Korea was occupied for 35 years by the Japanese Empire, from1910-45. It is a history that still defines what it means to be Korean. On August 15th of 2006, the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visited Yasukuni Jinja, a shrine in Tokyo dedicated to the souls of soldiers who had given their lives for the Emperor. The year marked the 61st anniversary of Japan’s surrender and Korea’s liberation in World War II, and Koizumi was the first prime minister in twenty years to visit Yasukuni on that particular day. The visit sparked strong reactions in Korean media and, created a related stir Korea’s political sphere. Indeed, Koizumi’s move prompted the South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun to postpone his visits to Japan for a year.
In the Korean media sphere, Koizumi’s Yasukuni visit re-animated the figure of Japan as it existed during World War II. For Koreans, what may have been a small step for the Japanese Prime Minister, was seen as a trampling over of the Korean nation, and signified Japanese disregard to Korea’s past suffering. In this paper I briefly present and discuss some of the Korean reactions to the Yasukuni Shrine issue in 2006. I consider how Korean online media represented the case to its foreign, English-speaking audiences and through that process, constructed and renewed a Korean national identity.
Read the whole paper here. For a longer version in Finnish, see this link. All comments are welcome!