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Into the light : An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan : [book review] Treat, John Whittier May 22, 2012

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Pacific Affairs: Volume 85, No. 1 - March 2012 214 the presence of positions of maneuvering. Further, recent scholarship has contributed much more nuanced and complex studies on the so- called “dark era” than Atkins acknowledges. While critiquing the lack of nuance in a postcolonial nationalist predilection for “sticking it to the Big Man” (Japanese imperialists, in this case) and rightly calling for a consideration of the complex perspectives of the colonizers, Atkins at times is in danger of reducing the complexities of perspectives from the colony and the postcolony to that of undifferentiated “nationalism” or postcolonial ressentiment. Nonetheless, Primitive Selves makes an important contribution to global empire studies, the disciplines of history, ethnography and anthropology, as well as to transnational Japanese and Korean studies and should be widely consulted by scholars and students of these areas and beyond. Duke University, Durham, USA NAYOUNG AIMEE KWON INTO THE LIGHT: An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan. Edited by Melissa L. Wender. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2010. ix, 226 pp. US$22.00, paper.  ISBN 978-0-8248-3490-6. Melissa Wender’s welcome volume of Japanese-language fiction and poetry written by Koreans and Japanese of Korean descent between 1939 and 1996 addresses an ongoing problem: Anglophone scholarship on Japanese literature frequently gets ahead of itself, in the sense that the primary texts it wants to dissect are not available in English translation, and so we have proliferating essays on works that monolingual readers cannot access. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that translations are hard to publish nowadays and ambitious assistant professors don’t want to do them. It is also true that contemporary academic criticism, seldom concerned with aesthetic merit, frequently writes about fiction that will never be translated because, frankly, it is not very good. This is the situation of Japanese zainichi, or “Resident Korean” literature, a genre that came into being in modern times because of the forced or voluntary migration of Koreans to Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. With the Empire’s defeat in 1945, most of the Koreans in Japan were rendered stateless, and thus joined the ranks of what, in hindsight, was the most intractable problem of the twentieth century, the massive rise in refugees worldwide. These “Koreans” and their progeny write: in fact, Japan’s Resident Koreans, who number approximately a million in number (depending upon how one counts), are over-represented in the intelligentsia and so are prominent in literary circles. That, combined with the eagerness of foreign academics to apply Book Reviews 215 to Japan the same strategy of extending the historical life of serious literary fiction by turning to “ethnic” writers as have critics of American literature, means we have a growing body of secondary material on zainichi writing. Wender’s useful bibliography at the end of her book lists 25 such examples, including her earlier book, Lamentation as History: Narratives by Koreans in Japan, 1965-2000 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005); but only three works of zainichi fiction in English translation. (There are, actually, considerably more, some of which are too recent to have been included in Wender’s list—for example, Cindi Textor’s English translation of Kim Sǂk-pǂm’s The Curious Tale of Mandogi’s Ghost, New York: Columbia University Press, 2010). The zainichi writers represented in this anthology are both expected and not. It begins with one of the most celebrated works of Resident Korean literature, Kim Sa-ryang’s 1939 Akutagawa Prize-nominated short story “Into the Light,” which I consider (along with Yi Kwang-su’s 1909 “Maybe Love”) the best writing by any Korean in Japanese before 1945; and it ends with “Full House” by Ynj Miri, now a famous (notorious) “celebrity of sorts,” as Wender gingerly puts it (172). In between are writers admittedly “obscure,” such as Chong Ch’u-wǂl and Kim Ch’ang- saeng, but we also have Kim Tal-su, “the man usually identified as the father or founder of Zainichi Korean literature” (5) and the much mourned, gifted Yi Yang-ji, who died at age forty-seven not so much “of a sudden illness” (132) as from, in the words of a friend Yi and I shared, “a determination to drink herself to death”—a biographical detail I give you because it is much in keeping with the overall tragic tone of this anthology and the genre as a whole.  Readers will find, abundantly, the domestic violence, sexual abuse and personal abjection long associated with narratives of zainichi society, and, apart from Ynj Miri’s wonderful trademark sardonicism, little levity. There are two stories I draw your attention to. The first, “Foreign Husband” (1958), is by Noguchi Kakuchnj, né Chang Hyǀkchu (1905- 1997), who began his long life at the start of Japan’s assumption of control over his native peninsula, became the first Korean writer celebrity in Tokyo literary circles in the early 1930s, grew sycophantic during the war years, eventually naturalized as a Japanese, and died in bitter obscurity in the Saitama town of Hidaka not far from the Koma Shrine dedicated to ancient Korean immigrants to the Japanese islands. Noguchi’s writings (in three languages, including English late in his life) combine to tell the story of a man neither at home in Korea nor Japan, and whose frustrations resulted in hurting the people—fellow Korea writers, and family members—closest to him. (In 1996 I attempted to find Noguchi’s home in Hidaka, hoping to meet him, but failed. Years later, Kawamura Minato told me he would have surely refused to see me, suggesting his rancour with the world precluded encounters with Pacific Affairs: Volume 85, No. 1 - March 2012 216 American enthusiasts.) “Foreign Husband” captures in miniature its author’s lifelong struggle to reconcile his Korean roots with his Japanese conversion via the hurt wrought by jealousy, not only between husband and wife but between Korea and Japan. “Frozen Mouth” (1966) is an excerpt from the autobiographical novel by Kim Hak-yǂng (1938-86). The protagonist, like the author, is an alcoholic chemist with a stutter and suicide on his mind. (Kim would kill himself twenty years later.) Elise Foxworth’s translation sent me running to the entire novel: as a stutterer myself, I was overwhelmed by Kim’s perspicuous insight into the inner life of people with unpredictable speech impairments, “the inability to say necessary things at necessary times” (101). Literature typically treats the stutterer with derision, mirth or pity, but “Frozen Mouth” does none of that. For Kim’s Choi, stuttering is an existential challenge, not unlike being a Korean in Japan, because as Marc Shell pointed out in Stutter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), historically the “barbarian” is one who does not speak our language, and the “stutterer” is one who does not speak our language our way (73). To their credit, Melissa Wender and her fellow Into the Light translators have rendered the variously cloven tongues of some of Japan’s best Resident Korean writers into eloquent, but purposefully not quite our, English. Yale University, New Haven, USA   JOHN WHITTIER TREAT IN SEARCH OF KOREAN TRADITIONAL OPERA: Discourses of Ch’anggǎk. By Andrew Killick. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2010. xxxi, 254 pp. (Tables, figures, B&W and coloured photos.) US$48.00, cloth. ISBN 978-0-8248-3290-2. In his treatise In Search of Korean Traditional Opera: Discourses of Ch’anggǎk, Andrew Killick reports back on his decades-long sojourn into the depths of the Korean musical theatre genre ch’anggǎk. A genre vying to be crowned as Korean’s national counterpart to the longstanding theatre traditions of its nearest neighbours, Japan’s Noh and Kabuki and China’s Peking Opera, ch’anggǎk has had an uphill climb. Invented in the twentieth century, ch’anggǎk came of age during the Japanese Imperial era, reinventing itself in various ways over the years. This formal instability, as well as its somewhat fluid relationship to its mother, the much older Korean story-singing genre p’ansori (first mentioned in the written record in 1754), has prevented ch’anggǎk entry into the system of intangible cultural assets initially set up under Park Chung-hee in 1962. As Killick has argued elsewhere, this is because while ch’anggǎk has an air of tradition surrounding it—it employs the traditional stories and


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