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Japan's North Koreans

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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The latest edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review features a brief article about (North) Koreans in Japan. Just wanted to share it:

In the 1920s and 1930s, during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, hundreds of thousands of Koreans were brought to Japan to work in factories, primarily in Osaka and Kobe. During World War II, even more Koreans were brought to replace Japanese workers as the war took Japan's own labour force to the battlefield. By the end of the war and Japan's withdrawal from Korea there were 2.4 million Koreans in Japan. But by 1950 rapid repatriation reduced the number to half a million. While the first generation of Koreans in Japan were mainly day labourers, many in the second generation, with little chance of social and economic advancement within Japanese companies, started small businesses such as pachinko parlours and Korean restaurants. Many third- and fourth-generation Koreans have become even better educated, and a fair number of them have university degrees and work for major companies. Politically, the Koreans in Japan have always been bitterly divided, with many holding strong sympathies for the northern regime, though the vast majority of Koreans in Japan come from the south of the Korean peninsula--97%, according to Sonia Ryang, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. and author of a book on the group.

Chongryun, the association founded in 1955 that groups Koreans supporting Pyongyang, has provided many of them with a firm identity as "overseas nationals of North Korea." Until only a few years ago, Chongryun schools in Japan were even using the same text books as in North Korea. By contrast the rival pro-South Korea association, Mindan, has had a much weaker profile. Before South Korea became democratic in the late 1980s, Mindan was itself divided between dissidents and supporters of the regime in Seoul. The division among Koreans in Japan is not simply ideological: it's officially registered on their alien-registration cards. Under the category of "nationality," Japanese authorities label Koreans as either Chosen--from the North's name for Korea--or Kankoku, from the South Korean name, Hankuk. For years, all Koreans in Japan were treated as "foreigners" and denied citizenship. It is now easier for Koreans in Japan to become Japanese citizens, but many Chongryun members have no interest in doing so, feeling it would deprive them of their national identity.

=> http://www.feer.com/articles/2003/0303_27/p022region.html (registration Required)
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