Colonial Modernity and the Making of Mokpo as a Dual City
(Vol.48. No.3 Autumn, 2008 pp.104~132)
Park Chan Seung
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Colonial modernity refers to a particular articulation of the universal notion of modernity in the colonial context. Colonial modernity is best seen in the cities of a colony, in particular, colonial cities where nationals of the imperial country migrate and settle down. Mokpo used to be a small fishing village, but upon its opening in 1897 it began to rapidly grow into an important port city through which rice and cotton produced in the Honam region were transported to Japan. After 1910, Mokpo developed into the biggest commercial and industrial city in the region. However, Korean and Japanese residential areas in Mokpo were segregated into the South and North Villages with Mt. Yudal serving as the border. The two villages differed significantly in terms of their infrastructure, including roads, houses, water supply and drainage, street lamps, garbage disposal, to hospitals. Korean members of the Mokpo City Council frequently demanded improvements to the poor public facilities for the native residents, only to be rejected by the Japanese city authorities. The city authorities were generally indifferent to the poor conditions in the Korean areas, and were deliberately so to some extent. Japanese colonizers in Korea attempted to underscore the modernity they brought with them by maintaining wide gaps in living conditions between Japanese and Korean residential areas in cities such as Mokpo, where many Japanese lived. Imperial powers built dual cities in their colonies to that end; Mokpo was a model of them.
Keywords: Mokpo, colonial modernity, dual city, Japanese colonizers
Types: Articles
Subject: History
About the author(s) Park Chan Seung is Professor of Korean istory at Hanyang University. He received his Ph.D. from Seoul National University in 1990 and has served as an Editorial Board member of the Korea Journal since 2007. E-mail: