HURIGHTS OSAKA organized, in cooperation with the Kobe Student Youth Center, a study tour to Jeju island in South Korea from 25 to 29 August 2009 to learn about its history of "migration."
Jeju island is southwest off the Korean peninsula. Jeju island has close historical ties with Osaka where the biggest community of Korean residents in Japan is found. Koreans had been migrating to Osaka since the start of the Japanese colonial period in the early 20th century. Majority of them came from Jeju island partly because of the availability of regular shipping service between Jeju island and Osaka at that time. There are historical records that show that one-fourth of the Jeju population migrated to Japan, particularly to Osaka, to work in factories and other jobs during the colonial period.
The thirty-member study group consisted of NGO activists, academics, students, concerned citizens, and Korean residents in Osaka whose grandparents came to Japan during the Japanese colonial rule.
The group visited a women divers museum, the Jeju April 3 Peace Park, the Jeju Peace Museum, the former Japanese military facilities (including the underground strongholds and airport), and the Jeju Immigrant Center, a non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with the Jeju Migrant Peace Community.
The Haenyeo Museum has many exhibits on the lives of Jeju women divers. Haenyeo is the Korean word for the women who gather marine products by diving more than ten meters deep into the sea. The hard life of these women divers symbolized Jeju island. They migrated to other parts of Korea and to foreign countries (especially to Japan) diving for marine products and their income supported the island's economy. There are also records showing their involvement in the anti-Japanese movement in the 1930s.
At the Jeju Immigrant Center, the group met and talked with the Director, Mr. Kim Jeong Woo, and staff members of various nationalities. The Center provides migrants (both migrants married to Koreans and migrant workers) from China, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, etc, with consultation service, Korean language and culture classes, and emergency shelter.
The group learned that the Jeju Immigrant Center fulfils its aim of making the foreign migrants live together with the Koreans by protecting and promoting their rights through exchange of information and views on the issue.
The Jeju island study tour was the third and final stage of the Korean study tour project of HURIGHTS OSAKA.
Nobuki Fujimoto is a staff of HURIGHTS OSAKA.
For further information, please contact: HURIGHTS OSAKA, PiaNPO, 3F, 2-8-24 Chikko Minato-ku, Osaka 552-0021 Japan; ph (816) 6577-35-78; fax (816) 6577-35-83; e- mail:webmail [a] hurights.or.jp; www.hurights.or.jp
1. Migration in the context of Jeju island refers to both voluntary and "forced" migrations. Voluntary migration covers both the colonial-era movement of people from Jeju Island to Japan to find work at their own initiative, and the more recent movement of people from other countries (particularly Southeast Asian countries and China) to work in Jeju island. Forced migration on the other hand refers to the compulsory deployment of Korean workers by the Japanese colonial government during the latter part of the second world war. This latter type of migration, however, remains a debatable point among Japanese historians.
2. A summary of the final report of the Korean National Committee for Investigation of the Truth about the Jeju April 3 Incident (available in www.jeju43.go.kr/english/sub05.html) states that the "Jeju April 3 Incident was a series of events in which thousands of islanders were killed as a result of clashes between armed civilian groups and government forces. It took place over the period from March 1, 1947, when the National Police opened fire on protesters, and April 3, 1948, when members of the Jeju branch of the South Korean Labor Party began an uprising to protest against oppression by the National Police and the Northwest Youth and against the South Korean government, until September 21, 1954 when closed areas of the Halla mountain were opened to the public." Then President Roh Tae-woo apologized to the Jeju people for the unfortunate incident.
3. For information on the previous study tours see "2008 Study Tour to South Korea" (www.hurights.or.jp/asia-pacific/053/04.html) and "Korea-Japan Symposiums on "International Marriage" and "Female Migrant Workers"" (www.hurights.or.jp/asia-pacific/050/08.html) in this publication.