[KS] Chuch'e

Gari Keith Ledyard gkl1 at columbia.edu
Tue Feb 12 00:25:51 EST 2002

Ruediger's question has certainly generated a fascinating discussion, and
I can't add much to the lustre already created by Petrov, Cumings,
Armstrong, Hoffman, Ch'oe et al.  But as with many other modern issues
that I jump into from time to time, I want to mention the classical echoes
of the term kukch'e/kokutai.  It is frequently seen in 19th century
Confucian writings, but in a sense that is never refected by the usual
translations-- national body, body politic, national polity, national
essence, national entity, etc.  Apart from the fascist ring of some of
these renderings, which is important, it is hard to imagine what kukch'e
actually MEANT to the multitudes that were forced to mouth the word
everyday.  I have always found most of the translations opaque and
inadequate.  But in the classical discourse, kukch'e connoted something
like the national face-- and I mean the face that one loses.  The element
<ch'e> has a lot to do with <ch'emy^on>, and that is a concept which
resonates deeply in all members of East Asian societies.  The kukch'e can
be hurt, it can be embarrassed, it can be insulted, it can be sullied.
The members of the society must behave in such a way that the kukch'e will
not be "lost."  This sense of the word resonates with emotions and ethics
that spring from deep sources in the traditional psyche.  It is because of
those resonances that the term had so much manipulative power.
	One other comment I wanted to make concerns the literary genre
represented by Paek Nam'un's speech.  It is indeed one of the classical
exercises that followed the tenk^o, or ch^onhyang in Korean, meaning "a
turning" but connoting so much more.  Almost every intellectual, but
especially those on the left, had to do their tenk^o--turn away from
communism and turn toward the protection and nurturing of the kokutai.
It started with a confession of moral and philosophical errors, then a
positive response to the demand for a renewal of the self.  The new self
then had to demonstrate repeatedly its new commitment and direction
through public speeches, and through a new tone in whatever a given
individual did, whether it was art, literature, music, scholarship,
journalism, whatever.  People who got to this point seldom ever got off
the hook.  Against this background, my first inclination would be not to
take Paek Nam'un's speeches or other writings after the tenk^o too
seriously.  The pressure exerted by the multitude of handlers and guides
who followed up on the tenk^o was enormous.  You want to take a trip?
Give a speech and we'll think about it.  You want your kids to stay in the
prestigious school where they're enrolled?  Write an article and it can be
arranged.  Otherwise...  All of this usually developed without torture or
imprisonment, but there was pain enough.

Gari Ledyard

 On Mon, 11 Feb 2002, Leonid Petrov

> Dear Frank,
> In April 1941, the founder of the Marxist Socio-economic school of
> historiography, Paek Nam-un, gave a public lecture titled "The Morality
> of Regulated Economy". One section of his lecture was titled "T'ongje-Ui
> chuch'e-wa sinch'eje-Ui sOngkkyOk" [The Subject of Control and the
> Nature of the New System]. There Paek argued that Korea [uri kukch'e]
> must become a subject [chuch'e] of the new Japanese economic control and
> therefore help the Japanese people [ilbon kungmin] fulfill the Emperor's
> policy on the creation of the country's invincible might [kUmgu mugyOl].
> We can see that in this piece the word "chuch'e" was used in its original meaning -- "subject" -- albeit a little bit broadened by the fascism-tilting author.
> This lecture was given at the Keijo Daiwa Hall, the usual venue for
> "patriotic" events held in the Japanese-occupied Seoul.[1] Paek also
> argued for successful creation of the Japan-Manchuria-China bloc in East
> Asia as was suggested by the "Eight Corners under One Roof" [hakko
> ichiu] motto. He also compared the merits of Japanese economic system
> (which he unequivocally called "our national economy") with that of
> Germany and Italy. Paek claimed that, from the moral point of view, the
> Japanese economic model, based on the Imperial system, was far more
> advanced than those implemented by some "prominent leaders" in
> Europe.[2] Despite the timid criticism of over-regulation and rising
> prices, Paek called upon his countrymen to mobilize all national
> resources and prepare themselves for the extremes of wartime economy.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> [1] Paek Nam-un, 'Tosei Keizai-no Rinrisei' [The Morality of Regulated
> Economy], Toyo-no Hikari, (June 1942), No. 4-6.
> [2] Paek Nam-un, 'T'ongje KyOngje-Ui YullisOng' [The Morality of
> Regulated Economy], Ha Il-sik, trans., Hwip'yOn. Paek Nam-un ChOnjip 4.,
> Seoul: Iron-gwa Silch'On, 1991, pp.282-284.
> With best regards,
> Division of Pacific and Asian History
> Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
> The Australian National University
> ****************************************
> Mob: +61-403076604
> Tel:   +61(2) 6125 3172 (office)
> Fax:  +61(2) 6125 5525 (office)
> E-mail: petrov at coombs.anu.edu.au
> WWW: http://north-korea.narod.ru
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ruediger Frank" <rfrank at eplus-online.de>
> To: <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Sent: Friday, February 08, 2002 8:03 PM
> Subject: [KS] Chuch'e
> > Dear list,
> >
> > I am currently writing an article on the political system of North Korea
> > for a German university textbook. Needless to say that in the course of
> > this work I have to deal with the term Chuch'e.
> >
> > As far as I remember having heard, a philosophical term called Shutaisei
> > (Chuch'esOng) has already been used by the Japanese in the 1920s, long
> > before Kim Il-sOng introduced Chuch'e in his speech to the propagandists of
> > the Nodongdang on December 28, 1955. Is that correct? And if yes, in which
> > context has it been used before?
> >
> > Thanks a lot for your help.
> >
> > Best regards,
> >
> > Ruediger Frank
> > ***********************
> > Ruediger FRANK
> > Humboldt-University Berlin
> > Korea Institute
> > Fon: +49-30-55 99 878
> > Fax: +49-30-2093-6666
> > e-mail: ruediger.frank at rz.hu-berlin.de
> > Web: http://www2.hu-berlin.de/korea
> > ***********************
> >
> >
> >

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