Though socially avoided, marriages between Japanese and Koreans were not unusual in the 1930s and 1940s. It was even ideologically supported by the Japanese Empire to assimilate its Korean colonial subjects. Interracial marriages between Korean men and Japanese women were also facilitated by the socio-demographic realities in Japan after the Second Sino-Japanese War: as more Japanese men left for battlefields, more Korean men were brought to Japan to work for factories, mines, and other wartime industries. In this deficit of Japanese males, some Japanese women chose to marry Korean men who were around. With the end of the Pacific War, most Korean husbands returned to Korea, and many Japanese wives followed them to Korea. Though the great majority returned to Japan after the 1965 diplomatic normalization between Japan and Korea, over a thousand stayed in Korea for various reasons including being refused by their Japanese family members in Japan. Though most of them have passed away by now, some of their life histories can be retrieved from numerous media reports and documentaries. Typically, having lived in poverty, family violence, and racial hostilities, most of these old women show their ‘internationalist’ goodwill to contribute to the welfare of their adopted home and promote peace between the two peoples of Japan and Korea. Focusing on the turning points in their life histories, this paper explores the process of their developing such ‘internationalist’ wishes.
Changzoo Song, University of Auckland, New Zealand
About the Presenter(s)
Dr Changzoo Song is Senior Lecturer in Asian/Korean Studies at the University of Auckland. His interest includes diasporic identities, diaspora-homeland relations, ethno-nationalism, and diasporic engagement policy in the Korean context.
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