This article explores the theme of diasporic identity as represented in Into the Light (1933), a novel written in the Japanese language by the Korean writer Sa-ryang Kim (1914-1950). The story is set in the days of Japanese imperialism and revolves around the relationship between Minami sensei, a young Korean intellectual studying abroad at the University of Tokyo, and Haruo Yamada, a boy of mixed heritage who was born to a Japanese father and a Korean mother. Like reflections in a mirror, the two figures portray certain contradictions within the empire with their “virtual” identities, which refer to identities borrowed or imagined by the colonized self. While briefly introducing Sa-ryang Kim’s literary achievements, this paper discusses the writings of Koreans during the era of Japanese imperialism. And by delving into the two characters, the paper examines how their identities are defined by Japanese imperialism. Then, as the analysis reveals that the two are complementary figures reflecting each other’s hybrid identity, this study explores how the identity of imperialist diaspora during the colonial period was represented. The protagonist eventually accepts the Korean title Nam sensei together with the Japanese title Minami sensei, and confirms his membership in the colonial diaspora. In contrast, Haruo Yamada identifies his projected self as Japanese, deriding the Korean teacher. This inconsistency is a testament to the wide spectrum of types of identities internalized within the people in “colonial diaspora,” who are, in this case, Koreans who had dispersed outside their colonized homeland and settled in the empire of Japan. The novel demonstrates how the virtual identities held by the members of colonial diaspora are liable to fall apart at any moment.


colonial diaspora, colonized self, diasporic identity, hybrid identity, Japanese imperialism, Korean writers in Japan, virtual identities

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)