Formation of Postcolonial Korea through Family, Medicine, and the War Talk Series
“Imperial Shift: Rice and Revolution in Trans-war Korea, 1939-1949” Yumi Moon, Stanford University Thursday, March 12
4:00PM – 5:30 PM
918 International Affairs Building
Co-sponsored by Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, Academy of Korean Studies; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
In December 1945, the US Occupation Forces in Korea produced a report entitled “Rice Situation in Korea.” This report calculated the demand for and supply of rice and other grains in South Korea, and projected that there would be a surplus of more than 220 million gallons of rice available for export. The General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan was asked to approve the importation of Korean rice to relieve the food shortages suffered by Japanese coal miners in spring 1946. Unfortunately, however, Korea’s actual food situation after World War II was far from the optimistic assessment presented in the US military’s late 1945 report. The Occupation’s mishandling of the rice supply in 1945 and 1946 caused social chaos and triggered a series of violent uprisings in Korea. This talk revisits Korea’s history under the US Occupation from a trans-war perspective and investigates the material conditions that ordinary Koreans experienced during the wartime period and after Liberation. By focusing on the problem of rice, it seeks to explain how Japan’s wartime empire and the US Occupation administered the challenging task of food supply in Korea, and how this “imperial shift” influenced the course of “revolutionary” movements in the making of postwar South Korea.
Yumi Moon is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Stanford University. She is the author of Populist Collaborators: The Ilchinhoe and the Japanese Colonization of Korea, 1896-1910 (Cornell University Press, 2013; Japanese translation published by Akashi Shoten, 2018). She is currently writing a book on Korea’s transition from the wartime colonial period to the US Occupation, tentatively entitled Toward a Free State: Imperial Shift and the Making of Postwar South Korea, 1937-1950.
The talk series will explore how material, cultural, ideological, and political changes that took place during Korea’s transitions from Japanese empire to U.S. military occupation to postwar Korea influenced and were influenced by people’s lives; how these changes constructed multiple identities from gender, family, and class; and how indigenous and modern elements were selected and used in constructing these new individual and collective identities in Korea during the first half of the 20th century. In doing so, the talk series will revisit the tensions, compromises, and conflicts of diverse identities in both the colonial and postcolonial contexts through the three scholars’ respective analyses of family civil law cases, medical practices, and Korea’s transwar society.