Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login


The period of Japanese colonial rule on Korea is still a touchy subject for many people even today. Mailing lists of Koreans who collaborated, that is had anything to do with the Japanese government in Korea that was not fighting against it, are put out every month listing new peopleís names. Many of these collaborators were killed or had to flee the country after the Japanese left Korea after the second World War. Many Koreans view the Japanese colonial period as a dark period in their history, and it was. Not being able to govern a people and land you have governed for over a thousand years successfully is a crushing blow to a nation. Values have to be changed, ways of life have to be reorganized in your mind as to the new precepts of a foreign government. Usually a foreign power will take over a country for its own gain, as Japan did for the natural resources that Korea had. Japan also had different ideas in mind as well, using Korea as a strategic launching point to try and conquer the Chinese, but also on a level where they thought that the Koreans could become a very integral part of Japanese society and become Japanese. Japanís intentions were not just to use Korea as a resource but to also improve her industries and educate the Korean peoples as well. The commercial and industrial growth of Japanís leading prewar colonies of Korea and Taiwan lead some to suggest the colonial experience contributed greatly to subsequent economic growth, while other find little more than economic exploitation in the years of Japanís rule (McNamara 1). Japanís desire to colonize, but to not just view their colonies as just another resource as England did with the Americas and India, or other European countries, but rather to educate and assimilate the culture into its own was something the Japanese had done for years.

Japan left a lot of things in Korea after World War II. Not only did the Japanese completely revamp the Korean landscape on every level, politically, culturally, and most importantly, economically. Japanís takeover forced out the Yi dynasty that was losing power and control of the Korean power and falling into a stagnation period. Culturally the Japanese influence in Korea and the Korean reaction to the Japanese caused a massive surge of all things Korean to come to the forefront of Korean society. They used their own alphabet, took pride in Korean literature and poetry, rallied around Korean folk songs and music such as ponsori. Economically however, the Japanese turned a Korea that hated the idea of merchants and businessmen and turned it into a growing, blossoming, self-sufficient economy that was able to feed its people and export goods.

Although the Japanese state and private, corporate, and individual interests dominated the economy from 1910, the changes set in place in the next thirty-five years would affect the society and economy of South Korea well after liberation in 1945 (McNamara 3). The Japanese educated the Korean people in practical sciences that could be used for trade and in the industry, where under the Yi only the yangban could even hope to get any kind of education which was mainly to study Confucian classics and work as a government official. The Japanese left a longstanding legacy in Korea in some areas that are oddly coincidental, such as the grammatical structure of their two languages being very close to each other. This paper hopes to show that while the Japanese did oppress the Korean peoples, they also left them with a lasting effect to make them an economy on the verge of breaking out in the 21st century, oddly enough while Japanís is starting to fail. It shall show Japanís heavy influence in many areas, such as education and commerce, but mainly in the two fields that were focused on most heavily - agriculture and industry. Japan did know how to run a country with natural resources and use those resources to cultivate an economy, as they did twice with Taiwan and Korea.

Japan knew that eventually planning a war with China they would need the natural resources that simply were not available on the Japanese islands. After the Chinese were defeated by the Japanese in Korea during the Sino-Japanese war in the very early 20th century, Korea was from then on in destined to become that natural resource for Japan. Korea was a place for the Japanese to exploit three main things. The first was a source of cheap rice which could be added to the rice that was grown in Japan. Oddly enough, the consumption of rice by Koreans went down sharply even though they continued to produce more. In the later years, this was used for the war effort in Japan to feed the soldiers. The second was to use Koreaís other resources as well, such as lumber, mining, and fisheries. Finally, Korea was also regarded as a place for the Japanese to settle some of the excess population (Song, 39-40). This would provide Japan with industry and the raw materials it would need to launch a full scale war against the Chinese.

In Korea however, this made for a different story - especially to the Koreans themselves. During the early colonial period, the Corporation Law of 1911 restricted investments in non-agricultural sectors in order to prevent the establishment of new industries that might compete with similar industries in Japan. Thus, in Korea the bulk of non-agricultural products for domestic consumption was provided by the subsidiary activities within the household. The demand for highly fabricated products was mostly met by imports from Japan (Yamazaki 79). The Japanese limit the ability for Koreans to compete with the Japanese, but rather use their industry and goods as their own, furthering the idea that Korea is now part of the Japanese Empire. This is further reinforced later when the war effort turns its head towards Korea for help and in the booming industry that takes off in the 1930s.

The Japanese tried to develop the Korean economy both as their major source of food supply and as a major market for their manufactured products. The industrial distribution of Korean households in origin was overwhelming - 84.1 percent of the households were in the agriculture industry (Yamazaki, 73-74). This is the main starting point for the Japanese in Korea. The Japanese knew that they needed to focus heavily on the agriculture and land that was the Korean peninsula. The Japanese felt a very strong need for cheap rice to come into the Japanese market, which is what they had the Koreans focus on growing.


Shikata Hiroshi cited three changes in the early years of colonial rule: reorganizing the financial system, modernizing institutions for the circulation of money, and clarifying landownership. He concluded with the most salient characteristic of Korean capitalism at the time: the initiative and leadership of foreign capital (McNamara 36). The changes that the Japanese came about were not just simply agricultural or economic, but the Japanese were very concerned about modernizing and educating the Koreans, as well as organizing many of the things they had failed to do. The Choson dynasty had never kept very good land record and thus for the Japanese to cultivate the land they had to re-plot and re-distribute all of the land out to the farmers and landlords. The high land rent obtainable enabled landlords to increase rice exports to Japan. At the same time the land-tenure system imposed a heavier burden on tenant farmers. Thus the land-tenure system caused the bankruptcy of many tenant farms and the deterioration of rural conditions, although the overall growth of the agricultural product was substantial (Yamazaki 86). Showing that even though the Korean country was suffering in some places with poverty and hunger, the whole of the Japanese influence on Korean agriculture was mostly beneficial to the Korean peoples. It provided them with up-to-date tools and farming methods to get the most out of their land, as well as giving them needed experience with these new tools and concepts.

Eventually, over time the demand for rice began to increase dramatically from Japanís demands on Korea. This was mostly due to the large efforts that Japan was placed on the war with China, and eventually the Pacific theatre of World War II against the United States. The way to meet this sharply increasing demand for rice was to buy Korean rice forcibly at arbitrary prices. The idea was called the delivery system. The Japanese made a list of more than 40 kinds of agricultural products, including grain, cotton, linen, vegetables, pine resin, and rosin oil.. the system discouraged the Korean farmers from increasing their yields (Yamazaki 98). The Korean people were then forced to make this rice and sell it to the Japanese at a fraction of the cost, which in turn some of it was sold by the Japanese before the war broke out for a large profit - many of the Japanese zaibatsu (large family-based and owned corporations, such as the Mitsuii) produced their goods or parts for them in Korea where the labor for this was cheaper, then had the parts assembled and manufactured in Japan.

Two very important things started to come about at this time. One of them was the shift from agriculture to industrialization that happened during the 1930s in Korea, building up to the start of the war. The second was the realization that Korea just might never reclaim its independence from the Japanese juggernaut and thus Japan began to see the Koreans as part of the Japanese Empire - as Japanese themselves. Koreans were all transformed into imperial subjects... Korea was no longer just a commercial market, a source of raw materials, or an investment market for Japan. Korean had literally become an integral part of the Japanese Empire. Everything in Korea was subordinated entirely to Japanese strategic military needs (Yamazaki 95) This too was also caught up in the Japanese war movement at the end of the colonial period. One thing that was started in preparation for the war was the Korean industry, which was non-existent until Japan came in and started to build one.


Prior to the industrialization of the 1930s, there had been a few modern industries established in Korea during this period. Except for one textile factory, all were established by Japanese with financial support from Japan, in order to supplement the existing industries in Japan, or to take advantage of raw materials produced at low cost in Korea. These new industries, therefore, became complementary to Japanís industries rather than competitive (Yamazaki 89). This shows that even by Japanís greedy nature to expand and improve its own industries it was also helping the Korean people to learn valuable skills that they had never had the possibility of receiving before due to the Chosonís view on industry. Japan brought in modern technology for the Koreans to work with so they were able to learn using the newest machinery.

However, there was a method to what the Japanese were doing in Korea. During the rapid industrialization of the 1930s, a drastic change occurred in the Korean industrial structure.. on the whole, the type of output from the modern industries consisted on intermediate goods rather than final goods. These products were used by the Japanese industrial complex. Therefore, the new relationship between the new industries in Korea and the industrial complex in Japan was strictly complementary rather than competitive (Yamazaki 100). Thus by eliminating the possible competition and being able to produce goods cheaper, Japan was able to export more and sell more. Also, this provided Korean businesses the money for exporting to Japan, even though Korea was technically part of Japan to begin with at this time. The longer that Japan had been in Korea, the more significant the amount of imported good that came into Korea were from Japan. At the end of the colonization period in 1941, the percentage of Koreaís total imports was 88.3 from Japan alone (Yamazaki 80). Japan continued to focus on Korea as being an exporter of goods directly to the mainland at cheaper prices so that the Japanese could make a larger profit margin at the end of the year.

Basic themes in what would later emerge as two radically different models of a modern Korea now took center stage. A more moderate nationalism was apparent in the Products Promotion Campaign with leaders advocating the use of products, industry, and commerce as a path to economic self-sufficiency.. leftists promoted class consciousness and even class revolution, while moderates emphasized cultural changes such as greater freedom, equality, justice and humanistic concerns (McNamara 20-21). These types of Korean ideals were the seeds of Japanese thought that had been filtered down through the systems of what they learned. The Japanese had worked with many Koreans, now known as collaborators as I mentioned before, and these Koreans learned how to run a business and succeed from the Japanese. They also realized that they needed a strong economic policy to go along with their newfound skills and eventually freedom from the Japanese after the second World War was over. Unfortunately you can see very clearly even over the economy that Korea was slowly starting to divide itself.


The Japanese were able to provide Koreans with a boost economically that they desperately needed at that time in their history - a radical change. Many foundations for modern economic growth in the postwar period were inherited from the colonial days.. in addition to the modern facilities and the new institutions, the overall growth of the economy under Japanese administration demonstrated the Korean potential for rapid economic growth and industrialization. This demonstration effect surely made positive contributions to postwar economic growth. For instance. In the case of agriculture, the diffusion of new knowledge and methods of cultivation and new inputs was significant (Yamazaki 109). Continuing to show that the Japanese influence on Korea was, while oppressive politically and socially, economically the Japanese colonization of Korea was one of the best things that could have happened to it in that state in time.

Korea was stagnant and needed a large change to bring about new mercantile industry, and the Japanese had already gone through their own internal Meiji Revolution, then studied successful Western economies to model themselves after. The Japanese were focused on what they wanted out of Korea and what they were trying to give back. The colonial state has been aptly characterized as growth-oriented and interventionist in economic affairs, promoting the peninsula as a base for mineral, agricultural, and eventually manufactured exports (McNamara 34). Japan was largely concerned with getting Korea on its economic feet and being able to support the rest of the Japanese Empire when it needed to do so. This was very important for the Japanese, especially in the future. So, in conclusion, Japan has been shown to have been a very positive influence in some sections of the colonization, such as in the areas of education, but most importantly and drastically in the areas of agriculture and industry.
This was a final paper I wrote for my Asian Studies 337 class, which was on Modern Korean History (1600-present). My paper is on the affect that the Japanese occupation had on the Korean economy.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconsa-ja:
Sa-Ja Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2003
*dummysmack* ARGH!

why did I have to see this a DAY after my friggin project on this topic?! *goes insane*

:censored:
Reply
:iconna-insoo:
na-insoo Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2003
oopsy double post, sorry about that ^^b
Reply
:iconna-insoo:
na-insoo Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2003
Actually Korea boosted its own economy from the help of North Korea becuase they are the ones that bombed Seoul. They helped destroy Seoul. This led South Korea to rebuild everything again, this help their economy.

Btw, try not to end a paper with in conclusion. Overall it's a fairly good job.
Reply
:iconna-insoo:
na-insoo Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2003
Actually Korea boosted its own economy from the help of North Korea becuase they are the ones that bombed Seoul. They helped destroy Seoul. This led South Korea to rebuild everything again, this help their economy.

Btw, try not to end a paper with in conclusion. Overall it's a fairly good job.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconjohnayanami: More from johnayanami


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
April 10, 2002
File Size
0 bytes
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
193
Favourites
0
Comments
4
×