Colonialism In Korea

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Starting from the forced opening of ports induced by the Kangwha treaty with Japan in 1876, Korea entered a period of gradual decline until, from a protectorate in 1905, it became a colony of the Japanese empire in 1910. Many consider these events as the kick-starters of modernization in the peninsula, which poses great conflicts in the historiography of the peninsula. Indeed, if modernization in itself is always looked upon with great positiveness, imputing its inception to Japan implies some sort of legitimization for said colonization, as if one might have to be grateful, when this period is universally disavowed. As might be, these developments are either considered as not worth mentioning, or negated and regarded as a parenthesis in the…show more content…
The Japanese administration vastly enhanced the infrastructures (mainly setting up railroads and communications) to assist an intense industrialization and the accaparement of resources to the benefit of the metropole. Core society was equally profoundly modified, as the interference of Japan created new social classes, introduced new cultural concepts and ideas, and induced large population movements from rural areas to industrialized cities. The idea of minjok is especially interesting as it is the first conceptualization of the Korean people as a unified ethnic race and is still used today is nationalist discourse.
Now, as Bruce Cummings' The legacy of Japanese Colonialism in Korea states, beyond the obvious materialistic developments, this period had a great influence on the workings of the state apparatus in itself, and this well after liberation. Starting with the obvious, all the politicians, from the North or the South, that shaped the country from the liberation onwards are tied in one way or another to the Japanese era – Kim Il Sung comes from the resistance movements in Manchuria, Syngmann Rhee was an anti-Japanese exile, Park Chung-Hee was an officer in the Japanese Kwantung army,
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But Park Chung-Hee was an officer in the Japanese Kwantung army, and, as a product of his times, his use of a really strong state allowing to foster successful economic growth is precisely modeled on the Japanese way of doing (“The Japanese in both Korea and Taiwan (…) relied on the national police as the key element of their ruling apparatus” - Park founded the KCIA). It might also be worth noting that the current president of South Korea is the daughter of Park Chang-Hee, and that her political background started quite early as she more or less replaced her mother as first lady after her assassination in

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