Towards a New Perspective on Zainichi Korean Identity: A Discursive Analysis on the Historicity of Daburu (Doubles)

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Lee, Hongjang

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Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.2 No.1, pp. 57-80
Zainichi Koreansdaburu (doubles)diasporaidentityhistoricity
This study explores the identities of the daburu (doubles)—the individuals born of Zainichi Korean and Japanese parents—through their discursive practices in Japanese society. The daburu often experience identity crises as they share traits of the two ethnic groups differentiated by their experiences and identities as the aggressors (Japanese) and victims (Korean) during the colonial era. However, as my study finds, the daburu cannot easily express this ambiguity in the aggressor-victim dichotomy as historical problems and discrimination against the Zainichi Koreans persist in Japanese society. In this context, the daburus ambiguity itself can be easily misunderstood as a counter-discourse that blurs or erases the identity and historicity of the Zainichi Koreans. The main purpose of this article is to critically reexamine this misperception by process-tracing the actual accounts and discursive practices of the daburu. The daburus accounts reveal their efforts to overcome the rigid aggressor-victim dichotomy that is often imposed on the process of defining their identity. My study shows a clear style in their writing practice that intends to avoid any stereotypes while narrating their story. Overall, I find that such discursive practices by the daburu can provide a new perspective for the studies on the identities of Zainichi Koreans that have revolved primarily around the debate between ethnic nationalism and social constructivism while addressing the identity problems of Zainichi Koreans. The discursive practices of the daburu have significant implications on the possibility of creating a new public sphere where individual Zainichi Koreans and daburu can freely express their experiences and history, thereby connecting them to new discourses that can expand the horizons of existing perspectives on Zainichi Koreans.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소)Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies (SJJS)Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.2 no.1(2016)
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