Mark Caprio - Professor of Intercultural Communication, Rikkyo University
In 2006 and 2007 a parliamentary commission initiated by the South Korean government made public two lists totaling just over 200 Koreans deemed guilty of collaboration under Japanese rule (1910-1945). The commission was motivated by the task of putting to rest what one recent publication described as Korea’s “original sin”: the assistance that Koreans offered their Japanese occupiers at a time when their country faced its biggest challenge in historical memory. Failure to reconcile the collaboration issue, this publication continued, threatened Korea’s “utter survival.” Missing from such discussions are the disturbing questions that reopening the collaborator issue presented, none the least being the complications involved with trying people who are no longer alive for acts they committed more than six decades previous. Why have South Koreans been unable to resolve this issue sooner? What possible gains are there to be made by investigating people who can no longer explain their actions? This presentation is designed to accomplish two goals: In the informative session it will consider the history behind Korean efforts to identify, try, and convict those guilty of colonial-era collaboration. How does this history compare with other similar cases, such as those of post-German occupations in Europe? And, what elements blocked Korean efforts to resolve the collaboration issue in the years following liberation? It will follow with a discussion session where we will consider the important issues that complicate the trial and conviction of people believed to have engaged in traitorous activity by collaborating with an occupying people. Mark E. Caprio is professor of Korean history in the College of Intercultural Communication, Rikkyo University (Tokyo, Japan). He is the author of Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 (University of Washington Press, 2009). In addition to colonial-era related topics his research also focuses on postwar/liberation occupations in Japan and Korea, and current issues that separate Japan, the United States, and North Korea. For the 2012-3 academic year he is at UCLA as a visiting scholar.