From the page to the screen : representations of zainichi identity

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2016-05

Authors

Cramer, Hilary M.

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Abstract

This report looks at how zainichi identity has been constructed and negotiated by prominent zainichi figures in Japan over the past three decades. Zainichi are ethnically Korean and are Korean citizens, but reside in Japan. They straddle both cultures, but belong to neither. My case studies include three prominent zainichi figures: Yi Yangji (1955-1992), a literary author whose semi-fictional works demonstrate the difficulties zainichi experience when trying to adapt to Korean culture; Yū Miri (b. 1968), a politically-engaged author and essayist whose works show the difficulties faced by zainichi who try to maintain a hybrid identity while living in Japan; and Akiyama Yoshihiro (b. 1975), a Mixed Martial Artist and popular culture icon, who successfully straddles the two cultures, capitalizing on his fluid, hybrid identity in order to achieve transnational stardom. For each of these figures, on a personal level, such representations offer a means for them to renegotiate their ties to South Korea and their place in Japan. On a more political and universal level, these artists and their lives are calls for acceptance, both self-acceptance by zainichi as well as by citizens of both nations to embrace the in-betweenness.

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