"Grass without Roots": A Modern Perspective on Zainichi Koreans through History and Film

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-9806-4998
Cho, Yeonjun, East Asian Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Seeley, Joseph, AS-History, University of Virginia

For decades, due to their unique immigration history to Japan, the Zainichi Koreans have been a hugely debated topic in both the Korean peninsula and in Japan. Because of their ethnic Korean heritage, the Zainichi Koreans were viewed simply as “Koreans living in Japan” by many, and because of this viewpoint, the Zainichi Koreans faced many injustices from both Korea and Japan. This thesis aims to analyze the Zainichi Korean community through historical and cultural perspectives. The historical perspective will focus on providing a general overview of the Zainichi and the history behind the establishment of the Zainichi Korean community in Japan by utilizing a number of primary sources from both Korea and Japan regarding the “Zainichi Repatriation Project”. The cultural perspective will focus on the analysis of the film GO and its characters to uncover the changing cultural and social dynamics within the Zainichi community and to explain how the Zainichi view the topics of their own nationality and ethnicity. Ultimately, the exploration of both the historical and cultural perspectives of the Zainichi community will yield a more comprehensive understanding of the problems surrounding the Zainichi identity, and how we, as a global community, should approach the topic of Zainichi Koreans.

MA (Master of Arts)
Zainichi, Japan, Korea
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