[KS] Re: Response to Jacqueline Pak
jypak at ipo.net
Wed Feb 3 10:51:30 EST 1999
I seemed to have generated quite a bit of response and genuinely appreciate
all the comments and queries.
First of all, I would think that Prof. McCann already knows that I do not
mean that only Koreans who themselves or ancestors were in the independence
movement could pursue research in colonial history. Yet, I should mention
that there is a huge difference and gap between the witness participant and
observer, as much as the primary and secondary source. That is why, I
suppose, it is all the more valuable when we have an opportunity to hear
the authentic voice and have bona fide documents.
Second, thanking Frank for bibliographical information, I have earlier
noted that there are problems with Korean analysis as well as English. The
empirical misrepresentation and ideological reductivism (as well as
misappropriation) can be found in any language scholarship.
While it was not my intention to be controversial with my general
observations, it was my intention to remind the Korean Studies community
about the need for further research and inquiries into colonial history.
And it was also a way of introducing my upcoming revisionist work, "An
Ch'angho and the Nationalist Origins of Korean Democracy". I believe, many
of the questions which some of you have raised would be answered through my
work. So I would address some of the issues better perhaps after the
questioners, among others, have read it.
Perhaps, Michael Goodwin (I do not believe that I have met you. I would
appreciate an introduction.) has or has not followed this network from some
years ago. Now the message archive has deleted the furious debate about
whether An Ch'angho was a gradualist or not. Debating with Frank back then
who insisted that An Ch'angho was a gradualist leader, I mentioned the
issue of "apapearance vs. reality" problematique in colonial-nationalist
history. In other words, what appeared may not actually have constituted
the truth of reality for Korean revolutionaries operating under harsh
circumstances of colonial oppression. This was confirmed over and over
again in my own study. This is what I meant by "intuitive understanding
In terms of collaboration, certainly both voluntary and involuntary forms
existed. One of the works that Frank failed to mention, for example, was
Ann Lee's thesis on her grandfather, Yi Kwangsu, who was a disciple of An
Ch'angho who, in my view, was forced to collaborate after having to endure
torture, imprisonment, and prolonged trial of the Hungsadan with
When one begins to really grasp the horrifying magnitude and scope of
sufferings of Koreans under colonial rule, one may begin to see why
collaboration (even voluntary) too could be construed as a form of
I hope that Korean Studies is a field that does not have to question what
could possibly mean by humane insights and sensitivity about others'
suffering, sorrows and victimization.
> From: David McCann <dmccann at fas.harvard.edu>
> To: korean-studies at mailbase.ac.uk
> Subject: Re: Response to Jacqueline Pak
> Date: Tuesday, February 02, 1999 9:03 PM
> Also re collaboration as voluntary or not, to add another to Frank
> Hoffmann's list, the short story Wings by Yi Sang has been read as a
> portrait of the colonized mentality. The main character/ narrator's
> passivity, coupled with his stubborn refusal to acknowledge what his wife
> is doing in the other room, is a part of that reading. One can also
> the question: The reader "knows" what is going on in the story, and will
> feel impatient or superior with regard to the narrator because of that
> knowledge or understanding. If so, then doesn't the main character's
> continuing refusal to acknowledge the actual state of things implicate
> reader, in 1930's Korea, in the same refusal to acknowldge the state of
> things "outside" the story; namely, the Japanese colonization?
> D. McCann
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