Trinity Japan

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Mikwi Cho: Migration of Koreans to the Japanese metropole

Mikwi Cho: Migration of Koreans to the Japanese metropole and living legacy of Japanese colonialism (30 June 2022)

Ms Mikwi Cho, PhD candidate at Trinity College and Cambridge University

On Thursday 30 June 2022 at 6:00pm (Tokyo time), 10:00am (London/Cambridge time) Ms Mikwi Cho (Trinity 2017), currently PhD candidate at Trinity College and Cambridge University (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), has very kindly agreed to join us for a zoom discussion on the migration of Koreans to Japan – the subject of her PhD research work, and also to give us a glimpse into her direct personal experience in this field.

  • 6pm (6pm Tokyo time, 10am UK time)- starts
  • 6:15pm – 7:15pm Ms Mikwi Cho
  • 7:15pm – follow-on discussions

Prior registration required until Wednesday 29 June 2022. Anonymous registrations are not accepted, please introduce yourself briefly when you register.

We will upload the recording to the Trinity in Japan Youtube Channel – by participating you agree to the upload of the recording:

Migration of Koreans to the Japanese metropole and living legacy of Japanese colonialism


This talk will cover the migration of Korean people to imperial Japan during Korea’s colonial period (1910-1945) and the social, economic, and political situation of resident Koreans in postwar Japan. In the same way that Japanese people began to settle in Korea from the late 19th century, Korean people began to cross the Korea Strait to imperial Japan for a variety of reasons during the colonial period. When Korea was liberated from the Japanese empire in 1945, there were two million Koreans, primarily in the working class, residing in Japan. Among them, more than 600,000 Koreans permanently remained in Japan and came to be known as zainichi Koreans. While they were deemed ‘legal aliens’ and lost Japanese nationality upon the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951, first-generation zainichi  Koreans also perceived Korea as their homeland and saw Japan as a temporary country of residence. As they struggled to be included in the ‘homogenous‘ country, they chiefly entered the non-manufacturing and service industry as self-employed. Today, the Korean markets in Ueno of Tokyo and Ikuno of Osaka, pachinko parlors, and yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurants are particularly symbolic of zainichi-owned businesses. Moreover, as people on the peninsula were ideologically split due to the division of Korea between the North’s communist system and the South’s capitalist system, so were zainichi Koreans in Japan. This led to the establishment of pro-North and pro-South organizations, where each founded schools for children to learn the language, history, as well as political ideology of their ‘imaginary homeland.’ In addition to my autobiography, this talk will end with suggestions for peacebuilding between the younger generation of zainichi Koreans and the Japanese mainstream population.   

Mikwi Cho (Trinity 2017)

Mikwi Cho is a PhD candidate who examines the migration of Korean people to Japan from 1910-1945. To depart from the overemphasis on Koreans in the labouring class and women who served the Japanese Imperial Army during the colonial period, her study casts a spotlight on overseas students, Christian adherents, and women as a minority within a minority in imperial Japan. In 2019, she published her first article in European Journal of Korean Studies. She will soon publish another work on the migration of Korean overseas students to imperial Japan in an edited volume titled, Competing Imperialism in Northeast Asia: New perspectives, 1894-1953, by Routledge. Upon graduation, she will go to Earlham College as an Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies.

Registration and enquiries:

All Trinity members, Fellows and students globally are very welcome to pre-register, and I will send a registration link if there are still places available.

In “Your message” box please state:

  1. which event(s) you are interested to attend,
  2. your full name, briefly introduce yourself if this is your first time to attend a Trinity in Japan event,
  3. your affiliation with Trinity College Cambridge – Trinity students, PhD students are especially welcome
    • If you are not associated with Trinity College Cambridge, you may still attend as a guest in certain cases – in this case please write a short sentence why you are interested to attend and participate in the discussion,

Thank you – we ask for your understanding that “anonymous” participation (eg name unknown to us, a free email eg hotmail / gmail / yahoo etc) is not possible. We cannot answer “anonymous” requests.

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