This week our lecture is titled “‘Blackness’ and Postcoloniality in Korean Literature and Culture.” Our speaker is Dr. An Jee Hyun from department of English Literature at Seoul National University.
I am a Black American living in Tokyo, Japan for the past 17 years. I was very impressed by the speaker's in-depth analysis, but I felt she barely scrapped surface of the importance of the depiction of non-whites in Korean literature. To the point, the virulent racism on the part of White American soldiers went a lot further in its contribution to the messy depictions that entered print. The same thing has happened here in Japan, and not only is it in print, but it is on the street everyday when I go about my daily life.
The Japanese long ago vilified Blacks (as long ago as the 16th century) in art and in Post-War Japan they further championed that cause with depictions of blacks, and East Asians too, as less elegant than Whites and unable to occupy the second tier, which they have reserved for themselves.
I now wonder if the Korean angst towards Blacks is in part left over from their colonial legacy.
I also question her remarks as they relate to history. Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula from August, 1910. I fell like she left out almost 3,000 days.
Still I was thrilled by the podcast and have forwarded the link to a Japanese scholar of African-American Literature who has been a scholar-in-residence at Princeton.
Finally, I have visited Seoul several times and can never forget the looks of hesitancy on people's faces in dealing with me because I wear a beard and therefore could not be military, hence, how to deal with me. It was a hoot.