TV drama highlights life of female Japanese anarchist

Posted on : 2006-08-23 10:51 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Joined with Korean resistance movement during colonial period

Korean television viewers will have the chance to watch a drama highlighting the life of Kaneko Fumiko, a Japanese female resistance fighter and anarchist who planned an assassination attempt on Hirohito, then the crown prince, in September 1923. KBS Special, a KBS-I TV program, will air the two-part drama, titled simply "Kaneko Fumiko" at 8 p.m. on Aug. 26-27 to mark the 61st anniversary of Korean liberation from Japanese rule.

Kaneko Fumiko, a lover of fellow anarchist Park Yol, a fellow Korean independence activist, was one of few Japanese citizens who betrayed her homeland and sided with the Korean independence movement during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Progressives in Japan and Korea have long studied Kaneko’s life. Her political activism came to an end when she was arrested for the assassination attempt on Hirohito, which was plotted with Park Yol. The Japanese judiciary protracted her trial for three years; during the trial, Kaneko and Park justified their assassination attempt instead of trying to make excuses, which often turned the courtroom into a verbal battleground.

The court sentenced Kaneko and Park to death in March 1926 but, apparently bowing to diplomatic criticism from neighboring nations, Japan reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.

Kaneko allegedly strangled herself three months later, though whether she really committed suicide still remains a mystery.

A photo discovered after two years after the arrest of Kaneko and Park also raised questions. In the photo, the two are seen sitting affectionately next to one another in a prison cell. The photo was published in Japanese newspapers at the time, but the Japanese judiciary has never clarified the details surrounding the picture’s origins. Speculation still abounds regarding why the two were pictured together in the cell. Some say it was just a publicity photo, whereas others surmise that they were actually allowed to remain in the same cell as a concession from the judiciary in order to urge them to reveal secrets about the resistance movement.

Kaneko, who had an unstable childhood due to her parents’ repeated divorce and remarriage, was sold to a paternal relative’s house in Korea in 1912 when she turned nine. While living there for eight years, she witnessed the March 1 independence movement. Kaneko became a socialist armed with the spirit of resistance and a will to help the repressed. It was natural that she became associated with Park Yol, and together they waged a struggle to effect a proletarian revolution against the Japanese imperial government.

In writing the script, KBS referred to Kaneko’s biography, written by Yamada Shoji. KBS reporters went to Japan to investigate the mystery of her death as well as the circumstances surrounding the photo, but the Japanese judiciary would not divulge trial records, nor her will.

Regarding the inspiration for making the drama, production team member Yu Dong-jong said, "I wanted to examine Japanese anarchism and the imperial system, a symbol of Japanese militarism."