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Critical Asian Studies: Film Discussion on the Kanto Earthquake Massacre, May 9, 2014

The Great Kanto Earthquake and the Narratives of Colonial Atrocity 90 Years Later

May 9, 2014, at 2:30pm
275 Nicholson Hall

Film Screening and Discussion with Jinhee Lee, History, Eastern Illinois University, and Arthur Mitchell, Asian Languages and Cultures, Macalester

Kanto earthquake Jinhee Lee

In 1923, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake shook Tokyo and Yokohoma, essentially leveling Japan’s two largest cities and causing more than 100,000 deaths. The subsequent aftershocks, fires, and ensuing panic bred rumors that “malcontent Koreans” living in Japan were setting the fires, poisoning water wells, and plotting a revolution. To prevent this alleged uprising, vigilantes along with police and the military massacred more than 6,000 Koreans.

Partly to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the massacre, two unreleased rare documentaries from Japan have been touring the United States since last September. The films, in Japanese and Korean with English subtitles, feature interviews with Japanese and Korean survivors, and were directed by Choongkong Oh, a Korean resident of Japan.

hidden scars jinhee lee1. “Hidden Scars: The Massacre of Koreans from the Arakawa River Bank to Shitamachi in Tokyo
[隠された爪跡 – 東京荒川土手周辺から下町の虐殺] (Directed by Choongkong Oh, 1983, 58 mins.)

Released to the English-speaking world for the first time to mark ninety years since the 1923 Kanto Earthquake and the massacre of Koreans in Japan, this documentary features survivors’ testimonials and explains the natural and man-made aspects behind the disaster and tragedy.

disposed of koreans jinhee lee

2. “The Disposed-Of Koreans: The Great Kantō Earthquake and Camp Narashino
[払い下げられた朝鮮人-関東大震災と習志野収容所] (Directed by Choongkong Oh, 1986, 50 mins.)

Following the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, Japanese authorities herded resident Koreans into a camp to “protect” them from vigilantes’ attacks. This documentary traces the memories and commemorations of what became a double massacre of Koreans in the disaster-stricken Japanese society.

Jinhee Lee is Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of Asian Studies at Eastern Illinois University. Her research focuses on the competing narratives of collective violence in the Japanese empire. Arthur Mitchell is Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at Macalester University, teaching courses in Japanese film, animation, literature, and translation. After a screening of the films, Profs. Lee and Mitchell will talk about the 1923 Kanto earthquake and information that gave rise to the massacre.

Organized by the IAS  Critical Asian Studies Collaborative and cosponsored with the History Department at Metropolitan State University, the University of Minnesota Department of Asian Languages and Literatures and Deptartment of History.

This event is designated by the Office of the Vice President for Research to satisfy the Awareness/Discussion component of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) continuing education requirement.

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