This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of the so-called “Korea Wave” in Japan. In the first decade of the new millennium, a number of K-pop stars secured huge, devoted followings in Japan; Korean songs became a staple in Japanese karaoke and Korean dramas were broadcasted nightly on Japanese television. The chapter then sets out the book's three principal arguments. First, it challenges the prevailing historiographical characterization of imperial Japanese attitudes toward Koreans and their culture. The second argument attempts to explain this appeal: colonial access to Korea gave Japanese an opportunity to meditate intensively on their own historical and modern identity. Finally, following accepted anthropological wisdom of recent decades, it is argued that the acts of gazing and being gazed at fundamentally transformed both the observer and the observed. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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