Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea, 1910-1945

ISBN 10: 0801438543 / ISBN 13: 9780801438547
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In the rich and varied life stories in Under the Black Umbrella, elderly Koreans recall incidents that illustrate the complexities of Korea during the colonial period. Hildi Kang here reinvigorates a period of Korean history long shrouded in the silence of those who endured under the "black umbrella" of Japanese colonial rule. Existing descriptions of the colonial period tend to focus on extremes: imperial repression and national resistance, Japanese subjugation and Korean suffering, Korean backwardness and Japanese progress. "Most people," Kang says, "have read or heard only the horror stories which, although true, tell only a small segment of colonial life."

The varied accounts in Under the Black Umbrella reveal a truth that is both more ambiguous and more human―the small-scale, mundane realities of life in colonial Korea. Accessible and attractive narratives, linked by brief historical overviews, provide a large and fully textured view of Korea under Japanese rule. Looking past racial hatred and repression, Kang reveals small acts of resistance carried out by Koreans, as well as gestures of fairness by Japanese colonizers. Impressive for the history it recovers and preserves, Under the Black Umbrella is a candid, human account of a complicated time in a contested place.

From the Inside Flap: "Whereas history is usually a story of 'great men' told by its 'winners,' Hildi Kang's Under the Black Umbrella offers new insights into Korean history as it was lived every day by ordinary people. The diversity and heterogeneity of human experiences in Under the Black Umbrella challenge the oversimplified story of the Japanese colonial period in Korea that has held sway in Korean history until now."--Elaine M. Kim, University of California, Berkeley

"For its many voices and for the candor that comes from those voices, Under the Black Umbrella is a book of exceptional merit.Through the observations and reminiscences of Koreans who lived under Japanese rule, Hildi Kang shows us an interesting and mostly unknown picture of daily life in a neglected colony."--Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

"Under the Black Umbrella is a pioneering collection of oral histories of Koreans who lived through the turbulent years of Japanese rule.  It has many rich, vivid, and moving stories that reveal diversity and complexity of colonial life.  No doubt this book will be a valuable addition to the growing body of works on colonial Korea in the West."--Gi-Wook Shin, University of California, Los Angeles

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