The Red Decades: Communism as Movement and Culture in Korea, 1919–1945
- About the Book
Focusing on previously neglected cultural expressions of colonial-period Korean socialism such as Marxist philosophy, Marxist historiography, and travelogues by socialist writers, The Red Decades reveals Marxian socialism as a cultural phenomenon of colonial-age Korea. Providing an account of the social composition of the Communist milieu in 1920s and 1930s Korea and outlining the aims of the colonial-period Communist movement as formulated in programmic documents, this text offers a rich, nuanced description of the microcosm of Korean Communism—a setting of factional alignments, pilgrimages to Moscow, extended stays of the Korean revolutionaries as exiles in China and the Soviet Union, and a polylingual environment with Chinese, Japanese, English, and Russian being equally important as the idioms of socialist propagation and international networking. Placing the endeavors of colonial-age Communists within a global historical context allows for dissections of how Korean socialists' ideals interacted with the realities of the conservative turn taking place in the Soviet Union since the late 1920s, as well as considering the implication of Stalinism for Korean revolutionary culture. Yet this analysis also focuses on the individuals involved, especially on their persistent issue of factionalism in the Korean Communist movement and on the role of underground radicalism in shaping the subaltern subjectivities of the participants.
The Red Decades discusses the world-historical place of “alternative modernity” that colonial-age socialists of Korea were pursuing. Based on a wealth of Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Chinese primary sources, including the Korea-related parts of the archives of Comintern, an under-utilized resource in Anglophone scholarship. The research also accommodates the achievements of the last decades, from South Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Anglophone and Russophone academic worlds. The breadth of this study situates the philosophical, historiographical, and political practices of Marxism of colonial Korea in the global historical perspective and simultaneously explores the long-lasting influences of the Communist movement in post-1945 North and South Korea.
- About the Author(s)
Vladimir Tikhonov, AuthorVladimir Tikhonov is professor of Korean and East Asian studies in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, Oslo University, Norway.