Offspring of Empire: The Koch'Ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945

By Carter J. Eckert | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Between Metropole and Hinterland

The Acquisition of Raw Materials and Technology

Fusion with the state was one conspicuous aspect of Korean capitalism during the colonial period. Another no less striking feature was the extreme dependence of Korean capitalism on the larger, more established capitalist firms based in Japan itself, and on the particular imperial socioeconomic structure generated by Japan's military conquests on the Asian continent.

While such dependence manifested itself in economic terms, its underlying cause was essentially political, a logical consequence of Korea's subjugation as a Japanese colony: the Government-General no more contemplated the development of an economically independent Korea than it did the establishment of a politically independent Korean state. 1

The colonial authorities made this point clear as early as 1921, at the industrial commission convoked that year to discuss the broad contours of Korea's development policy for the post-World War I period. Vice-Governor-General Mizuno and Bureau Director Nishimura ( Bureau of Industry) were questioned repeatedly at the conference by delegates from Japan who were concerned about the potential threat that the Government-General's proposed industrial development posed to Japan's own industries and exports. There was no mincing of words.

At the general session on the first day of the conference, one delegate bluntly asked the colonial officials if the new policy was not actually aimed at "rejecting manufactured goods from Japan":

As far as the policy of promoting industry is concerned, I understand almost everything in the policy draft. There is something, however, I think I would like to hear a little [more] about. The policy of [industrial] promotion is centered on the idea of having both raw materials and a production base. This policy seems to take on added importance in view of the forthcoming abolition of duties on imports from Japan. If the raw material and production base

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