ISSN : 0023-3900
Beginning in the mid-1930s, and later as a member of the Axis Powers, imperial Japan allied with Nazi Germany and historians have extensively examined how the two countries viewed each other and what material and ideological conditions underpinned their alliance. However, researchers have paid little attention to colonial Korea’s intersection with the fascist moment because Korea did not exist as an independent entity until Japan’s defeat in World War II. This article explores how the public discourse of colonial Korea engaged with the politics of fascism, the varying influence of Adolf Hitler, and Japan’s relationship with Nazi Germany. This essay investigates how different agents in colonial Korea, including the Japanese authorities, Korean leaders, and various print media, adopted, undercut, or opposed Japanese fascism by focusing on their shifting perspectives on totalitarian rule and the geopolitical situations in Europe and Asia. Because experiencing the discrepancy between the rhetoric of inclusive assimilation and its actual practice, Korean leftists, pro-Japanese intellectuals, and nationalist students appropriated fascist ideology regardless of their divergent political goals. These Korean elites tried to bridge that divide by embracing the fascist will to power, a move that led some to seek domination and elevate their status within the imperial structure and others to defy it.