Weeks 3 and 4 Discussion Posts

Week 3

Why do you think that both Liang Qichao and He Zhen developed their politics on China while they were away from the country? Why do you think their views on nationalism diverged, even though they were reading many of the same texts and thinking about similar questions about the modern world and China’s place in it?

While abroad one is given the opportunity to take a step back and view their home from a new perspective. Zhen learned while away that the problems of China existed elsewhere as well, and was able to compare and contrast societies to search for ways to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, Liang Qichao found an importance in one’s dedication to their community and nation through his recognition of the struggles of those living in Honolulu’s Chinatown. I think the difference in Zhen and Liang’s approaches are due to the issues they focused on. Zhen recognized the mistreatment of women and other disadvantaged groups of peoples as the primary problem of China. Because of this, she focused on the disparities between peoples throughout China’s history, and compared it to the problems of 20th century Tokyo. This pushed her to believe capitalism as the primary cause and reinforcer of the gap between minorities. Her solution involved rebellion and a socialist or communist society, in order to rework the issues reinforced by the system in place.

Have you experienced something similar, where travel, or moving away shifted your self-identification?

In the summer of my senior year in high school I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Japan with my brother. There I met many people from around the world, because the school I attended was for other abroad students like me. At first I went into most exchanges expecting to be very different politically from those I spoke with. However, I was quickly surprised by how much I had in common with people from places entire nations away. I had a realization of globalization, and this idea that each place has its own struggles and that maybe it is more realistic to work together to solve them than I had previously thought. When I returned from Japan I found the minor issues that many people focused on in my hometown in Silicon Valley sort of trivial, and felt that a lot of people tended to emphasize the differences between people rather than the similarities.

Week 4

What do you think prompted so many Koreans into direct action against Japanese colonial rule? How much of it do you think was the language of the March 1, 1919 Declaration of Independence, and how much were other factors that Shin mentions? Answer this question by thinking about what might prompt you into actions at some moments and not at others.

I think that many Koreans were tired of being oppressed by the Japanese, and were looking for a way to fight back. So when the nationalist leaders began reading the Declaration of Independence on March 1st, 1919, they saw this as an opportunity to protest. While I do not think that the language of the March 1, 1919 Declaration of Independence had too much influence over the situation, I do believe there were two things it did which effectively initiated the protests. Firstly, the first few lines were important to the movement, as they declared the intentions of the uprising: “We hereby declare that Korea is an independent state and that Koreans are a self-governing people” (Han‐Kyo
Kim, p. 1). Because these were the first few things heard by the listening people of Korea, it clearly announced an initiation of the people. The second thing is more subtle, and lies in the line “We make this declaration on the strength of five thousand years of history as an expression of the devotion and loyalty of twenty million people” (Han‐Kyo Kim, p. 1). The important part of this line is the inclusion of “twenty million people”. This not only calls upon the people of Korea for help, but also reaffirms their numbers, reminding people that they are together and have many allies. While I do think the language was effective to some extent however, I still believe that what pushed people to act the most was a collective dissatisfaction with the conditions under which the general public lived by.

Have you ever felt compelled to act in ways that surprised you?

While I am sure that to some minor extent I have been prompted to take action on some matters in the past, I have never been prompted to take action in something as large scale as the movement in 1919 Korea. I think it would be pretty difficult to persuade me to take extreme action unless I was being forced to or it involved a loved one, as I usually avoid conflicts as a whole.