Life in Korea during the period of the Japanese Occupation differed greatly than life beforehand. Everything in Korea was made to match the ways of the Japanese. From schooling, to language, to jobs, to just about every other aspect of daily life, the Japanese created an iron fist around the Koreans and forced them to change. “Lost Names” by Richard E. Kim goes into detail about these changes to the lives of the Koreans. Beyond the Occupation Period, there were also lasting effects on Korean life as well.
In the book, the author goes from a Korean education to a Japanese schooling style. The Japanese required all students, no matter their nationality, to wear the same uniforms and speak only Japanese. This is even despite the fact that Japanese students and Korean students are taught separately. Speaking Korean would surely result in punishment; the author of the book learned that lesson the hard way. The overall education style of the Japanese was used, which aimed to assimilate Koreans into Japanese culture and strip them of all things Korean. No Korean history was taught during this period of time. In the book, the author was lucky enough to learn about Korean history from his father.
Overall lifestyle of the Koreans was also drastically changed during the Japanese Occupation. Even outside of school, children and adults alike were supposed to speak only Japanese. They also had to adjust to the Japanese customs like the Japanese bow, and wearing a Japanese kimono. In the book “Lost Names” there is a point where the author complains about his heels hurting from bowing the “Japanese way”. Yet another change that the Koreans had to make during the Occupation was that farmers were forced to yield their crops to the Japanese government. Because of this, some farmers stopped farming more than they needed to live off of so that they didn’t have to have their extra crop get taken away. Not only were career farmers forced to surrender to the Japanese but army-men were too as well. Korean soldiers were made to fight as members of the Japanese army.
The most significant, in my opinion, effect of the occupation on the Korean lifestyle is that the Koreans had to change their names. This aspect of the Occupation inspired the title of the book, and it’s clear why. Having to rid yourself of your name is like removing your one last tie to your heritage and self. It is what cut Koreans during that time off completely from their lives prior to the Occupation. Clearly, the effects of the Occupation hugely impacted Korean life. The changes, however, didn’t just exist during the time of the Occupation. The Japanese Occupation of Korea has had lasting effects on the nation that still are felt today.
One lasting result of the colonial period in Korea that is found to be very significant is the Comfort Women. Comfort Women are ladies who were forced to work in brothels performing sexual services to Japanese army-men during the war. Conditions in these brothels were...