Todd A. Henry looks into the restructuring of public spaces in the colonial capital of Seoul to analyze the contradictory attempt of the Japanese colonial regime to “assimilate” Koreans as loyal but distinctively colonized subjects of the Japanese empire. Assimilating Seoul is hardly the first work that deals with this central policy of Japanese rule, but the author reframes it in two ways, making his study a novel contribution to the current understanding of assimilation. First, he extends the meaning of assimilation to include not just distinctive Japanization but also things that can “be captured under the more universal rubric of modernization” (5). That is, in addition to discussing the conversion to the Japanese religion of Shintoism, which he terms “spiritual assimilation,” the author includes material and civic assimilations, by which he means, respectively, the effort to produce a productive workforce...
Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910–1945
Jung Lee is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of History and Philology at the Academia Sinica, Taiwan. She is preparing a book based on her dissertation (Seoul National University, 2013), which discusses the politically charged process of globalizing modern botanies by analyzing cross-cultural knowledge interactions in and around Korea under Japanese rule. She has focused on the history of colonial science and technology in order to understand global modernization, usually associated with characteristically modern and Western expertise. She hopes to better articulate the characteristics of modern expertise and its dynamic relationship with society by furthering her explorations of premodern and postcolonial East Asia.
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Jung Lee; Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910–1945. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 December 2016; 10 (4): 489–492. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3483071
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