This article examines the genealogy of postcolonial state culture in South Korea in the context of the changing imperial order in East Asia. First, we reveal an uneasy, uncomfortable, and antagonistically complicit relationship between colonial culture, anticolonial culture, and postcolonial state culture. We show that, despite the widely held view that Ilminchuŭi, the official state policy of the Syngman Rhee regime, was a fascist ideology, it was in fact developed from anticolonial ethnic discourses in Korea. In addition, despite its alleged “nationalist democracy,” Ilminchuŭi resembled Japan's statism. This raises the important question of how it was possible for postcolonial state culture to resemble both a colonial culture and an anticolonial culture. Thus, second, we explain this relationship through the concept of homology. Through its defensive and confrontational engagement with the colonial culture, the anticolonial culture came to share epistemological frames with the colonial culture. This relationship was homological in that the two cultures shared the same origin but had different qualities. We show that, in the context of the change in the regional hegemon from Japan to the United States during the postcolonial era, Ilminchuŭi was born as an unwelcomed synthesis of both.
Ou-Byung Chae; Homology Unleashed: Colonial, Anticolonial, and Postcolonial State Culture in South Korea, 1930–1950. positions 1 May 2015; 23 (2): 317–347. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2861014
Download citation file: