Striving for the Impossible: The Decline of the Korean Independence Movement in the United States in the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1945

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Striving for the Impossible: The Decline of the Korean Independence Movement in the United States in the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1945

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Title: Striving for the Impossible: The Decline of the Korean Independence Movement in the United States in the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1945
Author: Hwang, Jinny
Advisor: Smith, Paul Jacov
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: Since the Korean declaration of independence from Japanese colonial rule on March 1, 1919, Korean independence activists in the United States have lobbied for the diplomatic recognition of the Korean Provisional Government. Their efforts were continuously hampered throughout the years, as the American government sought to protect its own interests and internal strife crippled the network of Korean nationalist organizations, leaving many activists embittered by repeated failure. Yet the mood changed to that of optimism in 1941, immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the American declaration of war on Japan. The once seemingly Sisyphean task of securing Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule was now in the realm of possibility for the reinvigorated Korean nationalists. Through the evaluation of primary evidence, I examine four themes that characterized the independence activities during the years 1941 to 1945, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. First, I review the strategies and aims of the nationalists during this period in addition to identifying the key leaders in the movement. Nationalists rallied under the goal of unification through establishing the umbrella coalition known as the United Korean Committee. However, unification revealed itself to be a pipe dream as the disputes and complications that had beset the movement in the decades before afflicted this period as well. This segues into second theme I address: that the failure of unification during this period can be attributed to regional and irreconcilable ideological differences. Next, I analyze the American government's response to the movement, and conclude how the government limited the scope of the movement's success through its vague response and self-interest. Finally, I study the environment in which the Korean community in America engaged in the independence activities, noting the anti-Japanese hostility that also affected Korean and the generational gap. I also see an unintended outcome of the independence activities, where the Korean community's presence has been felt in American society. In the end, I hope to have contributed to a holistic overview of this topic, by presenting the four themes through examining primary evidence. By no means does my thesis cover all the factors involved in this topic; however, I hope to have provided a thematic framework for discussion in future studies.
Subject: Korean Americans -- History -- 20th century
Subject: Korean Americans -- Politics and government
Subject: Korean resistance movements, 1905-1945
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/5063

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Citation

Hwang, Jinny. "Striving for the Impossible: The Decline of the Korean Independence Movement in the United States in the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1945". 2010. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/5063.

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/