This article examines post-1945 autobiographical writings by alleged pro-Japanese collaborators, focusing on how these ex-colonized Korean writers represented their “shameful” pasts. Autobiographical narratives that confess to writers’ collaborations are customarily interpreted as excuses or self-justifications for collaboration that distort colonial memories. This customary reading of autobiographical writings, based on the factuality and sincerity of the narratives, seems to derive from a preceding literary practice of reading sosŏlga sosŏl (novels about novelists) during the late colonial period, a tacit contract between reader and author of expecting fiction to represent the author’s transparent life narrative. In challenging this mode of reading, this article traces the rhetorical styles and effects and the complexities of the political and ethical implications of two famous confessions of collaboration: Yi Kwangsu’s My Confession and Ch’ae Mansik’s “Sinner of the People.” In doing so, this article demonstrates how specific rhetorical devices produce the sincerity of the autobiographical texts and give closure to the dishonorable colonial past. The author presents a new approach to pro-Japanese collaboration by exploring the arduous task of closure, self-reflection, and decolonization undertaken by Korean writers in the postliberation period, when the decolonizing project was deemed a failure.

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