Politics of identification of Zainichi Koreans under the divided system
This paper focuses on Chōsen-seki Zainichi Koreans’ legal status and their identification process, also critically examines South Korea’s division system which causes conflicts with them. Chōsen-seki is an official designation given to those Koreans who have remained in Japan after liberation and have not acquired South Korean nationality (Kankoku-seki) after Japan recognized South Korea as the “sole legitimate government” on the Korean Peninsula. They are referred to as Chōsen-seki on their foreign registration cards. Chōsen-seki Zainichi Koreans do not necessarily have North Korean nationality and citizenship, but because they have chosen not to acquire South Korean nationality the ROK government considers them pro-North Korea group and routinely demands that they change their registration. This paper will first examine the historical process of division that surrounds the nationality of Zainichi Koreans, and then discuss the problem of exclusive administrative procedure of issuing passport in the postcolonial divided nation. The third section and below will show the point of conflict between the identification of Zainichi Koreans and the divided system, based on some samples of oral interviews.
KEYWORDS: Zainichi Korean, divided system, identification, Chōsen-seki, diaspora, return migration
Notes on contributor
Cho Kyung Hee is assistant professor at Institute for East Asian Studies in Sungkonghoe University. She has published mainly in the fields of colonialism, migration and minority studies, and is the co-author of Frontier of Sovereignty: Korean Border-Crossings and Deportation Camps in Post-Empire Japan (Hanul, 2017) and Identifying Myself: Nationality, Passport and Registration in East Asia (Hanul, 2017). Her recent research fields are links between racism and misogyny in Post-Cold War Japan.