Why do lots of zainichi Korean-Japanese have North Korean passports?

As soon as the Japanese were properly in charge again after WWII, they made all Korean descendants in Japan choose either North Korean or South Korean nationality, with a perhaps surprising number opting for the former.

Most people seem to assume that it’s because their families came from the North, but in fact people didn’t have to provide any justification for their choices and the most common place for people to have come from was Jeju Island in the very South of South Korea. Instead, it was most often an ideological choice. Kim Il Sung was someone who had actually stood up to the Japanese during the colonial period (unlike the collaborator ruling class in the South), the left wing politics appealed to the usually poor and downtrodden “zainichi” Japanese, and actually North Korea could at least hold its own in terms of economics etc when compared to South Korea at that time.

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1 Comment

  1. alexcase said,

    June 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I also recently read that anyone who didn’t choose was given North Korean nationality, though the source was a newspaper, which tend to be dodgy when it comes to history.


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