Sayaka Chatani - Assistant Professor and Presidential Young Professor at the Department of History, The National University of Singapore
A Korean ghetto existed in every large Japanese city in the early postwar period, and up to the late 1960s. These ghettos provoke the same images and associations in the memory of most Japanese: isolation, poverty, filth, danger. To many scholars the existence of ghettos confirms the transwar continuity of Japanese oppression of underclass ethnic minorities. But Koreans who grew up in ghettos, or tongne, often offer spectacular, heroic narratives about life there. This presentation switches the focus from Japanese society to zainichi or resident Koreans themselves, and discusses the important sociopolitical functions of the tongne, along with its continuing symbolic meanings. By paying close attention to the tongne, we can gain a better understanding of the uneven terrain of power relationships within zainichi society. In particular, examination of Korean ghettos in Japan helps to explain why the (pro-North Korean) Chongryun organization exercised great cultural power through the 1960s, and still defines the emotional topography of the zainichi Korean memoryscape.
Sayaka Chatani is Assistant Professor and Presidential Young Professor at the Department of History, the National University of Singapore. She is the author of Nation-Empire: Ideology and Rural Youth Mobilization in Japan and Its Colonies (Cornell University Press, 2018; a recipient of Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award). Her articles on Japanese imperialism and youth have appeared in The American Historical Review, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and edited volumes. She is currently working on the history of transborder emotional community among pro-North Korean Zainichi Korean population in Japan and beyond.