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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 15(2); 2010 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2010;15(2): 69-96.
Colonial Modernity and Rural Markets during the Japanese Colonial Period
Young-ran Hur
Professor, Department of History and Culture, University of Ulsan
울산대학교 역사문화학과 교수
Recent studies on Korean history during the Japanese colonial period have in general focused on ‘colonial modernity’ as their main theme. They have sought to analyze the characteristics of the modernity which Korea experienced, while paying special attention to the fact that while modernity should not be ignored, colonial rule should be perceived as having been a condition that contributed to the formation and reproduction of modernity; and that modernity, which was carried out at the global level, was variously and heteronomously experienced in individual regions. This fresh perception of colonial modernity has helped to bring about a meaningful change in the heretofore nationalism-centered study of the colonial era. Nevertheless, a great number of these analyses of modern elements have tended to concentrate on two spheres: industry and urban areas. To this end, although agriculture and rural areas accounted for a significant majority of industry and the overall population respectively, these elements were not identified as being crucial to the formation of the proper interpretation of colonial modernity. The study of the elements of the traditional lifestyle of farmers that were passed down from generation to generation is indeed a more simple one than the analysis of the new elements that were introduced. However, the rural markets, or changsi, which connected farmers to the external world, clearly exhibit the hybridity that characterized their lives during the colonial era. Colonial capitalism had the effect of worsening the conflicts between capitalists and laborers, as well as between landlords and farmers. However, the necessity to defend the nation against Japan’s dictatorial rule also had the effect of mitigating the inherent hierarchal differences between the various social groups. This hybridity was also reflected in the changsi markets that operated in rural areas. The commercialization of agriculture and the agricultural policy of the Government-General of Chos?n had the effect of further exasperating the already dire situation which farmers faced. The direness of this situation forced many small-scale farmers to try to eke out a living by selling their agricultural wares at lower than market value prices. In this regard, the changsi emerged as the main sphere in which such exchanges designed to ensure farmers’ ability to continue to earn a living were carried out. The expansion of the changsi during the Japanese colonial period was motivated by the following factors. First, under the colonial capitalist structure, farmers needed the changsi, which they could freely enter, to maintain their small-scale farming household economies. Second, the changsi in rural areas functioned as networking markets that effectively connected these rural areas to the global market. The changsi played an important role in terms of the collection and exporting of the agricultural products and raw materials demanded by Japanese capitalism, but also functioned as windows for the distribution and sale of capitalist goods. Third, the changsi was a socio-cultural hybrid space in which Koreans, who were prohibited from participating in politics, could release their pent-up energy. To this end, the changsi conflicts reflected not only the confrontations and fissures that crisscrossed local society, but also the inherent politics of coexistence and alliance. Fourth, the changsi, in their capacity as a basic trading mechanism, served as collective goods which contributed to the activation of local economies. Furthermore, additional local development effects could be expected through the advent of other collective goods, such as financial institutions, agricultural product inspection centers and agricultural product stores, and means of transportation. In this regard, local residents, or simin, sought to attract changsi to their areas as part of efforts to ensure local development and reap the benefits of such development. This can be regarded as one of the key reasons for the expansion of the changsi during the Japanese colonial era. The changsi conflicts over public goods that emerged during the 1920s -1930s nevertheless exhibited various attributes generally associated with conflicts between the power group and local society. While these conflicts were ostensibly not related to the refusal of the colonial authority’s control and regulations, one can nevertheless imagine ‘local society’ as a social space in which competition with the colonial power was made possible by the fact that the unilateral leadership of the colonial authority proved unable to penetrate this particular space. In addition, the hybridity created through the combination of traditional communality, reciprocity, equality, local chauvinism, desire for development/improvement, and the pursuit of capital gains, can be regarded as a reflection of the impact of colonial modernity on rural markets.
Keywords: colonial modernity, modernity, rural markets, changsi, fiveday market, changsi conflicts, collective goods, simin (citizens)

일제시기 한국사에 대한 최근 연구는 공통적으로 ‘식민지 근대’를 화두로 삼고 있다. 식민지배는 근대성을 배제하는 것이 아니라 근대성이 형성되고 재생산되는 하나의 조건이라는 점, 전지구적으로 진행된 근대가 각 지역에 따라 매우 다양하고 이질적으로 경험되었다는 점에 주목하면서, 한국이 경험한 근대생의 성격을 해명하고자 하는 것이다. 식민지 근대에 대한 재인식이 민족주의 일색의 식민지 연구에 의미 있는 전환을 가져왔지만, 근대적 양상에 대한 다양한 검토는 주로 공업과 도시라는 두 차원에 집중되었다. 농업과 농촌은 산업구성이나 안구구성에서 지배적 비중을 차지하고 있었음에도 불구하고, 식민지 근대의 해명이라는 문제의식에서 뚜렷한 위치를 설정하지 못했다. 새로움 보다는 이전 시대와의 연속성이 두드러지는 농민의 존재양식을 여러 각도에서 검토할 수 있겠지만, 그들을 외부와 연결시키는 농촌시장, 즉 장시는 그 존재의 혼성성을 잘 보여준다. 식민지 자본주의는 자본가와 노동자, 지주와 농민의 계급적 갈들을 심화시켰지만, 일제의 위압적인 지배에 대한 방어의 필요성은 사회세력의 계급적ㆍ계층적 분화를 억제시켰다. 그러한 조건이 야기한 혼성성은 농촌시장인 장시에 그대로 반영되었다. 농업의 상업화와 조선총독부의 식민지 농정은 농민의 궁핍을 심화시켰다. 영세농민들은 생계유지를 위해 농산물의 궁박판매로 내몰렸다. 그러한 생계유지형 교환이 이루어지는 곳이 바로 장시였다. 일제시기에 장시가 확산된 이유를 정리해보면 다음과 같다. 첫째, 식민지 자본주의 하에서 영세한 농가경제를 유지하기 위해 농민들은 진입이 자유로운 농촌시장, 즉 장시를 필요로 했다. 둘째 농촌 장시는 식민지 상품유통체제에 유연하게 적응하여, 농가와 농민, 농촌촌락을 세계시장과 연결하는 네트워크 시장으로서 기능했다. 장시는 일본자본주의가 요구하는 농산물과 원료 등을 수집, 배출하는 기능과 자본주의적 상품을 배급, 판매하는 통로이기도 했다. 셋째, 장시는 정치를 금지당한 한국인들의 에너지를 사회문화적인 형태로 표출하는 공간이었다. 장시갈등에는 지역사회를 종횡하는 대립과 균열, 연대와 공존의 정치성이 반영되어 있다. 넷째, 장시는 그 자체가 기초적인 교역기구로서 지역 경제를 활성화하는 데 기여하는 집합재(collective goods)였으며, 교통기관, 관공서 등 관련 시설의 집중을 유도하여 추가적인 지역개발 효과를 가능하도록 만드는 매개체였다. 따라서 시민 등 지역주민들은 지역발전과 그에 따른 이익을 확보하기 위해 장시 유치에 힘썼고, 그것이 일제시기에 나타난 장시 확산의 한 가지 요인이 되었다. 1920~30년대에 확인되는 장시갈등은 공공재를 둘러싼 권력과 지역사회의 다양한 갈등 양상을 보여준다. 그것이 식민당국의 힘을 거스를 정도는 아니더라도, 권력과의 경합이 이루어지는 사회적 공간의 존재 가능성을 암시한다. 그것을 통해 식민권력의 일방적인 독주가 관철되는 것만은 아닌 ‘지역사회’를 상정해 볼 수 있다. 그리고 이렇게 장시갈등을 통해 확인되는 것, 즉 전통적인 공동체성, 호혜주의, 평등주의, 지역이기주의, 개발/발전에의 욕망, 시장적 이익의 추구가 결합된 혼성성이야말로 농촌시장에 투영된 식민지 근대성이라고 할 수 있을 것이다.
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