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321 Government by the Bayonet and the March First Movement The Nature of Colonial Rule The fateful Korean-Japanese annexation treaty not only culminatedtheprocessof Japan’sdominationof Koreabutheraldedthedemiseof the Chosŏn dynasty. Despite the people’s resentment and bitter opposition, Korea had become a colony of the Japanese empire. Following annexation, the Japanesebegana35 -yearperiodof colonialrulethatprofoundlyaffectedthemanner in which modern Korea took shape. JapanesecolonialruleinKoreawasunusuallyharshanddestructive,producing virtually no benefit for the Korean people. It was severely systemic and pervasive , an extension of ingrained feudal attitudes that even today influence the behavior of the Japanese toward one another. Having assigned the Koreans an inferiorstatus,Japanesecolonialadministrators,withunlimitedzeal,naturally applied the hierarchical standards of their own society to the Koreans. Japan built huge bureaucracies in Korea, all of them highly centralized and too big by colonialstandards.Inthemid-1930s,inIndia,some12,000Britishgoverned340 million Indians (a ratio of 1 to 28,000), whereas in Korea approximately 52,000 Japanese ruled 22 million Koreans (1 to 420). The Koreans could not escape the 8 THE PERIOD OF JAPANESE COLONIAL RULE (1910–1945) 322 A History of Korea tight control of a police state, where their political suppression by Japan was thorough and far-reaching. Free speech, free press, suffrage, and representative governmentweretotallyabsent.KoreaescapedtheharshJapanesecolonialrule only in August 1945, when Japan yielded to the U.S. and Soviet onslaught that brought an end to World War II. In the first decade of colonial rule, the Japanese relied on a heavy-handed “military policy,” mainly because of the fierce Korean resistance to Japanese control in the period from 1905 to 1910. Even schoolteachers wore uniforms and carriedswordstostriketerrorintoKoreanhearts,whichhadbeenunheardof in colonialhistory.Asacivilian-ledgovernmentwithcomparativelyliberalpolitical orientations was formed in Japan proper in the early 1920s, these excesses and abuses were curbed somewhat. At this juncture, the Koreans were allowed to publish their own newspapers and organize themselves politically and intellectually .Theensuingintellectualandsocialfermentof the1920smarkedaseminalperiodinmodernKoreanhistory .Manydevelopmentsof thattime,includingtheorganizationof laborunionsandothersocialandeconomicmovements, exerted their influence into the post-liberation period. But when illiberal forces represented by the military reasserted themselves in the mid-1920s, colonial rule became harsh once again. This trend was further strengthened during the 1930s and 1940s.1 All of Korea was totally mobilized for the Japanese invasion andoccupationof China,whichexpandedintothePacific,forcingtheKoreans to assimilate even more as Japanese within their own country. The objective of the Japanese colonial administration was always to rule and exploit the colony to serve only Japanese interests. The spearhead of Japanese rule in Korea, and at the apex of a highly authoritarian, centralized governmentstructure ,wastheOfficeof theGovernment-General,formerlytheOffice of the Resident-General. The governor-general, appointed by the Japanese emperor from among the highest echelons of the Imperial Japanese Army’s active list, was independent of the Japanese cabinet.2 He enjoyed almost complete freedom in the colonial administration. Under his command were five ministries —Secretariat; General Affairs; Internal Affairs; Finance, Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry; and Administration of Justice—which in turn had subordinate agencies including the Interrogation Bureau, the Bureau of the Superintendent -General of Police Affairs, the Railroad Bureau, the Communications Bureau, the Monopoly Bureau, and the Temporary Land Survey Bureau, as well as courts and prisons. The colony was divided into 13 provinces, locally administered, and each was subdivided into pu (cities) and counties (made The Period of Japanese Colonial Rule 323 up of townships). The Japanese established a military police system, in which the police exercised vast powers in peacetime as well as in civil administration and judicial affairs. Alarmed at the intense Korean resistance to colonial rule, Japan stationed two army divisions throughout the colony, including in Seoul. Virtually all key positions, both in the government and in major business and financial enterprises, were staffed by the Japanese. Landholding was drastically “reformed,” and the Japanese appropriated large agricultural tracts for themselves. Agricultural and industrial production in Korea was directed only to serve the needs of Japan, and enough food was produced for all purposes. The Koreans, as subjects of the Japanese emperor, could enjoy, in theory, the same status as the Japanese, but in practice Japan treated the Koreans as an inferior and conquered people. The Government-General enacted laws legalizing racial discrimination against the Koreans, making them second-class citizens. Education served as a means of justifying such racism. The Japanese monopolized all supervisory and managerial positions in the government, the police, and the factories, and restricted Koreans to clerical positions. A Korean worker labored much longer hours and received half the wages paid to a Japanese worker. The average Japanese, whether in Korea or Japan proper, perceived...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253000781
Related ISBN
9780253000248
MARC Record
OCLC
826449509
Pages
720
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-02
Language
English
Open Access
No
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