Richard Kims Lost Name - Essay Example

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An essay "Richard Kim’s Lost Name" reports that the boy wonders whether the emperor even knows that the children are bowing to him. Korean echoes the boy’s worries about the changes he sees. The Koreans are confused about the new set of practices the Japanese authorities subject them to…
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Richard Kim’s Lost Name
Japan’s colonization of Korea resulted in the transformation of their culture. They were given new names. By giving them new names, the Koreans literally lost their identity. All over a sudden, it was as if a new culture, a culture they were alien to, was being imposed on them. The Japanese imposed practices such as bowing of heads to acknowledge authority of the Japanese emperor. At school, the boy learns this routine of bowing down, facing Tokyo, where the emperor is supposed to be (Kim, 45).
In Richard Kim’s, Lost Name, the boy wonders whether the emperor even knows that the children are bowing for him. Korean echoes the boy’s worries about the changes he sees at school. The Koreans are confused about the new set of practices the Japanese authorities subject them to. Their only option is to subject to their masters. The Koreans were forced to renounce their names. Instead, they took up new Japanese names. This is something that does not go well with the Korean people. They have a feeling that the ancestors must be angry about the change of names. They must be angry that the colonizers are stealing their cultural identity. At one point, the narrator’s father takes the young boy to the cemetery so that they can ask the ancestors to forgive them for humiliation- the dropping of the ancestral names (Kim, 6).
The Koreans underwent tough and painful times under the Japanese rule. Colonization led to the loss of cultural heritage among the Korean people. Their nationality was destroyed-a painful experience that they must live with. The boy, in Lost Name, says, "my new name, my old name, my true name, my not-true name?" (Kim, 57). This quote illustrates the confusion that the Koreans have after their colonial masters change their names.
The colonization also came with civility. The Koreans were required to attend school; they improved infrastructure; Korea became more industrialized; urban centers grew and economy improved. These are the positive aspects of the colonization. Political analysts argue that, despite the high handedness and brutality used by the colonizers on the Koreans, Korea became financial stable and prosperous than it was some decades back (Kim, 89).
The Koreans responded by minor protests but these were thwarted by the Japanese military who crushed any dissidents. Most of them failed to adopt their new names; instead preferring their ancestral names. They considered their culture superior to any other. They fought to protect their cultural heritage and regain their lost pride. They opposed the practices such as bowing their heads down. This line from the book expresses their displeasure: "...neither angry nor ennobled-just a little sad, though without knowing why"(Kim, 86). They loathed with passion anyone who worked with or for the foreigners. This is justified in the line,” Look, you, too, are working for foreigners, as their hound" (Kim, 6).
The Koreans longed for the day they will be free; the day when all the tribulations will end and they will reclaim their dignity, their land and cultural heritage. They fought hard-each one of them-to have their land back. Eventually, the Koreans regained their independence, a culmination of war, talks and international intervention. They organized strikes at work and protested in the streets. They opposed the military and called any Korean who volunteered to work for the military service a “hound” (Kim, 6).
Works Cited
Kim, Richard E. Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. , 1998. Print.
Kim, Richard E. Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Print.
Kim, Richard E. Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. London: Deutsch, 1971. Print.
Kim, Richard E. Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. New York: Praeger, 1970. Print. Read More
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