Japan and Korea

Japanese Rule (1910-1945): All info from : http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/main_pop/kpct/kp_koreaimperialism.htm


Japanese Colonial Rule (1910-1945)

  • Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945) was a deeply ambivalent experience for Koreans. On the one hand, Japanese colonialism was often quite harsh. For the first ten years Japan ruled directly through the military, and any Korean dissent was ruthlessly crushed. After a nationwide protest against Japanese colonialism that began on March 1, 1919, Japanese rule relaxed somewhat, allowing a limited degree of freedom of expression for Koreans.
  • Despite the often oppressive and heavy-handed rule of the Japanese authorities, many recognizably modern aspects of Korean society emerged or grew considerably during the 35-year period of colonial rule. These included rapid urban growth, the expansion of commerce, and forms of mass culture such as radio and cinema, which became widespread for the first time. Industrial development also took place, partly encouraged by the Japanese colonial state, although primarily for the purposes of enriching Japan and fighting the wars in China and the Pacific rather than to benefit the Koreans themselves. Such uneven and distorted development left a mixed legacy for the peninsula after the colonial period ended.
  • By the time of the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Korea was the second-most industrialized nation in Asia after Japan itself.
  • But the wartime mobilization of 1937-45 had reintroduced harsh measures to Japanese colonial rule, as Koreans were forced to work in Japanese factories and were sent as soldiers to the front. Tens of thousands of young Korean women were drafted as “Comfort Women” – in effect, sexual slaves – for Japanese soldiers.
  • In 1939, Koreans were even pressured by the colonial authorities to change their names to Japanese names, and more than 80 percent of the Koreans complied with the name-change ordinance.

Primary Sources w/DBQs“The Old People and the New Government,” by Komatsu Midori [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
In order to understand Japanese colonial rule in Korea, and the reactions of Koreans, it is useful to see the ways in which Japanese officials sought to justify the takeover to Koreans, to themselves, and to the rest of the world. The article excerpted here is a transcript of a talk given by an official of the Japanese foreign ministry, Komatsu Midori, to resident foreign members (mostly British and American) of Seoul’s Royal Asiatic Society shortly after annexation. Both history and civilization are called into service.

Primary Sources w/DBQsDeclaration of Independence (March 1, 1919) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Lesson PlanMarch First Independence Movement [PDF] [Korea Society]
For grades 10-12. “The purpose of this lesson is to examine the March 1, 1919 independence movement in Korea. Students will look at this event from a variety of perspectives and create a political poster that captures the emotions of the Koreans, who took a stand against their oppressors in hopes of gaining their independence. Students will also examine the aftermath of the March 1 Movement, within Korea and abroad.”

Lesson PlanKorea under Japanese Occupation [PDF] [Korea Society]
For grades 9-12. Learning objectives: 1) Understand the influence of geography on Korean history and culture; 2) Develop an appreciation of literature as a medium of learning history; 3) Interpret attitudes and behaviors of cultures and peoples in conflict; 4) Compare historical experiences of three small nations under occupation (Korea 1910-45, eighteenth-century
Poland, Biblical Israel).

Primary Sources w/DBQsJapanese Colonialism in Korea: 1910-1945 (A Document-based Essay Exercise) [PDF] [Korea Society]
For grades 10-12. With a background reading and thirteen short primary-source documents.

Historiography – Chinese Civil War

flickr photo shared by Clemson under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

 Historians Dinner Party

Defining the war: a question of dates!


  • the ‘long civil war’: 1912 – 1949, starting with the collapse of imperial power until Mao’s ultimate victory in 1949 allowed a single ruler of the country to emerge – a sustained 37 year period of conflict.
  • ‘the first Chinese civil war’: 1927 – 1937, starting with the ‘white terror’ the decade when Chiang Kai Shek and the KMT tried unsuccessfully to root out the Communists, which was then interrupted by the Japanese invasion and the Second World War, before the ‘second Chinese civil war’ broke out: 1946 – 1949.
  • Historian Jonathan Spence argues that the Chinese Civil War should refer more narrowly to this latter conflict between 1946 and 1949, as this produced a decisive result.

Be aware of this controversy over when the war actually starts, and what actually constitutes the war, if you choose to answer a question on this topic. It is entirely acceptable to take the view taken by Spence and state that the civil war proper should be seen as the more concentrated period of fighting after the Second World War – but you do, of course, need to be aware of the long-term tensions and divisions leading up to this (as covered in the longer interpretations of the civil war mentioned above).

“Civil war”? A question of definition

Armed disputes between rival factions with radically different ideas about the future shape/direction of a country. Differences do not, however, cause civil war in themselves; also necessary is the lack of a political system with legitimacy or monopoly of force to manage the competing claims in a society. A deeply divided society can erupt into civil war when there is no mechanism to manage those divisions.


Collapse of imperial power:
Collapse of imperial power in 19th century played a fundamental role in creating the conditions for the later civil war.

Ideological divide

Failure of KMT to secure single party state:


Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945


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