Anti-Japanese Upswing in North Korean Media

For their strange yet uniquely logical reasons, the North Korean propagandists are pressing Japan to never forget its colonial past.  This is, in my estimation, a way of reminding the nascent/new Japanese government that in spite of whatever change of power in Japan, the colonial past remains raw and unaccounted for.  By the same token, all the same old platitudes apply for Pyongyang’s anti-Japanese tactic: it links the regime to its legitimate past, brings together all of the Korean people (speaking in ways that Lee Myung-bak could only dream of, while implicitly comparing him to the traitors of 1910), keeps the Japanese off-balance in their demands for transparency on the abduction issue, and (most importantly) keeps in the forefront the need for Japanese financial compensation to North Korea:

Minju Chosun [Democratic Korea / 民主朝鲜] editorialized on August 22 (one of a series of KCNA dispatches on similar themes last week):

Since the defeat of Japan, its government has justified its past crimes, falsifying the above-said stark historical reality.

The Japanese imperialists invaded Korea on the basis of the above-said “document” which was no more than a waste paper having no legal validity, imposing colonial slavery upon the Koreans. They will never tolerate this monstrous crime but certainly force Japan to pay for it.

They will always remember the truth of history that a country may go to ruin in a moment but its rehabilitation will last for a millennium.

The Korean people will bolster up their capability for self-defense in every way in order not to see the repetition of the national tragedy in which they were subject to slavery in bitter tears as they were too weak to react to the strong-arm policy of outsiders to infringe upon the sovereignty of their country.

My dissertation, “Chinese Nationalism in the Shadow of Japan, 1945-1950,” (Ohio University, 2005), dealt with similar tropes in Chinese media, with an emphasis on the Chinese Communist Party, in a period of similar strife.  While the CCP continues to manipulate anti-Japanese nationalism, it’s downright hard to trump Pyongyang in this regard.

Those wondering why China ever supports North Korea should keep in mind that, however tenuous, burning anti-Japanese sentiment (and the willingness to brandish it when politically expedient) is one area where Pyongyang and Beijing still basically see eye-to-eye.

Mother of the Nation and Anti-Japanese Guerilla Fighter, Kim Jong Suk (collection of Adam Cathcart)
Mother of the Nation and Anti-Japanese Guerilla Fighter, Kim Jong Suk (collection of Adam Cathcart)

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