Seoul / A Failed Japanese Assimilation
With the expansion of Japanese imperialism, Japan started to colonize the neighboring south-east Asian countries. Being one of the closest countries to Japan, Korea was a clear target in Japan’s view. As the Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty was signed in 1910, Korea was completely colonized. Korean cities were under conquer of Japanese army. As Japan regarded Korea as the foothold on Asian continent, she wanted to assimilate Korean into ‘Japanese’. The colonial rules and policy led to a great impact to society and development at that time. However, it received a strong resistance and failed.
Instead of treating Korea as a part of the country, Japan government aimed to seize the natural resources and labor from Korea, making Korea as a fundamental back-up for Japanese expansion. Therefore the colonial policy in Korea tended to be strong and harsh.
“Japanese policymakers turned to European imperialist models, especially those of France and England, in developing strengthening its plan for assimilation policies. But, although Japanese used rhetoric that embraced assimilation, Japanese people themselves, from the top levels of government down, considered Koreans inferior and gave them few political rights.”
By Mark E. Caprio
Even through Japan government had built some infrastructures that potentially pushed Korea into a modernity stage, however, sociologically, the community and social structure of Korean and Japanese on this colonial place were completely different or it can be said they were born to be in superior and inferior social status. The unfair use of public space, inferior education system, ingrained prejudice and even the relatively limited intermarriage were often found at that time. With the increasing resistance towards the assimilation by Korean, the Korean-Japanese integration went to a failure. Even if Korea was under assimilation in the scope of policy and historical structure destruction, Korean kept the social culture in a hidden sense.
Mark Caprio (2009), Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945, The University of Washington Press