Kim Talsu's buraku stories
Chosenese and so-called special buraku people
By William Wetherall
First posted 8 January 2011
Last updated 10 Feburary 2011
"Fuji no mieru mura de" anthology
Kim Talsu (author)
This anthology includes the following eight stories (the dates and related comments are as given at the end of each story.
Kyo Nanki's drawings
The cuts on the cover and title page -- signed "Haukuŭ" in mixed-case alphabetic letters, the last marked with a breve -- are attributed at the end of the contents page to 許南麒, which I take to be the poet Kyo Nanki or Hŏ Namgi (許南麒、허남기、ほなんぎ). An ardent supporter of Kim Song Il, Kyo (1918-1988) was closely involved with the formation of "national [ethnic] education" schools for Koreans in Japan during the Allied Occupation.
Kawamura Minato cites a poem attributed to "Fo Namukii" (フォ・ナムキイ) in the July 1947 issue of the Minshu Chōsen (Kawamura 1999, page 58). At the time, Kyo appears to have been the principle of Chōren Gakuen (朝聯学園) in the Kawaguchi city in Saitama prefecture.
This story involves U-town, Y-city, and Yanotsu pass. U-town, the home of U-dock, a shipyard, has recently been incorporated into Y-city, but locals still refer to it as a town between Y-city and Yanotsu pass. The story involves turf wars between local people, including the head of the Y-city branch of Chōren (朝連).
Y-city and U-town are givaways for Yokosuka and Uraga, the site of Uraga Dock Company, which had been one of the largest private shipbuilders in the world. Uraga was incorporated into Yokosuka in 1943. The shipyard, which dated back to arrival of Commodore Perry's blackships in Uraga Bay in 1853, was bought by Sumitomo in 1969 but closed in 2003.
This story involves Gen Yakichi (玄八吉), who starts a scavaging (バタ屋 bataya) business, sets his eyes on U Dock, and inevitably gets involved with Nojiri (野尻), who has rights to collecting the shipyard's rubbish and processing its scrap. At the time, Nojiri was collecting the yard's trash once a day. Parenthetically, Kim Talsu notes that, after the incident on the continent (referring to the war in China), the yard became so busy that every third day collections were made both in the morning and the afternoon, and then they were made twice a day everyday (page 103). The narration includes other details on the yard's history from its blackship origins.
Nojiri was a lowly U Dock employee when he asked its president, a former imperial navy admiral, to give him the trash. The president laughed at the little man's request but complied. Apparently Nojiri was not one to display his success, for unknown even to U-town assembly members, much less to Yakichi, he had come to possess a considerable amount of the company's stock through his dealings in metal recycling (page 116).
The title is followed by an note to the effect that, according to a certain dictionary, "reikan" (令監) -- "yŏnggam" in Korean -- is a pronoun for (1) a certain rank of official, and (2) an elderly man -- and is used with the latter sense here.
This story, too, involves a number of rather rough characters who had settled in Chosen buraku (朝鮮部落 Chōsen buraku) in or around Y-city, including the N-landfill-buraku, before and after the end of World War II. Some postwar scenes touch upon Chōren activities in the area.
The story ends with the brutal ending of Son's life four days after 23 June 1951, when Yakov Malik, USSR's representative to the United Nations proposed an armistice in the Korean War.
Me no iro
This story introduces Iwamura Ichitarō, the protagonist of the reappears in appears in the title story which follows it. The first-person protagonist is one of the editors of "the magazine M·C" (Ｍ・Ｃ雑誌 M·C zasshi), publishing by M·C company, to which Iwamura, a novelist and friend, has sent a manuscript.
In the story, the magazine is described a one which, though written in Japanese, and featuring material contributed also by Japanese social scientists, writers and critics, is tied to the organization Chōren (page 181). Even without this explanation, it would be clear from the story that "M·C" means "Minshu Chōsen" (民主朝鮮) or "Democratic Chōsen".
The time of the writing of this story is signifant, as on 8 September 1949, the Japanese government, with the blessings and in fact under the direction of GHQ/SCAP, had ordered Chōren to dispand on account of not entirely convincing charges that it was involved in subversive (communist) activities on the Korean peninsula.
The story describes Iwamura as a member of the Communist Party, who was teaching at an elementary school, and had been friendly with Chōren comrades. The thick manuscript he had sent the magazine portrayed -- "breaking" a "commandment" (「戒」を「破」つて "imashime" o "yabu"tte) -- the sorrows of his own live as someone who had been born a special buraku person (特殊部落民 tokushu buraku min) (page 182).
The manner in which Kim Talsu drew attention to the graphs for "kai" (戒) and "ha" (破) was a extremely anti-literary allusion -- which every well-read person in Japan, including Koreans like himself -- to Shimazaki Tōson's 1906 novel Hakai (see Shimazai Toson's "Hakai" for details). The narrator -- clearly modeled on Kim himself -- launches into a very prosaic comparison of special buraku people and Chosenese.
Iwamura's story is about a certain boy who has been called "eta" (えた) and "chōrinbō" (ちょうりんぼう) at school (page 184). A superior student, he attends night classes at a college in Tokyo until he is outed. He gets drafted, is sent to the war in the south, returns wounded, gets a job in a munitions factory, falls in love with a girl who has been conscripted for work there, and she turns out to be a "non-burku person" (非部落民) -- which the narrator explains as meaning "in other words [a person] not of the birth of a so-called special buraku person" (つまりいわゆる特殊部落民の生れではない) (pages 184-185). At the core of the story is confession (告白 kokuhaku), marriage (結婚 kekkon), and "resistance to the status discrimination surrounding the marriage" (その結婚をめぐつての身分的差別にたいするあるがい sono kekkon o megutte no mibun-teki sabetsu ni tai suru arugai) (page 185).
The narrator says that he has been able to have "common feelings and similar emotions" [compassions and sympathies] (共感と同情 kyōkan to dōjō) for Iwamura. And in what appears to be (or could be mistaken for) wordplay, he attributes these to "the directly special relationship between special buraku person Iwamura Ichitarō and Chosenese me" (いわゆる彼 [sic] 特殊部落民・岩村市太郎と、朝鮮人・私という直接的に特殊な関係) (page 186).
Iwamura claims "They are looking at us with colored glasses, and we are not telling them to look at us correctly." The narrator says he has a problem with the color of Iwamura's glasses. Iwamura rejects the implication that there is anything wrong with his view. "You don't know. Because you don't know about us. Because you've been liberated, you've already forgotten, and don't know. So I'm hoping that you will understand."
Whether or not Chosenese are liberated is itself a problem, the narrator says, and suggests that rather than running the Iwamura's story in a "special magazine" (特殊な雑誌 tokushu-na zasshi) like M·C, which -- which is connected only with Chosenese -- an effort be made to publish it in the more "central" literary magazine he has already named (pages 204-205).
Later Iwamura tells the narrator how happy he is about the fact that "I have met you who does not have a particular color of eye for me" (自分に特別な眼の色をもたないあなたに会つた jibun ni tokubetsu-na me no iro o motanai anata ni atta) (page 213).
Fuji no mieru mura de