Hoover Student Fellow’s Research On Propaganda Of Japan In The Late Nineteenth Century

Tuesday, September 7, 2021
nishiki-e triptych woodblock print depicting the Japanese soldiers fighting against the Korean soldiers in defense of the Japanese legation
Image credit: 
"朝鮮事件記 Chōsen jikenki" (Record of the Korean Incident), Japanese woodblock print collection, Hoover Institution Library & Archives, https://n2t.net/ark:/54723/h3ms5t

Chaeri Park is a first-year master’s student studying international policy at Stanford, with a concentration in cyber policy and security. She is especially passionate about disinformation, propaganda, intersections between the public and private sectors, and national security. As a Fulbright scholar and foreign service officer, she is interested in connecting with people from different fields and various cultural backgrounds. Prior to coming to Stanford, part of her work involved defense and security cooperation between Korea and Japan. She also spent some time in Japan and served as a second secretary in the Korean embassy in Tokyo, responsible for public diplomacy. Park participated in the Hoover Student Fellowship program under the mentorship of Dr. Kaoru (Kay) Ueda, curator of the Japanese Diaspora Collection. Portions of her work will be included in the Fanning the Flames exhibition, which opens in the fall of 2021. Chaeri’s full report is now available in the Stanford Digital Repository.

By Chaeri Park

There are various sources of information that form the framework of prejudice. In my opinion, information one receives can be biased due to differences in personal background, experience, and surroundings. Coming from Korea, a country where relations with Japan are exceptional, my opinions regarding Japan were biased in some ways. While these opinions may be true, my judgment was formed based on what I saw and heard and not on solid evidence. My prejudices were established before I went through all the data comprehensively. In my research for this project, it was interesting to find evidence that either confirmed or countered my beliefs and that sometimes even changed my opinions. Throughout my work with the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, I looked for hidden intentions behind the Japanese nishiki-e in relation to propagandist perspectives that disseminated certain messages in the late nineteenth century, focusing on two incidents in Korea: the Imo Incident and the Asan Battle.

During my work, I spent most of my time studying woodblock prints from the nineteenth century related to Japanese propaganda. Prints capture a moment in time that the artists aim to convey, so even if the print has not visually modified the general truth of the scene, the viewpoint and the moment that the print captures may have embedded prejudices. Thus, it would benefit the viewer to understand the overall context and see the pieces from the past without preconceptions. Also, I came to understand that it is easier to raise an argument than to back up the opinion with solid evidence. Moreover, I unintentionally found myself looking for supporting evidence that fits my argument rather than looking at evidence to form an opinion. The experience at the Hoover Library & Archives helped me to learn different perspectives and methods in order to understand the history itself, lessons I would not have encountered were it not for this wonderful experience.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hoover Student Fellowship Program started and ended virtually. I could not meet my mentor in person. However, I spent forty-five minutes to two hours every week on videoconferencing meetings, sharing opinions and discussing my work. The pandemic limited my access to archives and documents, but even for these limitations Dr. Kay Ueda was always responsive to my questions and introduced me to various sources to help me refine my research. Thanks to my mentor Dr. Ueda, my research experiences exploring diverse resources across borders online at Hoover Institution Library & Archives turned out to be very meaningful and fruitful.

 

About the Hoover Student Fellowship Program

 

The Hoover Student Fellowship Program offers Stanford students a unique opportunity to engage in important work at the Hoover Institution across research and organizational areas. The fellowship is a paid internship in which students are paired in topical areas of their preference with Hoover fellows or staff members. Students in the fellowship provide research and operational support, while also benefiting from mentoring and partaking in enriching programming for the fellowship cohort. The Hoover Institution Library & Archives is proud to mentor students in the fellowship.