Today historians hesitate to judge collaborators with the Axis powers in World War II, citing the impossibility of putting oneself in the often untenable position collaborators found themselves. Nonetheless, contemporary moral philosophy continues to ponder the ethical choice of complicity versus resistance. Yi Kwang-su (1892–1950?), Korea's most distinguished modern novelist as well as one of its more notorious pro-Japanese partisans during the colonial period, offers a compelling test case for how we might attempt to not only understand, but also morally adjudicate, his support of Japan's occupation of his country. With the ongoing debate over collaboration with the German Reich in mind, I contend that the case of colonial Korea presents us with important first-order ethical issues to resolve.

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