chapter  2
12 Pages

Modeling The West, Returning To Asia: The 1929 Korean Exposition

The Kyoˇngbok palace was opened again to the public to stage the second exposition organized by the colonial government, the 1929 Korean Exposition (Chosoˇn pangnamhoe), which was held from September 12 to October 31. A souvenir postcard shows a picture of two women, each in Japanese and Korean traditional customs, holding together a fan showing the word “commemoration” (Figure 2.1). As part of a massive campaign for the exposition, it was circulated as a visual summary of the event, aimed at staging the “harmony between the Japanese and Korean” (naisen yuwa) united by “the spirit of the Far East.”1 The ideology of assimilation refined by the rhetoric of “co-prosperity”2 was echoed everywhere, including a song devoted to the exposition:

The exposition is . . . a miniature of Korea . . . telling us of the progress of industry and culture. . . . Ah! homeland [Japan] and Korea, let’s work together, hand in hand for progress. . . . Look at the essence of Korean civilization, prosperous under the united efforts between the government and people . . . . The Kyoˇngbok palace [exposition] waits for you with the spirit of the Far East. Come and work together for a nation of brothers and for cultural progress toward the unity of the continent [Asia]!3