Soccer politics

Chong Tese's nationality in Japan and elsewhere

By William Wetherall

First posted 20 May 2010
Last updated 1 October 2010

Territorial rivalry Son Kitei and Nan Shoryu | Rikidozan | Shirai Takako | Chong Tese | Lee Tadanori

Territorial rivalry and sports

Ethologists -- who study animal behavior -- have characterized games, especially sports, as ritualized forms of war. Like war, competitions, such as in the Olympic Games, are intensely territorial. Their battles are pitched on fields and slopes, and in rinks and rings, as spectators in stands cheer and wave flags, or gather around high-definition TV monitors and engage in all manner of pageantry in their expression of national (or at least local, school, or familial) pride.

That homeboys and homegirls should play for the home team goes without saying -- to people who stay in their native habitat. Today a family may move to a neighboring district or town, and the children -- because they change their school affiliation -- will face their former schoolmates at interdistrict or intertown football games and track tournaments.

Or two towns merge into a larger city and the townsmen, once rivals, become denizens of a common territory.


Son Kitei (Japanese) and Nan Shoryu (Japanese)

Son Kitei and Nan Shoryu -- two exceptionally talented marathoners, born as Japanese nationals of Chosenese regional (subnational) status -- took the gold and bronze medals in the marathon event at the Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936.

The two athletes continue to be the object of a tug of war between International Olympic Committee (IOC) records, which are based on formal status under international law, and Korean ethnonationalists, who endeavor to de-Japanize their past statuses. Both men contributed their own measure to the controversy that still resounds in the halls of history.

Under International Olympic Committee rules, the men, as Japanese nationals, competed under the flag of Japan, and hence IOC attributes their medals to Japan. There was no Korean state at the time, as in 1910 Korea had become part of Japan in the eyes of international law, and Japan had formally changed the name of its new territory to Chosen.

Korean ethnonationalists, however, regard the 1910 annexation of annexation of Korea as Chosen as illegal, and hence they feel the medals should be attributed to "Korea" -- defined as (depending on the color of one's "Korean" stripes) the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), or simply "Korea". ROK and DPRK were not, however, founded until 1948 -- though some ROK nationalists insist that ROK was established as the so-called "Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea" in Shanghai in 1919, if not in spirit from the start of resistance to the annexation in 1910.

After Japan provisionally abandoned Chosen under the terms surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Son and Nan, then as Sohn and Nam, had a great influence on the training of marathoners in the southern part of the divided Korean peninsula, which was occupied by the United States until the formation of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Sohn especially, but Nam as well, also had a notable impact on the larger world of distance runners, including the Boston Marathon and future Olympic games.

By any other name but "Son" and "Nan"

Son Kitei is the name by which 孫基禎 (1914-2002) is known in IOC records, reflecting the Sino-Japanese reading of the graphs of his name, which in Sino-Korean are read 손기정 (Son Kijŏn) in hangul (McCune-Reischauer romanization). Another spelling of his name at the time was Sohn Kee Chung or a variation.

Nan Shōryū is the IOC name of 南昇龍 (1912-2001), the graphs of which are read 남승용 (Nam Nam Sŭngnyong) in hangul (McCune-Reischauer romanization). Another spelling of (남승용) in McCune-Reischauer romanization. Another spelling of his name at the time was Nam Sung Yong or a variation.

A number of writers dispute that "Son Kitei" and "Nan Shōryū" were legitimate names of these men, because they reflect "Japanese" rather than "Korean" readings of the graphs by which they were known in their Chosen household registers.

For the record, the practice of reading the graphic forms Chinese and Korean names in Sino-Japanese began long before Taiwan and Korean became parts of Japan -- and continues today in Japanese media. Hangul forms of the names of ROK and DPRK nationals today, for that matter, are likely to be transformed, in Japan, into Sino-Japanese readings of the graphs known or presumed to underlie the hangul forms.

There are considerable differences in name rendering standards in Japan, however, depending on the government agency and the media company. The Ministry of Education in Japan generally favors the Sino-Japanese school, as does the National Diet Library, which is under the ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, follows diplomatic protocol, which calls for pronouncing the names as nearly as possible to their "local" or "native" pronunciations. Japanese chapters of the International Library Association also follow rules which favor romanization according to "local" or "native" pronunciations.

In the meantime, the convention in China is generally to pronounce graphic Japanese names according to their Chinese readings -- while in both ROK and DPRK they are generally rendered in hangul that closely approximates their Sino-Japanese reading.

Critical commotion

A lot is made by academic and other "critics" of Japan's imperial past in relation to Korea and Koreans. Some critics take the International Olympic Committee to task for allowing Japan to field Son and Nan as "Japanese" under their "Sino-Japanese" names. Some also condemn IOC for scheduling the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo -- cancelled only because of the outbreak of World War II in Europe in 1939.

However, if the standards of criticism levelled at the Empire of Japan had been applied to other states -- including the United States, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Soviet Union, among others, even the Republic of China -- there would have been no Olympics in any major country.


Rikidozan (Japanese / Naichi)

Rikidōzan (力道山 1924-1963), born a Japanese national in Chosen, was adopted into an Interior (prefectural) family in order to change his regional affiliation within the Empire of Japan from Chosenese to Interiorite. He did this in order to be able to compete in Interior sumo tournaments, for sumo was regionalized within the empire.

During the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) after World War II, Rikidōzan achieved herodom in Japan's professional wrestling world by beating American and other foreign wrestlers. All Chosenese and Taiwanese lost their Japanese nationality in 1952, but because Rikidōzan, having become an Interiorite, remained Japanese, and as such he continued to compete in Japan, and in other countries, as a representative of Japan.

See Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes for a full transcript of the text and notes of my 1981 chapter in A version of this article appeared in Changsoo Lee and George De Vos (editors), Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981 (Chapter 12, pages 281-303 text, 406-413 notes). Note, at the beginning of this article, the comments on inaccuracies in some of its descriptions of Rikidōzan's status and some other matters.


Shirai Takako (Japanese)


The first case of The Japanization of Korean athletes and performers through adoption is a fairly common practice. Another well-known example is ace spiker Shirai Takako, who led Japan's women's volleyball team to a silver medal in the Munich Summer Olympics in 1972, and to a gold medal in the Montreal Summer Olympics in 1976. Shirai became a volleyball star as a Korean Nisei, but she had to become "Japanese" in both nationality and name before she could play in international competition on the All-Japan team. Both conditions were met when the coach of a company team she had played for adopted her as his daughter.


Chong Tese (ROK / DPRK)


Chong_2011_zainichi_tamashii Kanemura_2000_zainichi_tamashii

金村義明 (かねむらよしあき)
在日魂 (ざいにちたましい)
2000年11月22日 第1刷発行
2000年12月11日 第2刷発行

Kanemura Yoshiaki (© Yoshiaki Kanemura)
Zainichi tamashii
Tokyo: Kōdansha
22 November 2000, 1st printing
11 December 2000, 2nd printing
254 pages, hardcover

Kodansha published a bunko edition in 2004.

本名:金義明 キム・ウィミョン 出版社/著者からの内容紹介 よっ、甲子園優勝投手!かがやけ、在日の星! 笑いと涙の炸裂する、野球人=キム・ウィミョン(金義明)の男どアホウ破天荒人生! 内容(「BOOK」データベースより) よ、甲子園優勝投手!かがやけ、在日の星!笑いと涙の炸裂する、野球人=キム・ウィミョン(金義明)の男どアホウ破天荒人生。 出版社 / 著者からの内容紹介 元祖いてまえ男のガムシャラ野球人生 エースで4番。甲子園優勝投手としてプロ野球入りし、18年間活躍した金村義明。その負けん気の源は在日三世の生い立ちにあった。優等生だがやんちゃもした学校時代、挫折と栄光の現役時代、そして家ではゲンコツ教育を実践する正しき親父となる。出身球団、近鉄消滅に、球界再編を熱く斬る新章を追加! 内容(「BOOK」データベースより) エースで四番。甲子園優勝投手としてプロ野球入りし、十八年間活躍した金村義明。その負けん気の源は在日三世の生い立ちにあった。優等生だがやんちゃもした学校時代、挫折と栄光の現役時代、そして家ではゲンコツ教育を実践する正しき親父となる。出身球団、近鉄消滅に、球界再編を熱く斬る新章を追加。


Lee Tadanori (Japanese)



Soccer star Chong Tese -- 鄭大世 정대세 Chŏng Taese チョン・テセ Chon [> Choŋ > Chong] Tese -- was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1984 to parents of different legal statuses. The father (Chong) is a national of the Republic of Korea (韓国人 Kankokujin), and the mother (李 I, Ri) is a legacy status Chosenese (Chōsenjin 朝鮮人).

In an interview after DPRK's loss to Brazil in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Chong referred to himself as a "minority" (マイノリティー mainoritii) in Japan. Chong Ise (鄭二世 チョン・イセ), Chong's older brother by a couple of years and also a soccer player, cheered for DPRK, ROK, and Japan from a sports bar in Nagyoya.

Chong Ise told reporters that Tese's tears on the pitch in South Africa, when DPRK's national anthem was played in pregame ceremonies, was "natural" (当然 tōzen) -- because playing the World Cup had been his "dream of dreams" (夢のまた夢 yume mata WA yume) since he was young, and he had "overcome many difficulties" (多くの困難を乗り越えて Boku no Kennan o norikoete) to get to where he was that day. (Evening edition of the Chūbu (Nagoya-centered) edition of the Mainichi shinbun, 21 June 2010).

Chong Tese was still a college soccer player in 2005 when the national team of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea came to Japan to face Japan's national team in the preliminaries of the 2006 World Cup. There were a couple of Japan-born Korean players in Japan's professional J-League at the time, and Chong was soon to join a J-League team. But he also began seriously thinking of how he might play for the DPRK team -- given that the Tokyo college he was then attending had strong DPRK connections, and that he himself had come to have fairly strong feelings toward "Korea" under DPRK's flag.

Chong, at the time of his birth, was registered by his parents as an ROK national. But this was not a barrier to his enrollment a DPRK-oriented school when growing up. Nor did his ROK nationality impede his enrollment and rise to soccer stardom at the DPRK-oriented Chōsen Daigakkō (朝鮮大学校 / 朝鮮大學校 조선대학교 Chos&335;n Taehakkyo) or "Korea University" in Tokyo (more about "Korea" later).

The Korea University college soccer team competed with other university teams in the Tokyo area, and Chong -- two meters tall, fast, and agile -- was picked up by Kawasaki Frontale, a J-League team, in 2006, and quickly became one of the league's most popular forwards. By 2007 he was also competing in Asian competitions as a member of DPRK's national soccer team. He would easily have qualified for a position on Japan's national team had he naturalized and become Japanese -- but he had received the sort of education that favored remaining Korean by legal status.

Chong had been an ROK national under ROK laws, and was recognized as such under Japan's laws. In order to compete on DPRK's team, he had to have DPRK nationality, both under DPRK laws, and in the eyes of the regional and international soccer organizations that made and interpreted the rules of participation on national teams.

Chong qualified for competition on DPRK's team because he obtained a DPRK passport through the offices of an organization most simply called Chongryon (Ch'ongryŏ, Sōren). The organization (see more below), run by resident aliens who identify with DPRK, has a hand in overseeing the various DPRK-oriented grade schools in Japan, and Korea University in Tokyo, which at times have openly and legally received funding from DPRK.

In the absence of a DPRK diplomatic legation in Japan, Chongryon also acts as a liaison agency between DPRK and aliens in Japan who consider themselves, or wish to be, DPRK citizens -- as DPRK calls those who possess its nationality.

Chong apparently went through the ritual -- for that is all it could be -- of attempting to renounce his status as an ROK national in order to underscore his wish to be a DPRK citizen. And ROK, predictably, seems to have refused to allow Chong to renounce its nationality, since it did not consider him a dual national.

In other words, because ROK does not recognize DPRK's nationality, it could not facilitate Chong's renunciation of ROK nationality, for that would leave him stateless in its eyes, and of course also in Japan's eyes. Consequently, Chong ended up with two nationality statuses -- one ROK, the other DPRK.

While ROK, Japan, and certain other countries to do not recognize DPRK, many supranational organizations, such as the United Nations, recognize both ROK and DPRK. So long as Chong Tese had a DPRK passport -- and so long as he declared that for purposes of international soccer meets he considered himself affiliated with DPRK through its nationality, and did not attempt to play on another national team -- the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was willing to let him compete in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and its prelims as a member of DPRK's team.

Chong, despite his public pride in what he has achieved as a "minority" in Japan, plays ball with all national media, seemingly without much interest in the political rivalry between ROK and DPRK, and apparently on the side of both when it comes to historical Japan-Korea ties. He is comfortable before Japanese and ROK cameras, switching as required between Japanese (his mother and native tongue) and Korean (acquired at school and polished as a member of DPRK's national team).

I get the impression that Chong mainly wants to play soccer. His rise in soccer just happened to be as a student at DPRK-oriented schools in Japan. What Chong Tese had done with his ROK documents is not clear, but I would not be surprised if he continues to use his ROK passport to legally exit and enter Japan.

Chong's older brother Chong Ise (鄭二世 チョン・イセ) also attended DPRK-oriented schools, which teach Korean and otherwise attempt to impart a fairly strong pride in being of Chos#335;n racioethnicity (民族). It was Ise who first got started in soccer, and Tese who aspired to do what Ise did.

After graduating from Korea University, however, Ise, a year and some months older, began working for his father's company. Seeing Tese play in J-League, however, he himself aspired to play soccer again, and for a while he was a goalkeeper for a team in ROK's pro soccer league. At the time of this writing, he is training for a J-League team.

Ise, too, acquired his soccer skills while a student in DPRK-oriented schools -- which are known as "minzoku gakkō" (民族学校) or "ethnonational schools" in Japan. They could also be called "national" schools, with the understanding that "national" reflects the older sense of "nation" as a racioethnic entity -- not "nation" as the demographic concern of a state defined as the government of people who possess its civil nationality.

Word games

Chongryon is more fully called 在日本朝鮮人総聯合会 (재일본 조선인 총련합회 Chae Ilbon Chosŏnin Ch'ongryŏhaphoe Zai Nihon Chōsenjin Sōrengō Kai), which means "General Association of Chosenese Resident in Japan". The last component of the name is variously graphed, formally as 總聯合會 (older style) or 総聯合会 (newer style), but sometimes as 総連合会 (since 連 has replaced 聯 as the character of choice when writing the word "rengō" or "ryŏhap").

The formal public English name of the organization is "General Association of Korean Residents in Japan". "Korean Residents in Japan" reflects "Zai Nihon Chōsenjin" (在日本朝鮮人) -- but there is a slight linguistic mismatch here -- as the term actually means "Chosenese Resident in Japan".

"Zai Nihon" (在日本) is an informal way of saying that someone is in Japan, usually in the sense of being legally domiciled in Japan. While not strictly speaking limited to aliens, the abbreviated form "zai Nichi" (zai-Nichi, Zainichi, zainichi) is practically always used to describe aliens who are registered as residents of a municipality in Japan. In other words, a "zainichi alien" will be a person who is legally registered as an alien in Japan, as distinct from a non-registered alien, whether a tourist or illegal entrant.

"Korean" reflects "Chōsenjin" or "Chosŏnin" -- which opens a can of terminological worms. "Chōsenjin" (朝鮮人 조선인 Chosŏnin) refers to people affiliated with Chosŏn (Chōsen) who are "in Japan" (在日本 재일본 Zai Nihon) as residents -- i.e., they are domiciled in Japan as aliens with a status of residence. Historically, and from a legal viewpoint under Japanese law, "Chōsen" refers to a territory that was part of Japan from 1910 to 1945, and "Chōsenjin" refers to its affiliates -- i.e., "Chosenese"-- at the time.

These two terms -- "Chōsen" and "Chōsenjin" -- continue, under Japanese law, to refer to "Chosen" as a legacy entity and to "Chosenese" as a legacy status. Essentially, all former Chosenese in Japan and descendants and others who would qualify as Chosenese under Japanese law, remain Chosenese by default if they have not acquired the nationality of a state that Japan recognizes. Although some Chosenese claim to have acquired DPRK nationality, Japan does not yet recognize DPRK as a state for the purposes of nationality recognition -- hence, in the eyes of Japan, they remain "Chosenese" as a legacy status, not nationals of DPRK -- or "citizens" as DPRK's laws would deem them.

Of course DPRK -- and people in Japan who embrace DPRK's view of history -- will regard "Chōsen" as the Japanese name of "Chosŏn" -- which DPRK claims to have liberated from Japanese rule in 1945 and then formally established as a state in 1948. In other words, DPRK and its supporters regard "Chōsen" to be tantamount with "Chosŏn" -- as distinct from "Kankoku" (韓國 / 韓国 한국 Hanguk), a vernacular term for either the Republic of Korea of the Empire of Korea.

Both ROK and DPRK consider the joining of the Empire of Korea to the Empire of Japan as Chosen to have been illegal. Both view themselves as the successor state to the Empire of Korea. But ROK considers "Hanguk" (Kankoku) to have continued to be the name of "Korea" when "Korea" was ruled by Japan as "Chōsen". While both ROK and DPRK used "Korea" in their official English names as members of the United Nations, ROK will not call itself "Chosŏ" and DPRK will not call itself "Hanguk".