“Awakening Asia”: Korean Student Activists in Japan, "The Asia Kunglun," and Asian Solidarity, 1910-1923

Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus, Goethe University Frankfurt
18th-century map of Asia with its principal divisions, by Jean Palairet (1697-1774). Source: Library of Congress.
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Abstract

The contributions of Korean and Taiwanese authors to the many and varied formulations of interwar pan-Asianism have so far remained a relatively unexplored subject of scholarly research, despite an unbroken interest in the trajectory of state-based Japanese pan-Asianism. Focusing on Korean students and independence activists, this article discusses alternative configurations of regional unity and solidarity that emanated from the interactions among Korean, Taiwanese, and other Asian actors who resided in Tokyo during the 1910s and 1920s. When the ethnic-nationalist interpretations of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination failed to materialize, a portion of anti-colonial activists in Asia began to emphasize the need for solidarity by drawing on what they perceived as traditional and shared “Asian” values. While challenging the Western-dominated international order of nation-states that perpetuated imperialism, such notions of Asian solidarity at the same time served as an ideology of liberation from Japanese imperialism. Examining journals published by Korean students and activists, including The Asia Kunglun, this article adds another layer to the history of pan-Asianism from below, a perspective that has often been neglected within the larger context of scholarship on pan-Asianism and Japanese imperialism in Asia.

Keywords: pan-Asianism, Korean independence movement, Taiwanese activism, self-determination, Japanese imperialism, anti-colonialism, The Asia Kunglun, Taishō liberalism