This paper examines the 1944 publication, To My Soldier Brother 徴兵の兄さんへ, a collection of “comfort letters” written by Korean elementary school students addressed to an anonymous group of “Soldier Brothers.” Like shrine visits and memorization of military songs, letter-writing was a performance of allegiance demanded upon the colonized that revealed imperial investment in articulating an imagined kinship between Korean subjects and imperial soldiers. Through a close reading of its highly prescribed contents that converge on the Korean pledge of loyalty to and overflowing gratitude for the Emperor, this paper shows how Korean children negotiated their membership in the empire and what emotions were generated in their writings. Although their ultimate goal was full membership within the imperial kinship, the Korean children wholly recognized and registered their place in the empire as hantŏjin first, and then expressed their desire to become Japanese, naichijin.
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