The Way to Learn about Zainichi Koreans

In the previous blog, I wrote about education of Dowa Problem and suggested that we should hide that so as not to remember; namely, 寝た子を起こすな論. In my view, the theory does work in the case of Dowa Problem; however, as described in Pacchigi!, lack of correct understanding of certain kind of problems such as about Zainichi Koreans may cause troubles. In the movie, when Kosuke (main character) attempted to pray in his Zainichi friend’s funeral, he was refused by the friend’s families due to lack of understanding of Zainichi’s history. That is, unlike Dowa Problem, the problem of Zainichi Korean requires another way to learn; thus the following will discuss the way to learn about Zainichi Koreans, comparing with the case of Dowa Problem.

The first difference between burakumins and Zainichi Koreans is their identities. The former has identities as Japanese and the latter has those as, more or less, Koreans. Unlike burakumins who are completely Japanese, Zainichi Koreans are different from Japanese. The second difference is in their demands; i.e. the former requires assimilation into other Japanese majority because they have a historical background that they were outcasted in Edo Era, while the latter keep on having their own culture including, as described in the movie, makkori and Choko (high schools for Zainichi Koreans). In other words, Zainichi Koreans requires diversity unlike burakumins who are seeking to assimilation.

In the case of burakumins, 寝た子を起こすな論 works because they have Japanese identities and require assimilation; while in the case of Zainichi Koreans, the theory does not work because they do not completely have Japanese identities and require diversity; thus, we need to have correct historical understanding of Zainichi Koreans actively. In the movie, Kosuke was refused by his friend’s families and the sole reason was his nationality: Japanese. Zainichi Koreans have a historical background that they came to Japan through the colonialism of Japan and they perhaps do not have good image to Japan. The movie described Kosuke as naïve and ignorant; while at present, Japanese youth are unconcerned about such problems; in other words, they tend not try to know. The historical backgrounds are different between 1970s (in the movie) and 21st century; but both are common in a sense that both Kosuke and Japanese youth do not have knowledge about Zainichi Koreans; thus, the lesson of having historical understanding can be applied not only to Kosuke but also to us.

by Kosuke Matsuura

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