Monday, June 18, 2012

Offspring of Empire: The Koch'Ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945 Carter J. Eckert

日本帝国の申し子 [単行本]
カーター・J・エッカート (著), 小谷 まさ代 (翻訳)

Offspring of Empire: The Koch'Ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945 (Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) [ペーパーバック]
Carter J. Eckert (著)

Required Korean Government Reading May 2, 2001
By A Customer
OFFSPRING OF EMPIRE: THE KOCH"ANG KIMS AND THE COLONIAL ORIGINS OF KOREAN CAPITALISM 1876-1945 is a detailed economic, historical, and biographical polemic about the origins of capitalism in Korea. The author argues, that Japanese "(c)olonialism...for better or worse...was the catalyst and cradle of industrial development in Korea...". Using the example of two brothers, Kim Songsu and Kim Yonsu, Eckart reveals a rough portrait of middle-class life in pre-and-Occupation-era Korea. Wading through economic statistics, newspaper clippings, boardroom minutes, and interviews, the author also contends against nationalistic, whether South Korean ("sprouts theory") or North Korean, theories of Korean development. What remains is the disturbing thought, that the glue holding nationalism together on the Korean peninsula, is morally bankrupt.
Although this book was published originally in 1991 (reprinted in 1997), the full effect of the events it describes are still unfolding. Relations between the two Koreas, and both Koreas' relations with foreign nations, particularly Japan, China, Russia, and the United States, are complicated by questions from just this period of history. Where is Korea? Who are the Koreans? Both these basic questions continue to unnerve Koreans as they try to locate themselves in the larger world outside Asia. Eckart's argument undermines the Korean argument, that Koreans were developing into a modern nation just like any western nation. He also undermines the role of Koreans in the capitalist development of their own country. He even, by questioning the origins of Park Chung Hee's inspiration for developing South Korea after the Occupation, undermines all of Korea's development efforts. One is left with the disturbing thought, that Korea, as the average Korean loves to say, is the land of one racial group, a theory fraught with serious moral implications.

Eckart's argument also frustrates the search for an alternative to authoritarian development by a strong government, whether colonialist or Park-esque. Its as if the Americans had crowned Washington after all, instead of devising an original alternative to the despotism the revolutionaries had just defeated. As Korea stumbles through reform with a president highly unpopular and limited by constitutional restrictions, these thoughts,this book raises,take on more urgency.

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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A Classic Analysis Deserves Larger Readership September 19, 2000
A Kid's Review
OFFSPRING OF EMPIRE is, in one aspect, history of a powerful landlord family, Kochang Kims, their interactions with Japanese colonial authorities and the active role they played in the growth of textile and other industries throughout 20th century Korea. More broadly and importantly, it is a rigorous and insightful analysis of the emergence of industrial capitalism in Korea. When it was initially published, the book received criticism from Korean scholars for challenging the then-dominant model of the nationalist scholarship; "sprout theory," or the notion that indigenous sprouts of industrial capitalism were nipped by the colonial exploitation by the Japanese. Recently, however, nationalist scholarship has come under attack by a new generation of Korean historians. Much of the nationalist criticism -- including the claim that the book "rationalizes" Japanese colonial rule -- were operating under the (unstated) assumption that economic development was an unquestioned good, and since the Japanese colonial rule was evil, it could not possibly have helped Korean economic development. Some young Korean historians are now seriously questioning this assumption. Economic development , in either colonial or postcolonial Korea, no longer appears to be an unquestioned good, given its gross human rights violations, environmental destruction and other negative legacies. (North Korea in its way had to deal with the legacy of colonialism -- it can be seen as a nation where nationalism, emerged as an oppositional ideology to the Japanese colonial rule, has been elevated to the level of religious credo. The result of this, as we all can plainly see, has been disastrous to the basic human dignity of North Koreans) The evidence for continuties between colonial and postcolonial regimes is too numerous and obvious to be brushed aside. The fact that there was economic development under the colonial rule by no means justifies or excuses the Japanese domination, an act of profound disregard and contempt for the people of Korea. Acknowledging this fact simply opens the way for raising more questions and topics to be investigated about the nature of Japanese colonialism. The critical attitude of many young Korean historians indicates, indeed, that one of the most important negative legacies of Japanese colonialism, i.e. absolutist, unyielding allegiance to nationalism, (which so often breaks down into the "blood is thicker than water" variety of ethnic chauvinism) is becoming the thing of the past. Read OFFSPRING if you are interested in modern Korean history, modern Japanese history and East Asian economic development, and make up your own mind.

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