We investigate the ways literature addresses the politics of war mobilization in East Asia from the late 1930s through the 1970s, focusing on fiction and literary criticism produced out of the encounter between Japan and Korea under the conditions of colonial modernity, occupation, and the Cold War.
In response to the Modern Japanese Literature Section's call for papers that take up questions of literature and politics, this panel investigates the ways literature has addressed formations and transformations of war mobilization culture in East Asia from the late 1930s through the 1970s, focusing in particular on works of fiction and literary criticism produced out of the colonial encounter between Japan and Korea. Rather than presume a 1945 "rupture," the panel seeks to uncover how ideas of rupture and continuity are themselves narrativized by writers whose careers had been formed in the interstices of colonial modernity and war, whether under the conditions of coercive assimilation in the Japanese colony, under those of the US occupation in Japan, or in the wake of Cold War politics. Taken together, the three papers also show how war mobilization culture of the 1930s-1940s was reconstituted in post-1945 Korea and Japan, and to what effects. In doing so, the panel highlight the interrelated issues of violence and power, colonial/postcolonial continuities, and border-crossings in transwar East Asia, as well as the tactics employed by writers when politicizing their art. In the first paper Shim discusses non-fictional and fictional works from the late 1930s onwards that addressed the workings of the Pure White Sect (J: Hakuhakukyō, K: Paekpaekkyo) religious cult, situating her analyses in relation to colonial modernity and war mobilization in Korea. Perry then shows how the Korean War was represented in popular Japanese literature written by the ethnic Korean writer Chang Hyŏkchu, in which imperial narratives of class, gender and ethnicity are reconstituted in the so-called "postwar" literary imagination. Finally, Yi's paper explores the discursive formation and theoretical limits of "repatriation literature" (hikiage bungaku) in connection with issues of colonial memory and Cold War culture, using the writings of Morisaki Kazue and Ri Kaisei as examples.