Rodney, you bring up some interesting topics in your post connected to identity.
For you, it seems depending on the generation one belongs to determines one’s identity and that identity is strictly tied to a nation-state. However, I think this is a bit overly simplistic. For one thing, cultural practices which influence our identities can transcend national boundaries and do occur over generations. The significance of this is that being born in a specific geographic area and within a certain generation does not necessarily preclude one from belonging to a specific culture/ having a specific identity. In other words, just because she is third generation doesn’t mean she is not Korean. It is possible to be Korean and Japanese (and have even more identities).
Next, you drew a comparison between Australian convicts and Ku’s situation. Again, this comparison seems facile. For one thing, Australians didn’t face persecution based on their ethnicity. Nor were they segregated to specific areas with Australia because of their ethnicity. As this article mentions, Ku grew up in an ethnically Korean neighborhood. There have also been many noted incidents of ethnic-based attacked on Koreans in Japan including the arson attack discussed in the article.
One way identity is understood is via avowed and ascribed identity. Avowed identities are those an individual takes on while ascribed are those given to an individual by others. Sometimes they overlap. In this case, Ku’s avowed identity is Korean. For Ku (and many others) this identity is not tied to the geographic nation-state but rather the cultural practices including language. While you don’t seem to ascribe this identity to Ku, some people in Ku’s life have ascribed this identity to her. In the story where the man pulled on her hair, he clearly identified her as Korean.
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