In 1912, Horii Duplication opened a branch office in Keijō, or present-day Seoul, aiming to sell what the company optimistically described as “a great invention of the East,” its patented tōshaban (K. tŭngsap’an) duplicator. The tŭngsap’an was, indeed, a remarkably accessible technology. It was simple and inexpensive to operate; it could reproduce images, roman letters, and East Asian scripts; and it was capable of generating duplicates on any type of paper using readily available ink. Tŭngsap’an technology was deeply implicated in Japanese expansionism from its inception, and in Korea, its role in enabling knowledge production, surveillance, and other forms of political control furthered the reach of the colonial state. Even so, tŭngsap’an duplication was widespread beyond official use, and its unique combination of affordances led colonial authorities to view the tŭngsap’an as both a tool for and a target of state surveillance, especially as independence activists utilized tŭngsap’an duplication in fluid and interactive ways to further resistance efforts. The paradoxes that tŭngsap’an duplication embodied make it a unique site of textual practice, and a rich vantage point from which to study how arrangements of power in colonial Korea were enacted, experienced, navigated, and contested.

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