독서/Cold War2019. 3. 4. 19:26

Repatriation ship prepares to depart Niigata Port. (Source: https://apjjf.org/2011/9/22/Tessa-Morris-Suzuki/3541/article.html)

In mid-December 1959, a group of Korean residents in Japan gathered in the port city Niigata from every corner of the Japanese Archipelago, with the uncertain hope of returning to the Socialist Fatherland and cherishing the better life, both of which were not easily imagined. Although 976 in number, the group was nor homogenous, neither easy to understand; in addition to Korean adults who could not speak Korean very well, there were Japanese, especially mothers and wives, students, and infants inside the crowd (12). Before getting aboard a ship, they were bureaucratically asked “[d]o you really wish to leave Japan and live the rest of your life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea?”

Meanwhile, their imminent journey, or ‘exodus,’ to North Korea had to be processed in the humanitarian framework, mostly engineered by complicated interactions of different actors: not only Japanese entities such as the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross Society (est. 1877), and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), but also Cold War superpowers like the U.S. and the Soviet Union altogether participated in and conspired with this massive project (199-200). A number of questions could be raised against the background of this untold exodus of Korean residents in Japan: Who were those who chose an exodus from Japan to North Korea? What were the origins of the Korean residents in Japan? Why did they want to return to their political homeland? Why did this kind of exodus have to happen in the late 1950s? Why were such powerful actors as the U.S. and the Soviet Union involved in the event? How did returnees continue living on North Korean soil? After all, what was it about (12-3)?

Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War (2007) is a pioneering work which exclusively deals with the aforementioned repatriation of Koreans in the late 1950s, based on multinational materials well as oral testimonies. As a renowned scholar of Japan and Asia, Tessa Morris-Suzuki, armed with expertise on the region, polyglotism in utilizing archival sources, and passion to visit relevant places including the North Korean capital, attempts to question the fates of “not only the lives of the 93,340 returnees,” but also those of “the hundreds of thousands of relatives and friends whom they left behind,” weaving representative cases of those accounts into a compelling as well as intriguing book. It is largely known that the author is one of the most critical and prolific scholars in the field, attempting to criticize as well as transcend what is known as ‘modern’ and an ‘modern’ view of the past. In this regard, the same author’s 2000 Henkyo kara nagameru [A View from the Frontier] lucidly reveals her academic interests on reconstructing the lively and vibrant exchanges among borderlines and peripheries where non-mainstream and tribal people such as Ainu, Nivkh, Uilta, and Manchu interacted and intermingled across the Sea of Okhotsk.

In terms of structure, Exodus to North Korea comprises twenty chapters unevenly allotted in five parts; each part covers the corresponding and related contents under umbrella terms such as Departures (Part I), Borderlines (II), Stratagems (III), Accord (IV), Arrivals (V). Characterizing the repatriation of Koreans from Japan to North Korea as exodus, the author walks the reader into invisible nodal points, where “the small stories of personal lives and the grand stories of global politics intersect.” In other words, Morris-Suzuki reconstructs one of the most complicated and multifaceted events during the Cold War period, which cut through the legacies of colonialism, desires of decolonization, and overwhelming forces of the Cold War polarity. Meanwhile, the subtitle of the book may give an impression to the reader that the story narrated in the book would be mostly about Japan and its postwar history. However, it would be fruitful to take well into consideration the authorial intention of blurring the strict demarcations between nations, states, and borders, all of which have been articulated and constructed as ‘modern’ projects. Then we can take a step forward towards the rigorous understanding of the past, the ‘exodus’ of Koreans from Japan in the periods 1959-1984 in this case, the shadow of which still affects the lives of a number of people.

The main thread that largely constitutes Exodus to North Korea is a series of repatriations of Koreans from Japan to the DPRK from 1959 to 1984, in accordance with the Calcutta Accord, signed on 13 August 1959 between the Japan Red Cross Society and the same society of North Korea (196). Be that as it may, the origin of this story goes back even to the colonial period. In other words, Exodus to North Korea needs to be understood in relation to colonialism. As the first few chapters show, during and after the Japanese colonial period of Korea, a significant number of Koreans, especially those from the southern part of the Peninsula and Jeju Island moved to “expanding Japanese cities,” seeking for a better life (48). Around liberation, some of them chose to go to Busan instead of Japanese cities in a bid to evade “the fighting on the Korean mainland” (55). In addition to the forcibly relocated subjects before 1945, these Koreans began to be regarded as ‘aliens’ by not only the Japanese authorities including the GHQ-SCAP (60-1), but also the South Korean government (66). Rika Hiroshi’s question to Yi Yang-Soo (himself) captures the desperate situation in which Korean residents in Japan had to face (63): “If I’m not Japanese, then what on earth am I?” To make matter worse, these ‘alien’ residents in Japan lost “the right to public housing and a range of other welfare benefits” as of 28 April 1952 (67). Up until the 1980s, this visible, social discrimination had lingered to the fullest, promoting the idea of returning to the Socialist Fatherland among the Zainichi Korean.

The Cold War divide would of no less importance in understanding this exodus to North Korea in contexts; rather, this issue not only set the tone of numerous affairs and exchanged including negotiations over the repatriation, but also offered different actors a varying degree of discretion. While it would be the latter point on which the author must have focused in narrating the story of the repatriation (13), Exodus to North Korea does seem to be aware of the limits and restrictions that the Cold War order imposed on people (14). In this vein, Morris-Suzuki spilt a considerable amount of ink through chapters seven to seventeen (Parts III and IV) in order to trace what had been going on at the highest and mid-high levels. While Part III presents individual histories as well as convoluted exchanges of significant figures such as Inoue Masutarō, Eugène de Weck, and Han Deok-Su, who played important roles in negotiating about the repatriation, Part IV registers the highest-level developments among the U.S., the Soviet Union, India, Japan, and both Koreas in the fateful years of 1958 and 1959. From my perspective, interested parties’ motives are succinctly summarized in chapter sixteen: Japan regarded the Zainichi Korean as “burden”; the ICRC outsourced the dealings of the issue to its branches in both Japan and North Korea; the North Korean state relied upon Chongryun in receiving labor force as well as legitimacy over South Korea, under the auspices of the Soviet Union; the Soviet Union supported North Korea in opposition to China; last but not least, the U.S. remained silent about the repatriation as long as it did not undermine its security interest on Japan (199-200). As Morris-Suzuki poignantly points out, “that silence [of the U.S.] was perhaps the final decisive factor that enabled the plans of all the others to become reality.”

The authorial focus has something to do with historical materials this book draws heavily upon: accounts and narratives from the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross archives, diplomats’ diaries [logs] of JoongAng Russian archives, and partially declassified information of Foreign Relations of the United States only reveal “the tip of the iceberg” of historical truth produced by those who had the power to leave official records and personal observations. Nonetheless, the author tries to complement this lopsidedness of historical representation with a substantial amount of oral interviews. Recognizing the impossibility of fully reconstructing the past (249), Morris-Suzuki actively utilizes verbal accounts of those returnees in the first and last chapters of the book. For illustration, the reader would easily be able to imagine the degree of desperation as well as frustration of returnees when Oh Su-Ryong first saw “the scene” in Cheongjin on the morning of 25 February 1962 (231): “oh no!” Considering that the memory not only has a kernel of truth, but also could be serving as the only channel to the past like any historical research of the Japanese military “comfort women” issue, reproducing as well as interpreting those volatile accounts in a book is one of many academic virtues that Exodus to North Korea presents to the reader.

Last but not least, this book could have been substantially elaborated if the author had referred to existing scholarship of North Korean history in either Korean or English. This kind of criticism would not be doing justice given that the marginalized position of the North Korean history studies in both English- and Japanese-languages academia. However, Morris-Suzuki must have been careful in explaining specificities of not only North Korea, but also Korea in general. For example, I wonder what the author would mean by when she renders North Korea “Stalinist” (15). Another representative error the author makes could be located in chapter two where she mentions that “an even greater number had migrated to China, Manchuria, and the Soviet Union” (22). The number of Koreans who had migrated to the Soviet Union before “the Return of the Light” in 1945 could at best be less than 180,000 (around 170,000 Koreans were deported to Central Asia in 1937), being less than a tenth to “more than two million Koreans” the author cites. Unfounded assumption that “[m]any were arrested and disappeared in the DPRK’s expanding labor camps” could be problematic (175). There is no known place as “Yeodok” in North Korea (239); it must be Yodŏk. Notwithstanding the aforementioned issues, Exodus to North Korea will remain as a milestone regarding the 1959 repatriation of Koreans from Japan to North Korea in times to come, specifically for those interested in Japan-North Korea relations, the intersection of “small stories” and “grand stories” during the Cold War, and how to write a fascinating transnational history from diverse as well as decentered perspectives.

Posted by 사용자 Л

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