Resident Korean or Korean immigrant matter in Japan is related to the Japan’s modernization and its development to imperialism. Japan was the only one non-Western country that developed to an imperialist power. But its development to imperialism was later than any European imperialist countries, so its reign did not extend beyond East Pacific region and South East Asia by the Pacific War. Korea was de facto annexed to Japan in 1905 and, during the Japanese colonial occupation, was transformed to the resource supplier and the secondary market for Japanese capitalism. As Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Japan transformed Korea to its advance base for expansion. So Koreans who were already separated from their land and became lumpen proletariat migrated to Japan for well–paid jobs before 1939 or for conscription at mines and munitions factories after 1939 to makeup for the shortage of labor force that resulted from the military mobilization of Japanese. Most of them were from southern part of Korea and illiterate, ill-educated, and poor. Until 1945, approximate two million moved to Japan.1)
After the defeat of Japan in 1945, some were repatriated to Korea. However, the emergence of Cold War and the outbreak of the Korean War made other remain in Japan. Remaining Koreans, who were approximate 600,000 people, were deprived of Japanese citizenship and considered legally as ‘stateless’ or foreigner. Later, they were forced to choose one nationality among South Korea, Japan and Chosun. Even as Korea was divided into two opposite regimes and the Korean War broke out, they were divided into two groups, leftist/left supporters and non-leftist group. So they had to struggle not only against Japanese social and legal discrimination but also fight against each other.2)
The issue of postwar migration is related to the way of postwar global spread of Taylorism.3) After World War II, Japan subcontracted their industrial network to neighboring country like South Korea but does not have imported workers from other countries while Western countries imported immigrant workers(Turks in Germany). In terms of race, there is no difference beween Korean and Japanese, which is distinct from racial minority matters of Western European countries. In Japanese films, the difference is revealed directly through a verbal reference with derogatory meanings or indirectly through the character’s occupation, culture of costume, food and verbal expression. The latter are not distinguishable for who is not accustomed to Japanese society. For example, in Imamura Shohei’s
The negative image of Koreans was constructed with their lower status of second citizen, colonial subject and working class in the early 20th century. It was mediated with the advent of modern mass media, and strengthened by the Japanese myth of homogeneity, ‘Japan is homogenous society’.4) The first negative image of Korean is poor and uneducated, which results from their lower wage, language barrier and the absence of educational policy to Koreans. The second one is ‘criminal propensity’ of Koreans. Japanese police attributed criminal behavior to Koreans, and newspapers printed stories in which unstable Koreans were involved in criminal activities. However, some Koreans considered lawbreaking as a countermeasure to Japanese suppression and even several Koreans became a member of gangster organization. The third image of Koreans is ‘lack of responsibility and less efficient’ in comparison with Japanese. Korean Independent movements including mass demonstriation such as the National Peaceful Demonstration on March First (1919) in Korea and successive military attacks by Korean nationalists from regular warfares or minor attacks in Northeast Asia increased anti-Koreanism in Japan. All these factors resulted in the characterization ‘Futeisenjin’(disobedient Korean). This stereotyping of Korean as badness still maintains today.5) It is also related to the Japanese colonial
It is also related to the Japanese colonial discourse about Korea. By examining Japanese literature text, Jung Soo-wan classifies the Japanese colonial discourse about Koreans into three categories:
From now, I will examine Oshima Nagisa’s
1)Carter J. Eckert and Ki-baik Lee Michael Robinson and Edward W. Wagner Korea Old and New, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp. 322–323. And see George De Vos and Chang Soo Lee, “The Colonial Experience, 1910–1945,” Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981, pp. 34–57. 2)Chang Soo Lee, “Koreans under SCAP: An Era of Unrest and Repression, The Politics of Repatriation, Organizational Division and Conflict: Chongnyon and Mindan,” Ibid, pp. 73–129. 3)Faruk Tabak, The World Labour Force, The Age of Transition: Trajectory of the World System, 1945–2025, edited by Terence K Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, London: Zed Books, 1996, pp. 90–96. 4)De Vos and Lee, “The Maintenance of a Korean Ethnic Identity in Japan,” op. cit, pp. 355–356. 5)De Vos and Lee, Ibid, pp. 38 – 41. According to them, it is not uncommon to find a grandmother scolding her grandchild by saying, “Don’t sit like Chosenjin (Korean) do.” 6)정수완 ｢일본영화속에 나타난 한국인상 연구｣, 동국대학교 연극영화과 석사학위논문, 1995, pp. 18 –26. 7)Ibid, pp. 32 . 53 8)Koichi Iwabuchi, “Political Correctness, postcoloniality and the self-representation of “Koreanness” in Japan,” Koreans in Japan, edited by Sonia Ryang, NewYork: Routledge, 2000, p. 55. Choi Yang-il is pronounced as SAIYoi-chi in Japanese. 9)In South Korea, it was not allowed to release Japanese cinema or Korea-Japan coproduced films until 1997.
There was virtually no social problem film tradition in Japanese cinema except
Among them, Oshima Nagisa’s
R is condemned to death penalty for the rape and murder of two girls. Though he is executed through hanging, he does not die. The secretary of a prosecutor tells the prosecutor that law prohibits the unconscious condemned. Then, a staff member of the death chamber tries to revive him. R loses his memory after he wakes. A priest does not agree with other staff’s idea to hang him again because he is already executed and he is not without his soul. The secretary oppose to th execution, too, because he is fall into amnesia.
All staffs, especially an education officer and a security officer, who represent Japanese ideological state apparatus and repressive state apparatus, make efforts to restore his memory through the record in a written arraignment. First, they tell him that he is a Korean and murdered two girls. But R does not understand what the term ‘Korean’ means. That verbal reference reveals that this case is not just murder case or abolition of capital punishment but related to the minority matter Japan. Second, as the secretary reads the crime description in the written arraignment, the education officer and these curity officer act as R and murdered girl. Even they build a temporary newspaper set to remind R of his home: the allegory of Korean residence in Japan. In this temporary set, they take role of R’s family members who have suffered from misery, vulgarism and domestic violence. In this scene, the prosecutor behind whom there is Japanese flag sees this reenactment outside the imaginary window of the set. The process of restoration is the process of interpellation, incorporation of ideology or the stereotype of Koreans.
However, R shows the experiences that are different from what they want to see. R acts eating tapeworms, which is more miserable than the Japanese officers think, and going to family picnic with his younger sisters, by which is not written in his record. Being indifferent to R’s situation, Japanese officers merely try to enact on the record and insist that he acts on the record and accepts the prosecution. In this scene, two songs are used for background music: one is a Korean lullaby to emphasize R’s wish for happy family and the other is the anthem of General Kim Il-sung to strengthen the radicalism of R’s rebellious brother.
This scene also reminds that Koreans become the object of viewing for Japanese spectators. In reality, some Resident Koreans became famous entertainer such as a singer (Misora Hibari) and sportsmen (a professional wrestling hero, Rikidozan and a professional baseball player, Chang Hun or Harimoto Isao). Rikidozan hid his original identity not to be discriminated. Chang Hun has already disclosed his identity, keeps his original nationality, and has struggled to overcome the discrimination as Jacky Robinson did in US Major League. Although Misora Hibari did not disclose her identity, there was the rumor that she was Korean after she died.12) That is, whereas Resident Korean celebrities hae taken Japanese characters in reality, Oshima subverts the hierarchy and power structure between Koreans (minority) as the spectacle and Japanese (majority) as the spectator, and described the Japanese as ridiculous for filmviewers by showing that the Japanese officers and guards play the Korean characters.13)
Suddenly, the education officer finds a coffin in which a naked girl lies covered with Japanese flag but nobody sees it. Then, this girl changes to a girl who wears sailor uniform, which the priest can see. R says that he can make it come true what he dreams about. In turn, other guards begin to see her. The woman stands up, changes to a woman in Korean dress, and says that she is R’s elder sister. The Japanese officers don’t admit because the record says that R does not have elder sister in reality. This imaginary woman asks R to fight for unification of Korea, and protests Japanese officers for Japanese colonial oppression and exploitation. She symbolizes the activism of pro-North Korean group in Resident Koreans.14) She urges to incorporate resistant identity to R, but R just wants to live an easy life. All the Japanese officers, except the prosecutor, can see her. Japanese officers’ acknowledgement and the prosecutor’s blindness alludes that whereas Japanese state apparatus substantially recognizes Koreans as a social subject the Japanese legal system ignores the history of Resident Koreans. Even he orders guards to hang her because she is not permitted in the chamber.
In the next scene, R and his imaginary sister lie naked and covered with Japanese flag. Around them, the officers enjoy drinking, singing and dancing. They talk about what they experienced domestically and abroad during the World War II – killing innocent people, witnessing terrible scenery and so on. While Japanese officers fight, blame each other and fall into self-pity, R tells her sister that only his dream and imagination makes him happy under the pathetic situation. Sometimes he steals and follows a girl, which excites his imagination. At last, he cannot tell the reality from the imagination. He imagined raping and killing a girl, which he did in reality. He tells that he has always dreamed about having elder sister. When he tells his story, still photo shots of his victim are provided. The victim in the phots resembles his imaginary sister. This continual images of the victim/imaginary sister signifies R’s derangement and confusion of reality and imagination.
Finally, his memory is restored or his identity is constructed. R accepts being R but refuses to be executed. He denies the state, Japan, which has ordered his execution. He cannot acknowledge the state of which he cannot see the entity. So he asks officers if they are state. No officer answers that he is. The prosecutor allows him not to be hanged and to go out of the chamber. But R cannot go outside. The prosecutor says that even if he cannot see the state he can feel the state. That’s why he cannot go outside. Even if the state does not exist in real figure, the state exists imaginarily. R accepts to be executed for the sake of all Rs.
10)Friedrich Engels, “Chapter V. Irish Immigration,” The Condition of the Working Class in England, Oxford: Blackwell, 1958, p. 104. 11)David Desser, Eros plus Massacre: An Introduction to The Japanese New Wave Cinema, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988, pp. 145–146. 12)William Wetherall, “Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority heroes,” De Vos and Lee, op. cit, pp. 281 - 298. About Misora Hibari, John Lie, “Ordinary (Korean) Japanese,” Koreans in Japan, edited by Sonia Ryang, NewYork: Routledge, 2000, p. 202. 13)Choi Yang-il chooses the similar strategy in his Tsukiwa dotchini deteiru All under the Moon(1994). See Koichi Iwabuchi, Ibid, pp. 60–63. 14)David Desser writes that R’s sister represents ‘orthodox left’. But he does not tell Japanese dress from Korean costume, and just interprets R’s sister in the context of old and new left politics. However, her scolding and protest within her Korean dress represents her as a Korean radical activist. See David Desser, op.cit, p. 156.
This film is based on the autobiographical novel of Yu Mi-ri, a third generation Resident Korean writer. While first and second generation writers have dealt with the themes of nostalgia (Kim Suk-bum), social discrimination (Yi Hoe-sung) and identity crisis (Yi Yang-ji), Yu Mi-ri treated her private experience of the patriarchal system in Resident Korean family. The domestic violence theme is easily found in the literature of her generation on Korean literature Journal in Japan.16) It is related to the generation gap in Korean community: first generation is immigrant worker, second generation show their diasporic characterstic if they have gone to Korean school, and third generation is accustomed to live in different identities–privately Korean and publicly Japanese and is less political than the diasporic second generation.17) The interracial marriage between Koreans and Japanese has been increased and many second generation parents decide to let their child enter Japanese schools and use Japanese names. So, third generation is culturally Japanese, and, if they use Japanese name, only what distinguishes them from Japanese is the Korean cuisine that they enjoy.
The film begins with the scene in which some film crews take pictures of a naked woman, which implies how the story proceeds in this film: the expose of Hayashi family’s story. Hayashi Yoko, the female actor of adult movie, tells her director about her family life, which leads into the director’s decision of making a movie about her family. So, she asks her family members to make family cinema for celebrating her birthday. Her divorced parents and Kazuki, her autistic elder brother, accept to join in her film. Their first shoot is located in the apartment of Motomi, Yoko’s elder sister. Motomi is perplexed when they come to her apartment and does not like to see family again. However, she cannot refuse Yoko’s request. During the shooting, father and mother just blame each other for their irresponsibility and prodigality without considering Japanese staff. Japanese staffs consider this fussy situation as this family’s ad lib.
Even father beats mother again and shout “You, dirty bitch!” in Korean language, which makes these siblings shocked and evokes their trauma of domestic violence in their childhood. Until this scene, it does not reveal that they are Resident Korean. It reveals that their trauma and indifference to each other are related to their experiences as Resient Koreans that the Japanese director and staff don’t care about. Their Koreanness is concealed under their surname Hayashi (pronounced as Im or Lim in Korea).18)
After this filming, Motomi goes to sculptor Fukami’s residence for business. She asks him to design new model for her company, but he does not take her offer. Suddenly, he begins to take photograph of her buttocks with a Polaroid and she bursts out. But, from then, she becomes his hip model and has sexual relation with him. But after he finishes designing, he gets a new woman who has big breast and their relationship does not maintain. Motomi expects that Fukami shows the image of good father, but he merely uses her. Nothing can make her dream come true.
Whereas Korean R and Japanese officers are almost together in
The characters of family member are described as follows: the father is a former pachinko(a gambling house) manager, which is one of typical jobs for Resident Korean men. He is irresponsible, obsessed with gambling, authoritative, anachronistic and wife-beating. If it is considered that there is thirty years gap between this film and
Mother is volatile, materialistic, vainglorious and quick-tempered. Her quick-temperedness and ferociousness are a stereotype endowed to Resident Korean women, which is easily found in poor first generation family.19) Now, she runs her own business and has her own lover. She also is proud of her new breast made through plastic surgery, which restores her pride as a woman but later she loses it because of the failure of surgery. At Motomi’s apartment for film shooting, mother blames father’s irresponsibility and wants to be shown as an attractive woman. So she tries to change her sexy dresses, which is not allowed by father and director, and drinks too much. After filming at the apartment, she asks Motomi to persuade father to transfer his big house to her for a new business. She is merely interested in her husband’s house. She confesses to Motomi that the Motomi’s father has never satisfied her sexually. She does not take care of her own son Kazuki but considers him as her pet.
At father’s big house, she sneaks into bathroom and checks stock market by a cell phone during the family dinner. Her isolation and secrecy in a bathroom reveals that she does not have any emotional ties with her ex-family members bu her materialistic character. By the opportunity of family reunion, she wants him to transfer the house to her. Later at the picnic, she still tries to persuade and reveals that father is retired from pachinko business and may not get pension or medical insurance any more. She breaks down his authority as much as he destroys himself.
Motomi becomes a white-collar worker and wants to distance herself from her family. The terrible family situation has made her commit suicide twice before – one with blaming herself and the other with being ostracized by other Japanese students. Even, in her middle schooldays, she was once raped by mother’s sex partner. Motomi has never spoken her rape. Nevertheless, Motomi’s mother has already known but never mentioned until she threatens her lover by almost setting a fire. Motomis is shocked with the fact that mother has already known but intentionally ignored for her own interest. Her traumatic experience does not make her accept father’s restoration of family. Then, she refuses mother’s request to persuade father and father’s request to live together. Her deficiency of parental care leads into her idealization of the sculptor Fukami as a ideal father figure though her expectation is later betrayed.
Kazuki and Yoko choose less terrible but more individual way to escape from family by being indifferent to the family: Kazuki falls in self-isolation, autism, and does not show emotional response to other family members while Yoko works as a female actor in adult movie industry. However, Kazuki still respects Motomi by telling that he will follow Motomi’s decision on family reunion despite his hatred to family.
In this film, the family reunion is always represented as ridiculous in front of Japanese film staff. As Japanese officers build the temporary paper set in a death chamber in
After they return from a hot spring, Motomi’s father and mother lose their pride – the his house and her plastic surgery breast. In the ending sequence, Hayashi family and film crews see the rough cut of film – the portrait of themselves – together without the father in a screening room. The mother bursts into tears, Kazuki says that his father just runs away for insurance, and Yoko says that she already assumes to have no family. They show their indifference to the family by ignoring their mother’s sorrow. The mother tells the director not to make this kind of film again and they come out of screening room. Even she yells not to take picture of them at the entrance gate. She and rest of Hayashi family realize that they are merely a spectacle.
15)Stuart Hall, “Minimal Selves,” Black British Cultural Studies:A Reader, edited by Houston A Baker.Jr, Manthia Diawara, and Ruth H. Lindberg, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 115. 16)Sonia Ryang, “Diaspora and beyond,” North Koreans in Japan:Language, Ideology, and Identity, Boulder: Westview Press, 1997, p. 191 17)Ryang, Ibid, pp. 196 - 200 18)To avoid discrimination, some Resident Koreans change their Korean names (honmei: original name) to Japanese names (tsumei:social name or pseudonym). About ‘name’ issue, see George Hicks, “5. Name,” Japan’s Hidden Apartheid: The Korean Minority and the Japanese, Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1997, pp. 66 – 85. 19)Yuzuru Sasaki and Hiroshi Wagatsuma, “Negative Self-Identity in a Delinquent Korean Youth,” De Vos and Lee, op.cit, pp. 336 – 340 and pp. 346 – 348.
Despite the attempt of some Japanese New Wave directors and the efforts of Korean writers, the negative image of Resident Koreans still appears in Japanese popular Film like Miike Takashi’s
However, like the former generation Residen Korean writers, new Resident Korean filmmakers express their voices such as Kim U-son, Choi Yang-il, Nakata Toichi (
Later, Choi Yang-il’s
* 필자는 이 논문 작성을 위해 도움을 주신 이와부치 고이치, 박혜정, 권용민씨에게 뒤늦게 감사드린다.