This presentation will focus on key aspects of the everyday life experiences within the colonial city. One of the central features of colonial Seoul was its division into a Korean district and a Japanese district that had considerable disparity in terms of urban development. This dual transformation of Seoul led its residents to redefine their urban spaces and collective identities according to ethnic lines. Colonial Seoul is a particularly important site for exploration, because this was the location where many Koreans encountered both a colonial reality and a nascent capitalist modernity in their most palpable forms. Koreans living in the countryside could live their entire lives with little evidence of the Japanese presence. Many parts of Korea remained isolated from development and experienced hardly any changes throughout the Japanese occupation. However, the Korean residents of Seoul were acutely aware of the transformations that took place within the capital city, which was a major showcase of the Japanese empire, and the shifting urban landscape influenced their collective identities as colonized subjects.
Through images and various Korean voices from the colonial past, this presentation will attempt to contextualize the colonial transformation of Seoul.The lecture will be held at 7:30 pm tonight (Tuesday) in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is behind Jogyesa Temple, and is 7,000 won for non-members and free for members. More information can be found here.
Anyone wanting to read more about the colonial development of Korean cities can do so at this issue of Korea Journal, which features articles about the development of Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and Mokpo during the colonial period. Even today Mokpo is, as Robert Koehler described it, 'an outdoor museum of colonial Korea.'