chapter  1
18 Pages

Contested spaces of ethnicity

Zainichi Korean accounts of the atomic bombings
WithErik Ropers

This chapter examines the emergence of Korean hibakusha testimonies through the development of historical and testimonial works about Korean hibakusha resident in Japan. Their emergence is related to wider historical discussions and analyses by zainichi Koreans in the mid-1960s, which broadly center on aspects of colonial and wartime history such as forced labor. The chapter examines how survivors, community organizations, and activists have positioned themselves vis-à-vis common narratives and understandings of the atomic bombings in Japan, criticized by some as “ethnic histories” that focus on the Japanese majority to the exclusion of others. The marginalization of zainichi Koreans is clearly evident in survivor testimonies, as are the ways that survivors, community members, and activists sought to narrate counter-histories incorporating a Korean perspective. From this we are better able to understand the historical context and experiences of Koreans at Ground Zero, as well as broader social and political movements seen in the zainichi Korean community around the times in question.