Graduation Year

2023

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree

Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

History

Thesis Advisor

Jordan Lieser, PhD

Abstract

Upon the influence of western imperialism reaching East Asia, Japan began its own imperial conquests as it worked to establish itself as a world power alongside Russia and Western powers. After the first Sino-Japanese war between Qing China and Imperial Japan, China was forced to recognize independence to Korea, along with ceding the Taiwan, Pescadores and Liaodong territories to Japan as of 1895. While Japan initially claimed to promote Korea’s independence and nationalism, they officially ended up annexing Korea as of 1910. From the perspective of the western powers and historians, they were initially optimistic about Japan’s reform on Koreans. However, as more information was revealed to the world about Japanese rule, more and more individuals began to condemn the colonization. This paper aims to analyze the cultural impact of Japanese rule in the Korean Peninsula, specifically analyzing the revived cultural literature, the global perception of annexation throughout the 20th and into the 21st century, and primary accounts from the time period. I hope to suggest that colonial rule in Korea was nothing short of an atrocity against humanity that aimed to strip Koreans of cultural identity, but also that the success of Korea, notably South Korea, was made possible by the Korean citizens that rebuilt the country after colonization rather than the Japanese government. Ultimately this paper aims to contribute to the rich historiography regarding Japanese colonialism and provide a more raw perspective on the impact of cultural genocide in Korean society, as well as bring light to the impact of the colonial era in the present day.

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