The Non-Nationalized Narrative of Two Korean School Graduates

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Miyuki HASHIMOTO , Rikkyo University, Japan
In April 2010, the Japanese government began a tuition-waiver program for high school education. In February 2013, after many twists and turns, Korean schools (chosengakko) were excluded because of their connection to North Korea. In the media and through popular hearsay, Korean schools have often been identified with North Korea, and Korean school students are exposed to the outside prejudice that they are "brainwashed, anti-Japanese children."

  In this paper, based on an interview about whether it was appropriate to exclude Korean schools from the waiver program, I present the complicated realities of an insider’s life story.  The interviewees are a couple living in a local Japanese city with their 6-month-old baby. Each member of the couple is a third-generation zainichi Korean, born in the 1970s, and attended Korean school for approximately ten years. While the interviewer is a Japanese who is an outsider to the Korean school system, I have known one of the interviewees for a long period of time. Thus, when this interviewee characterized our interview as "the occasion to put my life in order," I could hear these insider’s life stories about Korean school without the interference of a mindset gap between insider and outsider.

  Though the two interviewees’ reasons and experiences are different from each other, the opinions they arrive at in this interview are similar:

1) Because of their own difficult experiences, neither interviewee wishes to have their son attend Korean school.

2) Neither interviewee entirely denies the value of Korean school itself.

3) Both are against the exclusion of Korean schools from the tuition-waiver program.

  Do these opinions run in contradiction to one other?  Although it may seem so to outsiders, it is possible to understand these opinions as consistent if they are not viewed as part of a national (i.e. North Korean) framework.