Stateless for the Chosen ones

Despite living in the land of the rising sun for generations, many Koreans in Japan still long for home in a unified Korea. Mr Hong Hwang In, whose parents naturalised the family as Japanese years ago, says he feels conflicted about his identity.
A zainichi Korean’s document from 1949. Zainichi Koreans were initially made to register as nationals of Chosen, the Japanese name for the old, undivided Korea.
A zainichi Korean’s document from 1949. Zainichi Koreans were initially made to register as nationals of Chosen, the Japanese name for the old, undivided Korea. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHONG YOUNG HWAN
A zainichi Korean's document from 1949. Zainichi Koreans were initially made to register as nationals of Chosen, the Japanese name for the old, undivided Korea.
MS KIM SU SIL

The Trump-Kim summit drew Singaporeans' eyes to Korea, but the legacy of the wars that shaped it lives on beyond the Korean peninsula. In this feature, The Straits Times investigates "another" Korea - that of Japan, where 480,000 Koreans and their descendants live, the result of Japan's 35-year colonisation. Despite decades of assimilation, they are still treated as outsiders by the Japanese. Indeed, many Koreans in Japan still dream of a reunified Korea - and of perhaps returning to a home they have never been to.

TOKYO • Ms Kim Su Sil, 21, had planned to study outside Japan last year and applied for a visa to Britain, a land she had long wanted to visit because of her interest in the English language.

But her application was rejected due to her nationality - or perceived lack thereof.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'Stateless for the Chosen ones'. Print Edition | Subscribe