Colloquium: Wartime Views on Post-Liberation Korea

photo: Mark CaprioThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­qui­um series will present a look at two influ­en­tial observers’ ideas about Korea’s post-World War II future on Tues­day, March 4, 2014, at 4 p.m. when his­to­ri­an Mark E. Caprio deliv­ers a talk titled “Silent Voic­es: The Wartime Views of George McCune and Andrew Gra­j­danzev for Post-Lib­er­a­tion Korea.”

The fail­ure of the U.S. occu­pa­tion of south­ern Korea (1945 – 1948) is often con­sid­ered a result of a lack of wartime prepa­ra­tion. Poli­cies for the occu­pa­tion are said to have been hasti­ly deter­mined with lit­tle thought of the peninsula’s future. Archival doc­u­ments sug­gest oth­er­wise: U.S. offi­cials gath­ered a sub­stan­tial amount of infor­ma­tion; experts draft­ed a num­ber of use­ful reports that informed broad­er reports on the cir­cum­stances fac­ing the Kore­an penin­su­la and its residents. 

Two such infor­mants, George McCune and Andrew Gra­j­danzev, con­tributed posi­tion papers that proved use­ful for reports designed to assist U.S. occu­pa­tion forces in post-lib­er­a­tion Korea. Opin­ions from these two experts opti­misti­cal­ly saw Korea’s future in pos­i­tive terms and offered advice on how the Allied forces could best guide the peo­ple toward gain­ing nation­al sov­er­eign­ty. Their voic­es, how­ev­er, fell silent from the time of the estab­lish­ment of the U.S. Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment in Seoul in Sep­tem­ber 1945. 

Caprio’s pre­sen­ta­tion will explore the fac­tors that inter­vened to sep­a­rate the opti­mism found in wartime reports and the real­ism that defined U.S. occu­pa­tion pol­i­cy in south­ern Korea. Did the views expressed by McCune and Gra­j­danzev hold answers for a more suc­cess­ful occu­pa­tion? If so, what bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ed their imple­men­ta­tion? And, what con­se­quences did this occu­pa­tion suf­fer from Unit­ed States occu­pa­tion forces not afford­ing them greater attention?

Mark Caprio is pro­fes­sor of Kore­an his­to­ry in the Col­lege of Inter­cul­tur­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Rikkyo Uni­ver­si­ty. The author of Japan­ese Assim­i­la­tion Poli­cies in Colo­nial Korea, 1910 – 1945 (Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Press, 2009), he is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a man­u­script ten­ta­tive­ly titled “Dregs of Colo­nial­ism in Lib­er­at­ed South­ern Korea.”

Caprio’s pre­sen­ta­tion will take place in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies con­fer­ence room from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.