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This chapter introduces the historical terrain in which colonial Korean culture was turning Japanese, with the suppression of the Korean language and rise of Japanese-language speaking subjects and mass media sources. This important but little-understood history of the colonial encounter between proximate neighbors is used as a case study to propose the need for a more nuanced perspective on comparative empires and the problem of colonial modernity. This chapter proposes to consider what it calls the “shared but disavowed” history of colonial modernity as the experience of modernity under colonial subjection, whether reality or threat. This in fact was the experience of modernity shared by the global majority although not recognized as such. The antinomy of colonial modernity is seen as a self-divided and contradictory one, at the heart of which is a denial of the recognition and representation of their human effort that this book calls the “conundrum of representation.”

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