[Lecture Briefing] Recordings Help Depict Japanese Imperialism in Korea
[Lecture Briefing] Recordings Help Depict Japanese Imperialism in Korea
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  • 승인 2007.03.02 00:00
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              Professor Tsuji Hironori of the Research Institute of Oriental Cultures (RIOC), gave a lecture about the historical research techniques conducted by the RIOC at the Humanities Building on February 8. Hironori explained how the members of the RIOC conducted research on tape recordings of presentations made by former officials related to the Japanese Government-General of Joseon, as Korea was called when it was a province in the Japanese empire, during the late 1950s.


             Professor Ham Dong-ju (History) served as the chairperson of the lecture and Professor Kang Young-sim from Kookmin University led a discussion on the lecture.

             Hironori, who spoke in Japanese, spoke about the process of research on 400 open reel tapes that were recorded in meetings of a research society called the Joseon Modern History Research Society. Formed in the year 1958, the research society held meetings every Wednesday, with over 129 presenters who included officials from various departments in the Joseon government, along with graduate students and activists that opposed Japanese imperialism. Topics included specific operations led by the Joseon governorsgeneral, personal experiences of officials in the Korean colony, reports on activists in the colony and generation information on the history of Korea.

             The ROIC restored these open reel tapes, which had been kept for 50 years in their original state. The tapes were then converted into cassette tapes to be played in modern machines, transcribed, and analyzed from a modern perspective. Their reports are printed in Volume 2-8 of the journal Oriental Culture Research which is regularly published by the RIOC, and the reports printed in Volume 2 has been translated into Korean by Professor Jeong Jae-young from the University of Seoul under the title The False and True Images of Colonial Rule during the Japanese Occupation. Other reports published in Oriental Culture Research include information about the framework and personnel of the Joseon government and the Japanese military in Korea, called the “Joseon Troops.” There are also reports of problems that occurred with Koreans living in Manchuria, about independence movements and about independence activists.

             After Hironori’s lecture, Kang Young-sim began a discussion with a few questions for Hironori. She questioned the credibility and objectivity of research based sole on a single set of recordings. Kang also noted the subjective propensity of the presenters at the 1958 meetings might have been to support colonialism and questioned whether the presenters recorded on the tapes were an adequate source for understanding the period of Japanese imperialism as they might only represent a part and not the whole of the era. “We need to double check the credibility and objectivity of the tapes because the lectures given by the presenters at the meetings were conducted through a question and answer method. The questions were made by the Joseon Modern History Research Society which might have induced certain answers favorable to their perspective,” said Kang.

             In response, Hironori said that he understood the doubts raised by the professor and that he himself even believes that the research is quite dangerous. However, he assured the participants that every single detail from the tapes was examined with utmost care to ensure objectivity and credibility of the research. “Whenever I give lectures in public, I focus on differentiating facts from opinions,” said Hironori. Hironori concluded by adding that the information found from his research can help depict the reality of Japanese imperialism in Korea.

             About 30 students and Ewha professors, along with others interested in Japanese imperialism in South Korea attended. Ewha students also contributed to the debate. “Koreans say that Japan is a country that is nearby but very far away at the same time. This lecture was a chance to explore different perspectives on how Koreans and Japanese see history. It was an opportunity to get closer to the Japanese,” said Han Ji-hye (Early Childhood Education, 3).

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