Comparative Study of Korean Diaspora in China, Russia, the United States and Japan
Comparative study on Korean Diaspora in China, Russia, the United States and Japan
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|Affiliation:||Primorsky Territory Government/Far Eastern Federal University|
Purpose of the study The purpose of this research is to develop a new approach towards construction of the ethnic boundary as risk reduction and social trust formation mechanism on the example of Korean diaspora. The Korean Diaspora in China, Russia, the United States, and Japan illustrate how this process correlates with nationalism of host societies and how it can be different and similar at the same time.
The AKS Fellowship results
During my one month stay at AKS I have revised and expanded PhD thesis to prepare it for publication. Specifically, the new chapter on Chinese Korean ethnic education and sub-chapter on Korean American political discourse has been added to the main body of dissertation. Parts of the chapter on Chinese Koreans will be published in 2016 spring edition of Asian Ethnicity with reference to research grant provided by The Academy of Korean Studies. The sub-chapter on Korean American political discourse is under preparation for submission to an American journal (presumably Journal of Asian American Studies). I also have modified the content of dissertation with the stronger focus on correlation between ethnicity of Korean Diaspora and nationalism of host societies. Besides, I divided it into two parts and each part will be published as different books. The first book is “Comparative Study of Korean Diaspora in China, Russia, the United States and Japan” is more theoretical that focuses on overseas Koreans strategies of integration into host society from the perspective of social complexity studies. The second book about Korean Americans is the study that is more practical and describes economic, political and artistic self-representations of Koreans in the United States.
Research object The main object of research is the local communities of Korean diaspora. These local communities are represented by four cities with relatively large Korean populations. In China, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Yanji-city with nearly 200,000 Korean population. In Russia, the Primorsky region and Ussuriysk-city in particular had about a hundred thousand Koreans in 1917 and nearly twenty thousand at the beginning of 2010s. In the United States, Los Angeles Korea town has 120,000 residents. In Japan, the Kansai region of Osaka has about 130,000 Koreans and Kyoto, another thirty thousand Japanese Koreans. The time span is post-World War II era and especially 1991 – 2014 period when ex-socialist countries integrated into capitalist global economy. The focus group is younger generations ages 18 – 30. It will help to show how they used historical experience of the past generations and developed new ways to obtain trust from host society. The choice of the Korean diaspora in countries like China, Russia, the United States and Japan for this study requires an explanation. The first reason is that Korean immigrants are a window to a process of social evolution that allows one to observe formation of clear patterns of ethnicity risk regulation. They have a long history of residing outside of the current boundaries of Korea, averaging about a hundred years and having from three to five generations. A second reason is that Russia, China, the United States and Japan represent different paths to modernization which strongly impacted formation of ethnicity among Korean immigrants. China represents an example of East Asian socialist modernization. Russia is an example of socialist modernization (and post-socialist de-modernization). The United States is a classic example of capitalist modernization and Japan represents an example of East Asian capitalist modernization. In addition, all four countries have relatively large Korean populations— close to 2 million (China), close to 150,000 (Russia), nearly 1.5 million (USA), over a half million (Japan), respectively. The selection of these particular sites and groups needs additional clarification. Three regions in particular were selected— the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in case of Chinese Korean diaspora, the Primorsky region in case of Russian Korean diaspora, the Los Angeles metropolitan area in case of Korean American diaspora and the Kansai region in case of Japanese Korean diaspora. Each of the region’s Korean community is representative example of the different types of social risks regulation in terms of cultural differences. In addition to their numbers, the Korean diaspora’s varying responses to their host societies’ political trends in the Primorsky region, centers of Korean ethnic education in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, economic changes in Los Angeles, and moral issues in the Kansai region make their study a worthy pursuit.
Present research related to research plan Previous studies on the Korean diaspora in Russia examine different interaction strategies of social integration of Korean immigrants into host society. The advantage of these approaches is that they can show how particular individuals and social groups interact with external objects such as the larger society negotiating their identities. The interaction paradigm explains variations of social boundaries formation in terms of the ethnic culture’s uneven interaction with economy, politics, art, and religion of the host society or country of origin. Yet these this approach fails to explain how ethnicity functions and how it applies to the Korean diaspora. It reduces social complexity to individual motivations and these individual motivations combine to influence ethnicity of all Koreans in the diaspora even though individual motivations may have different economic, religious, moral, artistic, or political backgrounds. Moreover, the interactionist approach reduces economics, politics, or religion to only particular forms of description of a given Korean diaspora in terms of differences between individual and collective, society and state, minority and majority and the difference between individuals. It does not describe how members of society deal with these differences beyond interactions.
Methodology The theoretical basis of this research is information theory and theory of closed self-referential systems developed in the works of Chilean biologists Maturana and Varela , English mathematician George Spencer Brown , English anthropologist Gregory Bateson and German sociologist Niklas Luhmann . Paraphrasing the basic idea of information theory that information is difference that makes difference, the process of ethnicity formation is the process of distinguishing from environment when the produced distinctions become the source of information for further distinctive operations. Ethnic group reproduces distinction between system and environment as unity that creates asymmetry on both sides of distinction because the level of complexity in the system is always less than one of the environment. The unity of distinction means that this asymmetry (and thus instability) is always present in every single operation of ethnic process because unity of ethnic group is also unity of distinction between ethnic group and its environment. This asymmetry and instability return to ethnic system as pressure to select information for further reproduction and reduction of self-produced complexity. The members of Korean Diaspora exist in the state of high levels of contingency. It is unclear what information they should choose and what information they should ignore to construct ethnic boundary to distinguish them from host society in way to obtain trust and avoid exclusion from host society. The Korean diaspora in China, Russia, the United States, and Japan illustrate how this process can be different and similar at the same time. On one hand, there is a striking difference between the experiences of Korean immigrants in four countries and on the other hand, surprising similarities in form of how the members of Diaspora select information to distinguish them from host society. In each case, the success of integration demanded not only an understanding of the expectations of the host society but also using those expectations to construct ethnic boundary. The only criterion available to select information for construction of ethnic boundary is distinction between Korean Diaspora and host society. Korean Diaspora does not simply distinguishes itself from host society but reproduces this distinction as a source of information for further operations. It echoes with how closed self-referential systems function based on reentry mechanism that reproduces difference between system and environment inside the system . In practice, it means that members of the Korean Diaspora in China, Russia, the United States and Japan reintroduce the self-description of respective host societies as nations back into host society but as authentically Korean. On one hand, it permits to reduce the risk of social exclusion and obtain trust from host society because both sides select and ignore similar information to construct ethnic/national boundary and understand it in similar ways. On the other hand, the fact that both sides observe these operations as distinction between Korean Diaspora and host society also creates the situation of contingency about how to reproduce ethnic/national boundary and thus pressure to continue selective operations to reduce self-produced complexity. It means that further reproduction of ethnic boundaries of Korean Diaspora becomes dependent on contradictions of Chinese, Russian, American and Japanese nationalisms. In all cases the behavior cycles of both government officials, majority public and Korean Diaspora function as paradox that first produces and then exploits the failures to construct national or ethnic community to motivate society to continue nation-building and Korean community building process. It permits to internalize disappointed social expectations that exploits self-criticism as driving force that motivates society to face new challenge and modify itself according to another ideological construct. It means that both majority of host society and members Korean Diaspora reintroduce their inability to construct nation state as socialist, nationalist or liberal utopias that motivate people to pursue “social harmony”, “national unity” or “American dream” that never existed but are supposed to motivate society to continue efforts to pursue the goals that previously ended up in disappointment. In this sense, the Korean diaspora in the each country provides an example of the domination of one pattern of this paradox. It does not mean that society and ethnicity can be reduced only to one model of risk processing, but there are different models that co-exist simultaneously in society with different degree of social trust. These models are the reliance on ethnic education in China to cultivate persons in way that they will later reproduce ethnic boundary through their careers; distribution of political power and it political risks in Russia; the economic regulation of risks in the United States, and the moral regulation of risks in Japan. It means that Russian Korean ethnicity is an example of the political regulation of social risks in Russian society; Korean American ethnicity is an example of the economic regulation of social risk in American society; and Japanese Korean ethnicity is an example of the moral regulation of social risks in Japanese society. Their respective patterns of ethnicity patterns reveal that the more successful the ethnic education is the more it motivates Chinese Koreans to assimilate into Han Chinese society and this fact is referred by Chinese Korean activists as necessity to further improvement of ethnic schools with the same outcome. Russian government promote idea of national unity by forcing Korean Diaspora to construct their ethnic identity as an expression of political loyalty. As a result the politicized ethnic boundary of Korean Diaspora cultivates negative expectations of ethnic separatism that motivates Russian government to impose more government control to ensure the political loyalty of Russian Koreans. The Korean American diaspora represents temporal balance between scarcity and abundance. Ethnic boundaries guarantee that scarcity of money and goods is once again present in American society, even for another ethnic group, which motivates the former and latter to purse their own “American dream” that produces new inequalities. Korean diaspora in Japan promote the moralized self-image as victims of Japanese society through protest movements. This sparks counter-protest movements against Japanese Koreans that depicts Japanese society as victim of Japanese Koreans that the latter later use to construct new image of zainichi as victims of Japanese society.
1. “Social (dis) harmony” between Chinese and Chinese Koreans
The state policies towards Korean Diaspora in China function as a paradox. On one hand, the egalitarian projects run by government cultivate social expectations that it is possible to decrease income inequalities between Han majority and non-Han population of China. On the other, increase of these disparities and disappointed expectations is logical outcome of these projects. However, in spite of these repeated attempts Chinese nationalism strongly depends on these failed policies to motivate Chinese society to continue efforts to build nationalism under guidance of CCP. This process is especially clear on the example of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture that permits to produce and exploit instability. Paradoxically the more Chinese Koreans develop their ethnic culture backed by assistance of Chinese government the more they become assimilated into Han Chinese society. For instance, ethnic education cultivate increasing economic expectations among both Han Chinese and Chinese Koreans and on the other hand limit economic opportunities to implement those expectations that forces minorities to abandon their ethnic identity. Chinese affirmative actions that provide privileged employment positions for ethnic minorities produce disappointment among both Chinese Koreans and Han Chinese that further encourages Chinese government to continue efforts. Chinese officials offer different ideological constructs that permit to integrate disappointed expectations back into political discourse of Chinese nationalism. As soon as it became clear that successful economic development demonstrated by China from late 1980s until early 2010s aggravated existing social inequalities, ethnic regional disparities and produced new forms of inequalities. This gave Chinese government officials and Chinese intellectuals opportunity to use this failure to motivate society to continue efforts towards Chinese national formation. Chinese government in order to compensate disappointed expectations introduced into political discourse the utopian that helps to reintegrate them legitimately as demand for social justice. For example, moderately prosperous society or harmonious society in mid-2000s called for “further improvement of the socialist democratic and legal system ” and “Chinese dream” called for “Great renaissance of the Chinese nation” . Exploitation of inequalities by ethnic minorities is a part of a larger process that forms important basis of Chinese nationalism. The shift from a socialist planned economy (pre-1978) to a market oriented economy (post-1978) had strong influence on ethnic policies in China. At the beginning of the reform period, the Chinese anthropologist Fei Xiaoteng’s theory, known as ethnic pluralism within the Chinese nation, defined much ethnic minority policy . Since then, market forces have influenced literally every ethnic minority that has increased the degree of interethnic contact, especially in the marketplace. As a result, government expected that state schools would play a major role in strengthening a sense of common Chinese nationality, thereby moving China along the path of harmonious multiculturalism . For instance, Chinese Korean ethnic education system in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture is good example of how this mechanism attempts to preserve Korean ethnic culture that only encourage Chinese Koreans to assimilate into Chinese society. Market oriented content of educational process in Chinese Korean ethnic schools in the Autonomous Prefecture is supposed to cultivate persons in way that puts ethnic identity into contradiction with rationality of economic competition. Ethnic education is structured around the idea that social inequalities is crucial source of motivation to increase individual economic efficiency implemented in the ideas of leadership, ethnicity as a form of cultural capital and ethnic pluralism of Chinese nation where all ethnic groups are expected to compete with each other for economic resources and privileges with supposedly equal opportunities . However, the perception of economic opportunities offered by Autonomous Prefecture does not satisfy economic expectations about future income or careers among young Chinese Koreans. As a result, many of them prefer to move to big cities with bigger opportunities that results in decline of ethnic population and stronger assimilation . However, the process of market driven assimilation creates risks for Chinese nation as well. The success of capitalist economy in China motivates ethnic minorities as well as Han Chinese migrate not only within national boundaries from rural and less developed regions to big cities but also move transnationally seeking for better job opportunities in other countries. The contradiction between ethnic solidarity and economic efficiency reappears as contradiction between economic efficiency and national solidarity because Chinese national economy cannot satisfy growing economic expectations both of Han Chinese and of non-Han population. For example, Chinese Koreans are a part of this trend when hundreds of thousands of them prefer to immigrate to South Korea rather than to Chinese cities. This migration changes their identity from being a part of Chinese nation as “Chinese Korean” to transnational ethnic identity of being Korean (Joseonjok). It means that this time their ethnic boundary is not limited by one nation but goes through several nations with large Korean population like China, South and North Korea, Russia, Japan or the United States. This failure returns to Chinese political discourse as demand for social justice. The Chinese Koreans activists claim that the problem is not in market-oriented education but in misbalance between market oriented educational policies and actual economic opportunities provided by government for ethnic autonomies or ethnic businesses. It means that in order to overcome the shortcomings of existing ethnic policies it is crucial to modify ethnic education according to the needs of market economy or with the help of government interventions to eliminate ethnic discrimination providing privileged employment status for ethnic minorities. However, these initiatives ignore the fact that market-oriented education need inequalities as a crucial source of motivation for market economy. As a result, this contradiction between ethnic or national solidarity and economic efficiency reappears as demand for compensations or social justice justified by disappointed expectations. Chinese government takes the lead stating that compensated justice is possible with the help of Communist Party of China interventions. This is supposed to create “new curriculum reforms, schooling could come to more accurately reflect the cultural diversity that characterizes China’s ethnic minorities and increase understanding among ethnic groups nationwide, as well as make state schools much more attractive to ethnic communities, thereby promoting a harmonious multiculturalism for a more unified nation” . Chinese affirmative action (youhui zhengce) compensates inequalities as a paradox that increases inequalities. Government may provide Chinese Koreans and other ethnic minorities with a preferential status regarding admission to state or public universities, civil service, relaxed family planning policy and subsidies . This is important to show that social justice, equality and harmony of interethnic relations depends on efficiency of bureaucratic apparatus and social assistance so that in case of failed attempts it is possible to use this failure as legitimization of another action . Affirmative action stresses distinction between ethnic majority and minority and draws attention to the fact that this distinction needs to be compensated . However, every attempt to compensate this distinction produces social irritation by the members of another ethnic group who thinks that this compensation is at their expense. This permits Chinese bureaucracy to guide further debates around the issue of what compensation is more just and not to the fact that it is impossible to compensate inequalities between Han Chinese and Chinese Koreans without producing conflicts. As a result, further reproduction of Han Chinese ethnic identity becomes dependent on reproduction of this inequality. The disappointed expectations of social harmony promised by the affirmative actions of Chinese government returns as demand of social justice but in reverse order. Common reaction of Han Chinese about affirmative action is that privileged status to ethnic minorities is possible only at the expense of ethnic majority and that this newly created inequality needs compensation. Han majority shares the Communist Party of China ideas that harmonious relations between ethnic majority and minority is possible and this is only the matter of seeking of properly balanced compensatory politics. It means that restoration of social harmony is possible if compensation goes in reverse order, that it is to Han Chinese at the expense of ethnic minorities . Ethnic boundary of Chinese Koreans also becomes dependent on this inequality. The very idea that reproduction of ethnic minorities’ culture within Chinese nation is possible with the help of external assistance puts inequality at the core of interaction between Chinese government and ethnic minorities. Doing this government admits ethnic minorities cannot overcome existing gap between them and Han Chinese without assistance of Communist Party of China . This returns to Chinese political discourse as disappointments by Chinese Koreans about unjust nature of affirmative action. According to them, granted privileges is not real empowerment but fixation of their powerless status within Han Chinese controlled bureaucratic system and an attempt to keep them silent. If harmonious ethnic pluralism is impossible in real world Chinese nationalism can offer its commercialized version . They enable visitors is to be a consumerist, without any bad conscience when consumers buy their redemption from just being consumers who enjoys their flourishing empowered Han Chinese identity while Chinese Koreans and other minorities are in decline. They become active citizens who saves Chinese nation and this is all expressed in one consumerist act. It means that every visit to ethnic villages, ethnic festivals or ethnic restaurants provide them with an opportunity to imagine themselves not as just consumers but as saviors of ethnic minorities’ cultural legacy who do their duty to preserve ethnic pluralism of Chinese nation. It is also possible to imagine social harmony of Chinese nation not from inside but from outside. One of the crucial component of ethnic history of Chinese Koreans in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture as well as national history of China is common struggle of the peoples of China against Japanese empire in the first half of 20th century . This negative image of Japan plays crucial role for both ethnic and national identity formation. It creates strong pressure for national solidarity between Han Chinese and Chinese Koreans. The image of common external enemy is supposed to tell to Chinese Koreans that failures to construct harmonious ethnic relations inside China should not discourage them from further efforts to pursue the social harmony. National unity existed in outside China in Japanese Empire that supposedly represents successful example of national building and still functions as a threat to Chinese national security. Japanese colonial aggression was well-organized political action of Japanese individuals united by the idea of Japanese nation. Han Chinese government and local authorities use this reference to the common past when peoples of China could stand against Japanese Empire as legitimate demand of national solidarity today .
2. “National (dis) unity” of Russians and Russian Koreans
Political self-description is a dominant aspect of the Russian Korean diaspora. In order to reduce the risk of discrimination and exclusion in Russian society and to cultivate trust, members of Soviet/ Russian Korean diaspora used political rationality to describe ethnic boundary between Diaspora and Soviet/ Russian society. Reliance on political rationality emerges from strong contradiction between state and society that cultivated trust (or distrust) towards decisively important role of government in development of Russian society. Both members of Russian Korean Diaspora and Russian society describe Russian Korean Diaspora as a source of political power. This made reproduction of Soviet/Russian Korean ethnic boundary dependent on political contradictions of Russian society. Political authorities (federal and regional) produced and exploited their inability to construct nation state reintroducing them back into Russian political discourse as demand of proletarian solidarity or “national unity” that never existed but are supposed to motivate society to continue efforts to pursue the goals that previously ended up in disappointment. Russia give example of the attempt to construct nation-state based on socialist ideologies. These ideologies permit government to preserve legitimacy in spite of its inability to resolve the problem of social inequality. Socialist utopia exploits economic inequality to justify moral demand of social justice both for excluded social/ethnic groups and for those who benefit from social inequality, namely Communist Party of the Soviet Union whose political legitimacy rested on the belief that bureaucratic institutions intervention can overcome social inequality. Socialist revolution in Russia supposed that taking power from upper class or re-distribution of wealth inside national community would solve class contradictions. It came about in part because of assumption that class differences prevented equal distribution of wealth in society. Soviet Korean diaspora became a part of this process. The “cultural stuff” was important to organize class struggle between labor and capital, modernity and tradition inside the Soviet Korean diaspora as a part of a wider class struggle in Soviet state. In accordance with the famous thesis of Joseph Stalin about “national form and socialist content,” Korean culture and language became tools for political self-description. The crucial aspect of the Soviet Korean diaspora was the politicization of the economy. It means that the main source of motivation of economic activities were class contradictions that demanded mobilization of economic resources in the form of internal class struggle where one group of Soviet Koreans people represented labor and another capital. This permitted Soviet and Soviet Korean authorities evaluate the efficiency or inefficiency of ethnic labor in close relationship with efficiency or inefficiency of political class struggle inside Soviet Korean community. Paradoxically both efficient and inefficient socialism building equally led to political conflict between Soviet state and Soviet Korean Diaspora. Both successes and failures contributed to further politicization of Soviet Korean ethnic culture that justified further political interventions as a proof of its success or as necessity to compensate the failures of socialist modernization. This raised the question of who controls this politicized ethno-social space. The end result was increasing conflicts between two parallel sources of political power, namely the diaspora and the state. On one hand greater socialist modernization of the ethnic culture demanded higher concentrations of power and economic resources inside the Soviet Korean Diaspora, and yet on the other hand, socialist modernization of Soviet society in general demanded similar political concentrations of resources in one center, further expanding state power. Eventually the forced deportation of Soviet Koreans to Central Asia in 1937 was one of the numerous attempts that Soviet state applied in the Far East trying compensate its inability to construct socialist nation by mass population relocations from/to Soviet Far East with political violence justified by necessity to construct socialist nation through struggle with internal or external enemies . However, taken power and redistributed resources does not lead to formation of national unity. By the late 1960s it became clear that attempts to eliminate class distinctions did not only eliminate them but produced new equalities that cannot be reduced to traditional class differences. As a result, moral imperative of solidarity loses its legitimacy and so does the idea of that national unity is possible under socialist slogans. During the late 1950s and 1980s, there was a growing disappointment and loss of legitimacy of socialist paradigm both in communist and capitalist nations around the globe. For example, already beginning from mid 1950s during de-Stalinization campaign Soviet Korean intellectuals expressed their dissatisfaction with current situation of Korean ethnic socialist development culture claiming that it needed further modifications to overcome damages produced by Stalinist legacy. Eventually during Perestroika, 1985 – 1991 Soviet Korean activists abandoned their attempts to reach consensus and played important role in d- legitimization of Soviet state making its own contribution to its collapse. The post-Soviet period opened up new forms of politicization of ethnic culture in Russia. The collapse of socialist paradigm in Russia did not de-politicized ethnic boundary between the host society and Russian Koreans but created new forms of politicization. Russian government changed the very basis of its legitimacy to the opposite. Instead of promise to resolve the problem of social inequality and exploitation within socialist paradigm it proclaimed the idea that social inequality is crucial source of motivation to exploit the economic potential of Russian society in a way that the outcome of economic competition would fit the expectations of Russian bureaucratic hierarchy. In order to do this, the post-Soviet political order in Russia relied on the consensus between federal government and ethnic minorities in the form of membership in ruling political parties, top bureaucracy and permission to participate in large business projects financed by federal budget. Their purpose is to prevent the real development that would mean uncontrolled upward social mobility and more democratization that in turn would result in stronger social demands to redistribute wealth and power. That is why all government run project to develop ethnic culture are made in a way that their implementation will have only limited impact on society. As a part of this trend, Russian federal and regional government takes advantage of Russian Koreans presence on the Russian Far East as to attract investments from South Korea. Since late 1980s when Soviet politburo reconsidered relations with South Korea and established direct trade relations between two countries and after establishment of diplomatic relations between Russian Federation and Republic of Korea in 1991 Russian government lived in an anticipation of large Korean investments. Federal and regional authorities referred to the presence of Koreans in Sakhalin and re-migration of Russian Koreans from Central Asia to Primorsky region as justification of Korean economic participation in development of the regions. On the other hand, they tried to avoid too much stress of ethnic factor and preferred to transfer cooperation on inter-government level when South Korean government can interact with Russian Koreans not directly but through Russian bureaucracy and Russian Korean politicians integrated into Russian political mainstream. However, the ambiguity that still exists only encourages South Korean side to rely and further develop ethnic factor. South Korean politicians and intellectuals beginning at least from late 1990s promote the idea that it is important to establish Korean autonomy in Primorsky region that will mutually benefit for both Russia and South Korea. The presence of ethnic factor permits South Korean side to depict their economic activities on the Russian Far East not just as simple profit making but as a part of higher goal of reunification of Korean nation. From economic perspective establishment of Korean ethnic autonomy will permit to attract big Korean investments to the Primorsky region that will strongly contribute to economic development and implement Russian-Korean projects like connection of Trans Korean and Trans-Siberian railroads. Nationalistic argument presupposes that this autonomy will be an important step towards unification of Korean peninsula. Korean ethnic autonomy is supposed to represent the first case of unified Korean nation where South Korean capital is working together with North Korean labor on neutral territory. The idea of Korean autonomy also has proponents among Russian Koreans. This project emerges periodically throughout the history of Koreans on Russian Far East. Each period stressed different aspects to legitimize necessity to establish Korean ethnic autonomy. During soviet period in early 1930s, the first demand of autonomy was logical outcome of the idea of self-organization of labor where Soviet Korean autonomy would have been the form of politically self-organized class struggle of Korean labor. In the post-war period Soviet Korean intellectuals in the Central Asia organized so called “petition campaign” in late 1950s where they claimed that establishment of ethnic autonomy as an attempt to correct Stalinist legacy during de-Stalinization campaign. Soviet Korean autonomy was supposed to overcome deviation of ethnic culture from socialist content produced by forced deportation in 1937 and permit to reach the balanced interrelation between socialist politics and ethnic culture . The third time when this idea appeared in post-soviet period in early 1990s in the context of de-Sovietization. The demand for autonomy dovetailed with the Russian government’s emphasis on the spirit of “Rehabilitation of Russian Koreans” in September 1993. As one Russian Korean intellectuals claimed “rehabilitation of the Korean people of the Soviet Union meant restoration of all abandoned civil and political rights, including the right to restore the Korean National District and the National Agricultural Soviets.” The regional government used this demand for ethnic autonomy as an opportunity to represent itself as the one who prevents ethnic separatism and provides national unity. Local governmental authorities, the police, and even Russian Korean leaders in general displayed negative reactions towards the Russian Koreans. They interpreted ethnicity as one of the primary threats to Russian state power. The local police viewed ethnicity as a source of alternative political power after that was especially true during the conflict in the Chechen Republic and in other locations where separatist movements thrived in Russia during the 1990s. Some of them expressed their opposition writing that the probable establishment of national autonomy of Koreans in the Primorsky region is in fact a conspiracy hatched by both North and South Korea to expand their sphere of influence. Russian authorities believed the Primorsky region would become an arena of struggle for the minds and hearts of the Russian Koreans against the social-economic and spiritual influence exerted by the two Korean nations. Hence, they proposed to make migration legislation much stricter, not more lenient.
3. Korean Americans and “(dis) balanced” ethnic diversity of American nation
Korean American Diaspora is dependent on the contradictions of American nationalism. From the very beginning, the trust towards Korean immigrants was reflection of how well they were doing economically. However, the inevitable outcome of their economic activities (successful or not) was increase of racial/class tensions and conflicts that they could not ignore. Every economic activity represents temporal balance between scarcity and abundance and ethnic boundaries of Korean American Diaspora guarantee that scarcity of money and goods is once again present in American society, even for another ethnic group that motivates latter to pursue their own American dream . It means that Korean American political activists had to refer to inability to remove racial discrimination, class disparities or government inefficiency in a way that preserves them as an ideological constructs that motivates both members of Korean American diaspora and of American society to furtherly exploit their economic potential and integrate social disappointments. In this sense, the pursuit of “American dream” depends more on failure rather than on success. The Korean American diaspora developed the means of concentrating economic resources. Their racial ideologies played crucial role in pursuit of economic security and helped them to exploit the economic potential of the Korean diaspora in competition or cooperation with other ethnic and racial groups in the United States. The importance of biological forms of economic mobilization represented by race grew from their particular image of the human body in a physiological sense as the material supply of needs for the market. Racial boundaries they set motivated members of the Korean American diaspora to adhere to constant sums of money (price of ethnic labor) which was necessary for cooperation, exchange, and competition with non-Koreans on a regular basis. Those racial boundaries they established also preserved their economic potential and maintained economic discipline among the members of the Korean American diaspora by including individuals who fit the biological criterion of membership while excluding everybody else . The Korean American diaspora also developed the means to diversify their economic resources. Economic security for members of the Korean American diaspora depended increasingly upon the resources of the larger society and less upon the ethnic ties and the ethnic niche. Therefore, it became more difficult for them to describe the ethnic boundary in terms of economic relations. The logic of pursuit of the American Dream demanded construction of different boundaries like that of creditor/lender, owner/worker or producer/consumer and different sources for motivation from employment/unemployment instead of recitations of the alleged Korean ethic of hard work or “blood ties.” Hence, Korean American financial institutions increasingly shifted away from their co-ethnic clientele to the wider population of Los Angeles in provision of financial services while Korean American entrepreneurs increasingly relied on cheaper non-Korean labor and less on family labor to meet their labor requirements. The trust towards the Korean American diaspora in American society demands the presence of institutions that would compensate for the negative consequences of economic operations on a regular basis. Los Angeles Riots in 1992 demonstrated that it is impossible to ignore the persistent problems of American society such as racism, class disparities or inefficient government. It also showed that Korean American diaspora needed to new forms of wider and more active political participation instead of informal connections between ethnic elite of the small business associations and American government. Further presence of Korean Americans in American society demanded construction of their version of a mechanism that would permit to preserve these contradictions and at the same time reintroduce produced social disappointments as important source of motivation for further pursue of “American dream”. The constructed mechanism include two forms of reintegration of class and racial contradiction through Korean American protest movement and participation of Korean American politicians in American political mainstream. Post LA-Riots Korean American protest movement demonstrated its strong reliance on racial and class differences. The new (1.5 and second) generation Korean American activists promoted the idea that the main reason of Riots was not race but class disparities and government inefficiency that they offered to resolve by constructing multiethnic/racial coalitions. However, the main source of motivation to mobilize people for protest was again racial distinction from white Americans. This permitted to reintroduce inability to resolve the problem of racial discrimination back into American political discourse as demand of social justice for discriminated groups but justified by racial boundaries between American white and non-white population. For instance, As Angela Oh, a spokesperson for the Korean American community after the LA-Riots spoke on the effect of the 1992 Los Angeles riots on the Korean-American community in a speech during the national convention of the Asian American Journalists Association on August 27, 1992: “It was the worst freaking riot or upraising or rebellion that this country has ever seen. And you know why? Because they do not know, what it should be. Why? Because they are white male, and they are surrounded predominantly by white male advisors. They do not have a clue!” One of the most important examples of protest activities in California is The Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), previously known under its past name Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates. This is a multi-ethnic immigrant worker civil right organization based in the Los Angeles, Koreatown area best known for its successful anti-Assi protest . KIWA is also a member organization of MIWON (Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Alliance), an alliance of four (formerly five) immigrant workers' centers in the Los Angeles area, and ENLACE, a United States/Mexico network of workers’ centers. It was established aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles Riot by human right activist Danny Park and has since been involved in the campaigns to improve working conditions and immigrant worker empowerment mostly in Korean restaurants. According to official site of KIWA, its purpose is “to empower Koreatown’s low-wage immigrant workers and to develop a progressive constituency and leadership in the Koreatown community that can struggle in solidarity with other underrepresented communities in and beyond Koreatown.” The mainstream Korean American political activists had to reconsider their ideological images. The successful political career demanded to focus on their competence to contribute to the balanced relations between different ethnic/racial groups in ethnically mixed communities of California that include both white and non-white population. In this sense, the careers of Jay Kim, the former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California (Republican); Michelle Park Steel, former member of California State Board of Equalization (Republican); Steven Choi, Mayor of Irvine (Republican); Sukhee Kang, ex-Mayor of Irvine (Democrat) or Mary Chung Hayashi, Member of 18th Assembly District in the California State Legislature (Democrat) give example of successful adaptation of 1992 Los Angeles Riots legacy to construct ideologies that could appeal to wider American public. For instance, ex-Mayor of Irvine Sukhee Kang, in the speech that he delivered to the graduating class of 2011 of University of California, Irvine summarized this political strategy: “Out of the flames of destruction came my personal inspiration to build – to build coalitions; to build friendships; to bridge gaps and create trust; to focus on the strength that diversity holds if we work together, not apart.” However, the careers of Korean American politicians refer to the paradox when their political success permitted to reintroduce racial discrimination and class differences in American society once again but in the new form. The criterion of political successes to represent interracially solidary and economically efficient communities is distinction from the cases where racial discrimination and poverty still exists. This is supposed to motivate the former to preserve their achievements and the latter to work harder to pursue their own American dream. The City of Irvine is again a good example of how successful middle class supposedly ethnically diverse community of 212,375 people where Whites (nearly 50%) and Asian American (nearly 40%) constitute absolute majority of population represent contrast with ethnically/racially more homogenous and much less economically successful ghettos of Southern California. Besides, the stress on multiculturalism by mainstream Korean American politicians sometimes has opposite effect that racialize American politics. The attempt, as Sukhee Kang put it, “to work on both sides of the aisle” produce contradiction between self-positioning of Korean American politicians as a part of ethnic minority group and at the same time as adherents of ethnic diversity in the age of “post-racial America”. This brings the racial discrimination back to American political discourse on one hand as demand of balanced ethnic diversity and on the other permit to interpret disappointed expectation as a proof of racism. That is why when a successful Korean American politician try to distance him/herself from his/her ethnicity it gives their political opponents an opportunity to blame them in exploitation of ethnic/racial factor to obtain additional voices in elections and at the same time gives a minority politician describe this criticism as a proof racial discrimination.
4. “Moral (dis)content” between Japanese and Japanese Koreans
Morality plays crucial role in regulation of ethnic discrimination risks of the Japanese Korean diaspora in Japanese society. Reliance on moral communication does not mean that members of the Japanese Korean diaspora and Japanese society live in harmony. Morality does not possess socially integrating properties because of its polemic side it is laden with conflict. The cases of social and economic exclusion motivates Japanese Koreans to mobilize its members for protest movements legitimized by the moralized image of Koreans in Japan as victims of discrimination. This does not always produce compassion among Japanese public but very often produces social irritations and eventually counter-protest movements that are also legitimized by moralized image of Japanese society as victim of Japanese Korean demands of compensations. Eventually this gives opportunity to Japanese Koreans to refer to unsuccessful attempts to obtain compensations and the cases of counter protest movement as a new proof of ongoing discrimination against their community. It means that they can use these cases to construct new moralized image of Japanese Koreans as victim of Japanese discrimination to motivate people for further protest movement, and start this cycle of moral discontent once again.
4 - 1. The Japanese Korean Protest Movement
The protest movements became a popular form of representation of this moralization of the Japanese Korean diaspora. Most of their major achievements towards integration into Japanese society came as a result of their mobilization of people for mass protest demonstrations against Japanese Korean social exclusion. After World War II, Japanese Koreans were able to reverse the focus of moral regulation. Prior to World War II, they were the objects of moral regulation as leaders of the Japanese Empire like Hirofumi Ito justified Japan’s control over Korea by pointing to the ‘weakness’ or the high risk of moral deviations by Korean people. After the war, however, the Japanese Korean diaspora was able to paint Japanese, not Korean society, as the real zone of high risk for pathological behavior. Japanese post-World War II economic growth only strengthened the trend towards adopting issues of economic exclusion. Their demand for monetary compensations at least from the early 1970s became a dominant theme of the Japanese Korean protest movement and in turn, was absorbed into the larger process of the formation of the Japanese welfare state. This process ranged from working class and student movements to political confrontations between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the leftist movement. The main idea of the welfare state is that all economic differences must be compensated. In the case of Japanese Koreans it was the ethnic differences that they moralized in order to justify their compensation claims. The protesters trumpeted the issues of violent exclusion or violent exploitation of Korean people by Japanese government and Japanese companies. The demand for monetary compensation was more than a question of money but involved the issue of national membership. In the post war period of the 1950s and 1960s, the Japanese government launched a program of war compensation. The main recipients of compensation were different social groups within Japanese society who suffered much from the war. Among those slated to receive such compensations were farmers who lost their land, the hibakusha or the atomic bombing victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the repatriates who surrendered their property on the Asian continent, the burakumin or the untouchable class, and the Japanese Emperor who also supposedly was a victim of the militarists. Japanese Koreans, too, were among those who were supposed to receive such compensation since they too suffered from the war. Wartime compensations held an additional interest for the Japanese Koreans. They had a very strong symbolic meaning because they were a material reflection of the new Japanese national ideology—Japanese as victims, not the initiators of the war. According to this new ideology, Japanese people too were victims of the Japanese militarists who used them for their own ends. Compensations symbolically included social groups whom the government considered to be the new Japanese people. However, Japanese Koreans were not included because they did not fit this ideology since they were allegedly people of a different culture but whose presence within Japanese society in general served as an important reminder of Japan’s imperialist past. As a result, of their exclusion from compensation, the Japanese Korean diaspora portrayed itself as a victim of post-war Japanese nationalism. Representation of the Japanese Korean ethnic boundary in Japanese society took on forms that were diametrically opposite to the Japanese government’s actions. Their compensation claims filed by Korean residents depended on how successfully they represented themselves as victims of Japanese society. Both pro-North Korean organizations such as Chongryon and pro-South Korean groups like the Mindan primarily appealed for compensation using this moral code. During their protests, their participants represented Japanese society as a pathological, to both maintain ethnic solidarity among themselves and to raise Japanese awareness and sensitivity towards the issue of ethnic discrimination, a violation of societal norms. The Japanese Korean diaspora brought this victimization image out to the street through their protest movements. From the 1950s until the 2010s, each protest represented a different image of victim depending on the particular compensation claim they were pushing. This differentiation in their imaging of Japanese Koreans was done to tailor their message, not to the general Japanese society but to different social groups and classes in it until they succeeded in making their issue become a part of a larger issue. With the protests to protect ethnic education, their main symbol became the Japanese Korean families and especially the children. With the issue of economic exclusion, they offered different images of the victim ranging from young Japanese Korean graduates who cannot find employment in Japanese companies because of their Korean descent to Japanese Korean seniors who cannot obtain pensions due them from the Japanese government. With the comfort women issue, they trumpeted gender differences as the means for representing compensations claims for sexual exploitation of Korean women during the war.
4-2. The Counter Protest against the Japanese Korean Diaspora
Protest movements against Japanese Koreans, too formed an integral part of the moral description of the Japanese Korean diaspora. The main participants in these protests are marginal right-wing Japanese organizations that try to debunk the claims of the Japanese Korean diaspora for compensation and special rights. They represent a reaction to the moralized description of Japanese society offered by the Japanese Korean diaspora. Their reversal of Japanese Korean’s moral communication is built on the assumption of an imbalance in the power relations between the two groups. Unlike the wider Japanese public which accepts the Japanese Korean ethnicity’s moralization of Japanese society as a warning against treading again on to the path that led to World War II and coerced creation of minority groups such as Japanese Koreans, the right-wing nationalist organizations refused to accept this view. On the contrary, they represent the Japanese Korean diaspora as not innocent victims but rather corrupted people whose presence in Japanese society is only to be tolerated rather than compensated, and thereby reversing the vector of moral accusation. Politicization of ethnic boundary is another important purpose of the counter protest. Unlike attempts of Japanese Koreans to use moral arguments to de-politicize their protest movement and reduce it solely to the issues of welfare, Japanese radical right-wing organizations desperately attempt to use morality to politicize the ethnic boundary between Japanese Korean diaspora and Japanese society. For them, the source of Japanese national solidarity is the idea that the majority of Japanese society are victims of ethnic minorities who try to make Japan their colony from the inside in order to exploit Japanese people. They depict the Japanese Korean diaspora as one of the most obvious examples of this reverse “internal colonialism” of Japanese society that should be resisted by all people in Japan. The most active protesters against the Japanese Koreans’ claims are those in the so-called Citizens’ Group against Special Rights for Japanese Koreans (zainichi tokken wo yurusa nai shimin no kai) or Zaitokukai. The leader is Makoto Sakurai, also known in the blog sphere as Doronpa born on February 15, 1972. He is a conservative public commentator and an historical revisionist/activist from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. His geographic sphere of concern is limited to Fukuoka Prefecture yet he appears in the most “sacred” places for Japanese Koreans and is seen frequently in the Kansai area. His favorite spots are the Korean schools, the Utoro area, and he organizes simultaneous counter demonstrations against the protesters marching for Japanese Korean issues. He leads demonstrations against Japanese officials who cooperate with Japanese Koreans, such as those at the Uji City Hall in the Kyoto metropolitan area. He also cooperates with other right-wing and mainstream organizations like the National Socialist Union (kokka shakaishugi mono dōmei), The Party of New Political Modernization (ishin seitō shinpū), Citizens’ Group for Sovereignty Restoration (shuken kaifuku wo mezasu kai), and religious organizations like the Sōkka-gakkai and its political party Kōmeitō. Those in such right-wing organizations describe their own actions as efforts to assist both Japanese society and Japanese Koreans. Their aim, however, is to neutralize Japanese Koreans’ claims for compensation which they view as excessive. In one of Makoto Sakurai’s interview, he specifically relates how what he does is important not only for Japanese society but also for Japanese Koreans. Sakurai claimed he was not against Japanese Koreans per se but that that he was simply calling attention to the root of the problem of Japanese Koreans—within that minority group itself . In order to depict the menace of Japanese Koreans Zaitokukai activists depict their activities as attempts of taking over national sovereignty of Japan. For example, the conflicts between local authorities and ethnic schools about the land property issues they describe as attempts of Japanese Koreans to occupy Japanese land . Japanese officials are another target of his protests because according to right-wingers Japanese Koreans have already penetrated Japanese politics and manipulated officials for their own benefits, contrary to Japanese law that also represent danger to Japanese sovereignty.