Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 / Edition 1

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In the rich and varied life stories in Under the Black Umbrella, elderly Koreans recall incidents that illustrate the complexities of Korea during the colonial period. Hildi Kang here reinvigorates a period of Korean history long shrouded in the silence of those who endured under the "black umbrella" of Japanese colonial rule. Existing descriptions of the colonial period tend to focus on extremes: imperial repression and national resistance, Japanese subjugation and Korean suffering, Korean backwardness and Japanese progress. "Most people," Kang says, "have read or heard only the horror stories which, although true, tell only a small segment of colonial life."

The varied accounts in Under the Black Umbrella reveal a truth that is both more ambiguous and more human—the small-scale, mundane realities of life in colonial Korea. Accessible and attractive narratives, linked by brief historical overviews, provide a large and fully textured view of Korea under Japanese rule. Looking past racial hatred and repression, Kang reveals small acts of resistance carried out by Koreans, as well as gestures of fairness by Japanese colonizers. Impressive for the history it recovers and preserves, Under the Black Umbrella is a candid, human account of a complicated time in a contested place.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this riveting and highly informative collection of oral histories, Kang has intricately woven together these voices into an impressive history of the Japanese colonial period that tells the story of people who lived their lives under the duress of the Japanese. . . . This is an important book and sheds light on areas not often covered in other works. Most assuredly, Kang's book is a valuable addition to the growing body of works on the Japanese colonial period. The 'voices' that Kang has collected for her book present a fresh view, not to mention a clearer picture of this period of Korean history."—Jeffrey Miller, Korea Times (3 August 2001)

"It is often said that Japan's colonial ventures produced two contrasting legacies: bitterness in Korea and positive memories in Taiwan. This book argues that Koreans had in fact more mixed experiences."—Foreign Affairs (January/February 2002)

"The recollections that Kang collected contribute an essential (but to date neglected) ingredient to our understanding of Korea's colonial history. Their contents disturb the neat package that pits the colonizing (Japanese) aggressor against the colonized (Korean) victim."—Mark Caprio, Korean Studies Review (2002)

"Whereas history is usually a story of 'great men' told by its 'winners,' Hildi Kang's Under the Black Umbrella offers new insights into Korean history as it was lived every day by ordinary people. The diversity and heterogeneity of human experiences in this book challenge the oversimplified story of the Japanese colonial period in Korea that has held sway in Korean history until now."—Elaine M. Kim, University of California, Berkeley

"For its many voices and for the candor that comes from those voices, Under the Black Umbrella is a book of exceptional merit. Through the observations and reminiscences of Koreans who lived under Japanese rule, Hildi Kang shows us an interesting and mostly unknown picture of daily life in a neglected colony."—Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

"Under the Black Umbrella is a pioneering collection of oral histories of Koreans who lived through the turbulent years of Japanese rule. It has many rich, vivid, and moving stories that reveal diversity and complexity of colonial life. No doubt this book will be a valuable addition to the growing body of works on colonial Korea in the West."—Gi-Wook Shin, University of California, Los Angeles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801472701
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,533,804
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Collecting the Interviews
Conventions Used

1. First Encounters

2. Shouts of Independence
3. A Map Changed My Life—Hong Ŭlsu
4. Choosing an Education
5. Through the Eye of a Needle—Kang Pyŏngju
6. Business Ventures and Adventures
7. I Almost Went to Canada—Yi Okhyŏn

8. A Red Line Marks My Record—Yi Hajŏn
9. Passive Resistance
10. Thought Police Stay for Dinner—Yu Hyegyŏng
11. Becoming Japanese
12. Drafted to the Kobe Shipyards—Chŏng Chaesu
13. The War Effort
14. Mansei Korea Forever—Ten Thousand Years

A. The Interviews
B. Bringing the Stories Up to Date, 1945-1997
C. Historical Overview, 1850-1945

Index of Proper Names

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Customer Reviews

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