According to the recent Korean history, Korea was Japan’s colony from 1910 to 1945. It is obvious that both our and our parent’s generations had not experienced anything, but my grandmother had. During studies of cultures and their superiority in sociology, I recognized the story which my grandmother used to tell me. The idea from my grandmother’s story was used in this research, and it is about the cultural superiority and how the colonizer took an action, in order to inculcate colonized mind to Korean civilians.
My girlfriend’s father had a Korean homestay during the Japanese colonial era. Consequently, girlfriend’s grandmother, 82 years old, was used as the other interviewee; thus, the research could contain differences between the people who were in the domestic country, and who were not, during the Japanese colonial era. The phone interview with my grandmother was used in the research, and she answered how the colonization had been processed and how much it affected people. On the meeting with my girlfriend’s grandmother during the spring break, he was asked her how the Korean exchange student behaved and acted at a particular time. This research seems strongly objective. It did not only depend on the subjected opinion or idea from both old generations, as some of the expert’s opinions were gathered from my university professor.
It was studied how the Japanese culture was biased over Korean cultures, and how much Korean civilians were colonized and affected by cultural superiority. This was a significant opportunity to learn what the actual sociological fact with both objective and subjective research was. The hypothesis for this project was, “although Japan’s cultural superiority forced us to be colonized, we were not much influenced, because the history of colonization is too short and Koreans also resisted as much as they could”.
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The main method that was used to gather information was interviews. This was successful, since there was an ability to influence positive response from the participants, and they found it amusing. Interview was carried out with participants being my grandmother and my girlfriend’s grandmother. With my grandmother, it was more of a story rather than an interview, thus there was just the summarization of the findings. The following was an interview with my girlfriend’s grandmother who is Japanese.
Question: do you agree with the idea that Koreans were colonized by Japanese?
Response: yes, they were colonized, however, I can say, partially.
Question: do you think that Koreans had their own culture that they valued before the invention of Japanese?
Response: Koreans had their own cultures which they highly recognized, and they found the need of protecting them. They thought that their cultures were responsive to a well-up society and peaceful relations between citizens.
Question: what do you understand about the Korean cultures?
Response: the Korean cultures before 1910 where those of the traditional societies. People were not modernized; however, there was some light of modernization in different sectors.
Question: according to your understanding on colonization and experience from other countries that were colonized, do you think that Japanese had enough power and time to shape the Korean culture and make it almost similar to theirs?
Response: the reaction of Koreans to Japanese rule was never exciting or something to be proud of. This is because over 7,000 Koreans were reported to be dead. The Koreans were aggressive; they thought that our cultures were quite unfit for them. The colonization took a few years to compare to other colonized countries. This made it hard for Japanese to shape the Korean culture to the level they wanted.
Question: do you consider Japanese invention to Korea to be important in any way?
Response: I think that from the dawn of the 19th century modernization was been highly recognized. Since Japanese were aimed at accelerating modernization in Korea, they could have immensely helped the modernization in Korea. Despite this, there must be negative things when one society tries to affect the culture of another society. Although, people were talking about western cultures being vital, these cultures had a negative impact on the cultures in the country.
From the interviews, it is evident that Koreans had their own cultures which they highly recognized. The cultures were different from those of the Japanese, since they did not recognize western cultures like the Japanese. They resisted protecting their cultures; however, some of them were eroded. Japanese did not get enough time to change the Korean culture to fit theirs, since Koreans were always resisting aggressively through wars. It is also evident that the western culture was introduced; however, this resulted into poor living conditions of the people. The Koreans are said to have been in darkness, as they were modernizing at a slow pace. This made them not to be at par with many nations in the world. The Japanese, therefore, had the aim of accelerating modernization in the country.
According to the participants in the research, Korea was a backward society compared to other countries that had modernized. This was, however, important to the Koreans, since it promoted the proper social and economic life. They were far behind compared to other countries in terms of social, economic and political development. Although the country was in the process of modernizing, this was quite slow, and Japanese thought that there was a need of accelerating social, economic and political growth in the country. It was, however, a difficult task, since Koreans were quite aggressive to the rule of the Japanese (Seth 14). They wanted to regain their independence in the shortest time possible. Despite this, it is evident that cultures in Korea were influenced by the Japanese invention. Socially, there are different ways in which the Japanese culture affected cultures of Koreans.
Cultures that were introduced in Korea are said to be western cultures that were aimed at enlightening Koreans and making them part of the modernizing world. Korean culture was eroded and swiftly transformed, making the way of life of the Koreans change. Different researchers have, however, found out that the social changes that took place in Korea due to Japan colonization were minimal, compared to other countries that were colonized (Bauer 17). This can be said to have been attributed to the high resistance from Koreans.
One significant thing to note is that Korean traditional culture was characterized by the long and continuous existence as a unified country. Korea had been termed as a Korean nation, since they had proved to be a homogenous country (Seth 21). The cultural nationalism described has helped Korea to promote the cultural identity policy.
Other Korean cultures like influence of Confucianism, the ruling ideology of the Choson dynasty, were eroded. With Confucianism, humanity, ethical morality and spiritual self-cultivation they were highly upheld, but this was eroded as material needs exceeded spiritual, needs due to the Japanese interference (Bauer 22).
Negatively, Japanese have contributed to the divisions in Korea that have increased phenomenally from 1945. Korean people were known to be ethnically and linguistically homogenous, but this was not the case since the end of the Japanese era. Differences have emerged in the language, culture and arts. This has resulted into differences between the South Korea and North Korea.
According to Koreans, the Japanese culture was characterized by violence, materialism, commercialism and sensuality, making totally different from the Korean culture. Korean cultural identity was confused, leading to an increased individualism and hedonism. Despite this, Koreans tried their level best to control this through the strong resistance (Ching 21). They were ready to lose all they had provided to maintain their cultures.
The Koreans were never pleased with the changes in the culture. Since they had not taken a deeper influence, probably because of the short period of colonization, Koreans, after the era, continued doing research on Japanese and Korean cultures, so that they could regain their cultures. This is totally different from the case of other countries that were colonized, because they could not be in a position to regain their cultures (Everett and Lau 12). They just continued the new culture and their cultures that had not been eroded. The cultural change was, therefore, minimal, since they were able to regain some of their cultures. This was not the case in other colonized countries which totally adopted cultures of colonizers.
Culture in Korea is recognized as a motivating factor towards positive economic and political growth. This is the reason why culture policy has taken the rule and culture, and education to be defined as the ‘second economy.’ This is enhanced through the emphasis of the traditional culture. The Koreans, therefore, have an understanding that their traditional cultures have an impact on positive growth of the society, thus, they are trying to regain the eroded cultures (Burgi-Golub 21).
Colonization in Korea by Japanese was a period of accelerated modernization. It was been noted that the culture of two countries was totally different. Koreans valued their traditional culture, and they tried to preserve it, however, some of them, for instance, the recognition of spiritual life before the material life, were eroded. The Japanese cultural superiority forced Koreans to be colonized. Despite this, the cultural influence did not go deeper; this is even why Korea through its leaders has been trying to practice its traditional culture after the Japanese rule. One main reason that has been found to have contributed to the less impact on the Korean culture is the short period of colonization. The Koreans were aggressive, and they were ready to fight against the Japanese rule. That is why over 7,000 Koreans were killed during the war. The Koreans were organized by a condition brought about by their traditional culture. This helped them to resist the rule of the Japanese. Even today, there is still research on Korean traditional cultures, in order to make them be in use. However, it is notable that the Japanese intervention had an impact on the living of Koreans. This can be seen from differences that have come out from 1945. The South Korea and North Korea have become different in language, art and education, and this has its roots on colonization by Japanese.
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