[KS] assessing historical meanings - Mr. Yoon

Vladimir Tikhonov vladimir.tikhonov at ikos.uio.no
Wed Sep 8 05:05:40 EDT 2010

Dear all,

It looks very unfortunate to me that one very principled and rather 
balanced contemporaneous evaluation of Yun Pong'gil's act seemingly 
evades the attention of the discussants here. I am thinking about Pak 
HOnyOng, the then Moscow-based Korean Communist leader, who, in his July 
1932 piece, "What the Shanghai Bombing Incident Means?", gave a judgment 
of Yun's act which still seems to be surprisingly well-measured. He did 
not see it as "violence", of course, since the actions of the Japanese 
military were incomparably more violent; he even mentioned that the 
"incident" was a "joyful occasion", quite understandable impression from 
the viewpoint of the citizens of an occupied country. But he judged it 
to be not only of little use in the course of working classes' 
anti-imperialist struggle, but also directly harmful, since it was 
inculcating the illusions of individual struggle in the minds of the 
people, essentially putting an obstacle on the way of the more organized 
class resistance. He also foresaw that Yun's act would be politically 
used by the extreme right-wingers among the China-based Korean emigres 
for their own self-advancement. I am afraid that there is little to add 
to this analysis even now - yes, Yun's act was, of course, seen as 
legitimate by the majority of politically conscious Chinese and Koreans; 
but it hardly had any direct relationship to the real-life struggles of 
the majority of the colonized Korean population - striking workers, 
tenants on dispute, striking school pupils etc.


On 08.09.2010 04:33, Frank Hoffmann wrote:
>> do we have any realistic idea about how many people in China and Korea 
>> actually learned about Mr. Yoon's act at the time?
> If you read some of the reminiscences of former independence activists 
> (many have been published over the years in China and South Korea) as 
> well as various source materials of the time, you will find that Yun 
> Ponggil's bombing did have significant influences: for example, Chinese 
> Guomindang and Communist groups were now willing to work with the 
> Koreans and began to include Korean units in their armies or otherwise 
> cooperated with them. It can well be argued that this was one of the 
> aims of this and earlier failed such attacks--this becomes again clear 
> if you read through various letters and memorials of Korean independence 
> activists in China, talking about the distrust of the Chinese towards 
> them (before Yun's bombing). Koreans were till then often seen as 
> possible agents of the Japanese, and in some cases that was of course 
> also the case. If you further follow the incidents that let up to the 
> occupation of Manchuria by the Japanese (that were taken as a pretext), 
> the so-called "Wanpaoshan Incident" (Manpozan jiken), you will then find 
> that the dual citizenship status of Koreans in parts of China and the 
> clever Japanese concept of "Divide and Rule" had given the Chinese 
> plenty of reasons to distrust Koreans. Korean groups in Shanghai and 
> Manchuria tried to overcome those obstacles in working with the Chinese 
> to get their support, partially by trying to *prove* that they were 
> worth to be supported (to then again help the Korean cause). In this 
> series of actions Yun's bombing was probably the most significant one. 
> And yes, it really did change Chinese attitudes toward the Koreans at 
> the time, there is no doubt about that. As for media coverage, the 
> bombing made it to the front pages of many major Asian newspapers. All 
> details were very well covered.
> Again about Chinese resistance: That was not any weaker than the Korean 
> resistance. The point, as argued before, is rather that Communist 
> historians are emphasizing group activities and Communist Party 
> activities, not the activities of nationalist or anarchist groups or of 
> individuals. The Communists were early on able to create military units 
> to fight the Japanese. That is another reason why desperate 
> single-handed acts were not 'necessary' for the Chinese--other than for 
> the Koreans, who needed (a) to woo for Chinese support in their cause, 
> while (b) also proving they are no Japanese spies, and (c) had not the 
> military means to make a dent into the Japanese Empire, thus were mostly 
> limited to symbolic and anarchist acts.
> Best,
> Frank

Vladimir Tikhonov,
Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages,
Faculty of Humanities,
University of Oslo,
P.b. 1010, Blindern, 0315, Oslo, Norway.
Fax: 47-22854828; Tel: 47-22857118
Personal web page: http://folk.uio.no/vladimit/
Electronic classrooms: East Asian/Korean Society and Politics:
                        East Asian/Korean Religion and Philosophy:

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