Languages & Cultures of East Asia

Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21   Fall 2000

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Lecture Outline, 10/25/00 - Koreans in China and Japan

Review: Marginalized groups in Japan


Where do they live?
Ainu people
assimilated to ethnic Japanese


Okinawa, other Ryukyu islands
1 million people
language (Ryukyuan)
little political autonomy; poor

burakumin ("village" + "person")

identical to other Japanese racially, ethnically, culturally, linguistically
     not linguistic minority

2-3 million (the largest minority group)

     employment, marriage opportunities

poverty, low education, unemployment (50%), crime, alcoholism

Koreans in Japan

immigration started in 1910 (the annexation of Korea to Japan)
brought to Japan unwillingly between 1938-1945 (war)
     cheap laborers and soldiers

suppression and assimilation policy
did not have the rights/privileges of Japanese citizens
treated as second-class nationals
Korean language and culture suppressed
     forced to abandon their ethnic identity
     had to assimilate to the Japanese norms
     had to use Japanese

after the war, many Koreans stayed
     the chaotic situation in Korea
     limitations imposed by the American occupational forces
     the outbreak of the Korean War

690,000 (plus 100,000 naturalized)
     mostly alien residents
     widely scattered, Korean ethnic ghettos in big cities

most do not know Korean
only 20% children go to ethnic schools
no government funding
government discourages it

identity: many change names to Japanese, low self-esteem
high rate of intermarriage, but many problems
negative self-identity

Koreans in China

immigration started in 1880s
accelerated after 1910

1.8 million
most live in northeastern region 42% in Yanbian
most born in China

political autonomy
ethnic schools at all levels, funded by the Chinese government

maintain a high level of ethnicity, culturally and socially
maintain their language, 90%
maintain traditional customs, sports and values

ethnic identity
proud of being Korean
consider themselves to be Koreans rather than Korean Chinese

factors contributing to different levels of ethnicity

1. minority policy

     China: recognizes the value of ethnic diversity
     encourages maintenance of minority languages and customs

     Japan: has not recognized Koreans as a minority group
     reat them as aliens
     most have chosen to remain as unnaturalized aliens
     no welfare benefits, not eligible for pensions
     no funding for Korean schools, abolished many Korean schools

2. immigrant vs. colonized minorities

     Japan: a majority of them moved there involuntarily
     looked at as second-class citizens

     China: went there for economic reasons
     accepted as equals

3. territorial base

     China: 40% of Koreans in Yanbian, an isolated area
     provides a territorial base for ethnic autonomy
     encourages interactions among Koreans

     Japan: widely scattered

4. influence from Korea

     China: close contact with Korea
     physical and political proximity
     exchange visits
     cultural exchange programs between North Korea and Yanbian

     Japan: has not kept close connections with Korea
     physical and political distance between Japan and Korea

in China: maintained high levels of ethnic autonomy and positive identity
in Japan: have lost most of their cultural tradition, suffered from negative ethnic identity