Forming a Korean identity in Japan
Resident Koreans are one of the oldest and largest immigrant groups living in Japan. The origins of this community lie in Japan’s colonization of Korea in the early part of the 20th Century, when many Korean farmers were forced off their land and large numbers of Koreans were brought to Japan to work on construction projects and in the nation’s mines and factories, often against their will. Many “<i>Zainichi</i>” (as this group is called in Japanese) who chose to stay in Japan after World War II have endeavored to maintain their ethnic identity despite large-scale language shift to Japanese. Their main means of maintaining Korean language proficiency is through heritage language immersion programs in schools affiliated with North Korea. This case study examines the way one such school supports Korean language and culture maintenance by examining the role it played in the identity formation of three members of one <i>Zainichi</i> family in Kyoto: the mother, father and their adult son.