recent years. I examine the process by which the representation of the North Korean image has evolved. North Korea is not only considered as the “Other” but it has also gradually been considered with reference to the Japanese national identity as a tool for reconsidering “Us.” Analyzing the image of North Korea requires discussion about the identity and nationalism of Japan with examining the three novels as follows; Sensen Fukoku (Declaration of War, 1998), Boukoku no Aegis (Aimless AEGIS, 1999)、Midnight Eagle (2000), Hantowo Deyo (Leave the Peninsula, 2005), Boukoku no Aegis (Aimless AEGIS, 1999). After 1998, the view of North Korea was represented as a tool for strengthening nationalism in Japan and had prompted a boost to Japanese national identity. However, this does not mean the image of North Korea changed completely at that time, although 1998 is widely considered to be the critical point at which it changed. I examine the images of North Korea, which calls for discussing the identity and nationalism of Japan when two “posts” like the post-colonial and the post-cold war overlapped at that time, considering the international political situation surrounding North Korea and Japan.

Discourse on Korean Women During the American Military Government Period in Korea
Ji-Yeon Lee, Yonsei University, South Korea

This study examines discourses on Korean women after liberation and the process of the right-wing feminists' discourses becoming dominant ones. Discourses on female liberation rapidly increased with the rise of movements for establishing a new nation-state in Korea after Liberation. The left and right-wing feminists significantly diverged in their discourse on female's role in society and family. From the left, independence of a woman with self-sustaining economic capacity of was emphasized as an important value and then a woman as a modern individual could fulfill her role in founding the new nation-state just a man could. On the other hand, the right claimed that women should build and maintain the modern family, which would then become the foundation to the modern state. This idea entailed liberal and enlightened women performing the important role of housewife and mother in the modern family. Though the right claimed to support the breakdown of feudal and traditional role of women, it reinforced the patriarchal ideology after Liberation in Korea. Meanwhile, the U.S. government implemented feminist policies, such as abolition of licensed prostitution, guarantee of female suffrage, etc. However, the regime favored sound and healthy women and forced the idea of the family as the desirable location for women; furthermore, it suppressed the voice of left-wing feminists and supported the activities of right-wing ones. Therefore, the discourse of the right-wing feminist groups became the dominant one in accordance with the feminist policies and partisan attitudes of the U.S. military government.

Cultural Strategy for Regulation of Collective Memory and Emotion in Postcolonial South Korea: Reconstructing the Relationship between South Korea and Japan in the 1960s
Yerim Kim, Yonsei University, South Korea

This paper analyzes the cultural regulation and reconstruction of collective memory and emotion regarding Japan in the South Korea of the 1960s. Diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan were normalized in 1965. Before and after this year, media-politics, which promoted the transformation of the collective consciousness and affect for Japan from one of ‘antagonism’ to one of ‘affinity’, began to operate at the level of popular culture. Films played an especially important role in the reorganization of popular imagination and emotion in such a socio-political atmosphere. Lots of films paid attention to the past and present between the two nations, utilizing the motifs of international marriage, transnational love or family separation. For a long time, directly displaying the landscape (cities, streets and so on) or symbols of Japan was banned, but the easing of censorship had undermined this regulation. Of course, strong censorship and control had an influence on film, but at the same time cracks and conflicts between oppressive cultural policies and the actual culture-market (including the desires and interests of both producers and consumers) were unavoidable. This article explores postcolonial cultural strategy surrounding the heritage of colonization and anticommunism in postcolonial South Korea, the anticommunist secure state.

Governing the Emotion in the Cold War Era in South Korea
Seung Hwa Joung, Yonsei University, South Korea

The modernization of Korea has been remembered as an economic miracle that was full of hope. The development was popularly represented as one sentence: "You can do it." However, it is rarely known that ‘neurosis’ was the word on everybody’s lips in the 1960's; in fact, during the 1970's the suicide rate was the highest in modern Korean history. This knowledge is rare because police statistics involving suicide rate were classified as confidential in the developing Korean state. In the context of poverty and political competition with North Korea, economic growth was considered as evidence of the superiority of one political system and ideology over another. As part of the modernization project to reconstruct the country after it had been devastated by the Korean War, the concept of "Myonglang(明朗)," referring to a combination of merriness and clarity, was promoted. In contrast, despair, melancholy and a pessimistic mood were recognized as part of a decadent trend, becoming associated with censorship and oppression. With the conception that emotion is managed and controlled as an object to be policed, this research seeks to analyze the process and discourses related to the governing of emotion during the modernization era in South Korea. For this purpose, national reconstruction campaigns, including the 'smile' campaign, the Myonglang discourses and campaigns involving cultural policies, will be investigated. The impacts of psychological objectives, promoted as third world modernization strategies by the US Government, along with discourse on mental hygiene will be analyzed.

Return to Asia, or the Burden of History? : On the Impossibility of Taiwan in the Recent Transnational Discursive Formation of Asia
Wei-chi Chen, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

This paper aims at historicizing the idea of a return to Asia, the movement’s desire and current discourse, with a particular interest in its position in the national/postcolonial cultural-political reconfiguration in contemporary Taiwan. In fact this is part of a transnational discursive formation taking the efforts in reevaluating domestically the local national histories in several East Asian countries involved, mainly Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and China, and transnationally the history of Asia as a meaningful historic space. Apparently, history and space respectively matter in this new intellectual tendency. This new Pan-Asianism attacks imperialism together with capitalism, in its historical and contemporary forms, as ways in which a critically refixed Asia serves as the site of decolonization. However, concealment-in-revealing as we find the impossibility of Taiwan in the newly articulated Pan-Asianism for it presents a strand of history-revisionism within which there is no place reserved for Taiwan. This situation of impossibility of Taiwan in Pan-Asianism has its historical origins at which in a state of burden-of-history Taiwan either was treated a geo-strategic position haunted by the past imperialism (Japan), the present global empire (US), and the “peaceful rising” socialist/capitalist state (China), or was merely bypassed or subsumed into either one of the mentioned neighbor regional polities. This paper will map out the traces in this specific spatial history of the present as found in the idea of return to Asia, and conclude with that it is the historical impossibility of Taiwan in the Pan-Asianism that makes this idea ambiguous if not problematic.