[KS] Re: Query: Vietnam and Japanese Collaborators

Pak, Jacqueline jypak at ipo.net
Tue Feb 2 14:30:40 EST 1999

Hello, Mr. Goodwin,

Recently, Japan's wartime atrocities are increasingly being highlighted in
the media and popular discourse, and not just among academics and
historians.  Since you mentioned a number of popular books, I will mention
another, such as "The Rape of Nanking", a best-seller, exploring the "East
Asian halocaust".  I hear that it will be made into a film as well, as an
East Asian version of 'The Schindler's List'.

For Koreans who have suffered the Japanese colonial rule, collaboration is
certainly a delicate and difficult issue, although one could say that
collaboration too was a form of victimization which Koreans suffered in
various guises.  

I work on Korean colonial history -- esp. nationalist leadership and
In terms of Duus' work which I enjoyed reading and quite appreciated, I
have to say that your quoted comments strike me as rather simplistic, if
not incorrect.  As a topic, collaboration has serious politico-moral
implications and has been vigorously pursued by Korean scholars,
particularly from the 1980s  onwards.  There are too many works and
documentary sources that I could mention in Korean language about
collaboration.  (It is my understanding that Prof. Duus does not read
Korean.)  I also believe that there is a considerable amount of
scholarship, if not historical records, on collaborators in Japanese. 

Still, only a very small number of works on the Korean colonial history
exist in English, which may partly explain the reasons for such a view.  As
far as I can see, for example, a general outline of the nature of Korean
nationalist movement and leadership has yet to be clearly delineated.
Indeed, there is much more research required in English to reveal the
historical facts and truths of Koreans under the Japanese rule.  

Increasingly, more English works dealing with Korean colonial history as
well as nationalist movement will emerge to shed more light. I expect that
such will add greater knowledge and insights to the currently limited scope
of English-language scholarship of the sufferings of Koreans under colonial
This is not to state that Korean works do not have some significant
problems of their own.

Whether in Korean or English, any simplistic generalizations concerning
Korean collaboration and collaborators must be rigorously questioned. I
think it is important to dispel any notion that a complex topic such as
collaboration can be treated in a reductive or simplistic manner without
intuitive and sophisticated understanding of the multi-layered issues and
milieu that constituted colonial-nationalist reality for Koreans.

Jacqueline Pak


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