Methods of viewing colonial societies have been hotly debated in the academic circle at home and abroad since the second half of the 1980s. Current discourse on the topic is dominated by three perspectives: the colonial exploitation theory, the colonial modernization theory, and the colonial modernity theory. In recent years, scholars’ focal interests have gradually shifted to the colonial modernity theory. Research on colonial modernity stresses identifying “modernity” more than “coloniality” and tends to attach less importance to the issue of the nation in a colony (domination by a foreign tribe). Yet the issue of the nation is not something that can be overlooked in addressing colonial Korea. Many Japanese migrated to Korea immediately after the Russo-Japanese War, and their presence changed the colonial Korean society to a great extent. Japanese and Korean residents were separated in terms of area of residence, economic consumption, culture, education, and health service. This was largely due to a series of policies adopted by the Japanese Government-General in Korea to encourage Japanese to move to Korea, such as policies ensuring the same health and education services as available in the Japanese mainland. As a result, colonial Korean society turned into a dual society differentiated by a high class, majorly composed of Japanese and a handful of Koreans, and a low class, consisting of a great majority of Koreans and a few Japanese. In other words, colonial Korean society became a “multilayered dual society” where nation and class were complicatedly intertwined.
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