One of the greatest misconceptions about anarchism is that it is a exclusively or inherently Western ideology. Not so. Historically, there have been anarchist movements in Latin America and in Asia that were as large as parallel movements in Europe and the Anglosphere. Anarchism is able to travel well because it is often able to connect with the communal, federal, or local practices of many traditional societies.
The Korean anarchist movement wanted to build an independent self-governing anarchist society, a cooperative system of the masses of the Korean people. They wanted to take civilisation from the capitalist class, and return it to the popular classes. By doing so, the capitalist and colonial society that existed in Korea (as elsewhere in Africa and Asia and east Europe) would be replaced with a new society. This new society would be based on the principles of freedom and equality, that guarantee the independent self-rule of the producing classes: the working class and the peasantry.
Who was Kim Joa-Jin, Korean Anarchist Revolutionary?
by Eric Every (Tokologo African Anarchist Collective)
Kim Jao-jin was born in 1889 to a wealthy family. Like many of his generation, his life was shaped by the Japanese imperial government’s colonisation of Korea. This began formally in 1910, but key aspects of Japanese control dated to 1895. The year 1919 saw a massive wave of struggle against colonialism: the March 1st Movement. This was part of a global series of uprisings.
Kim became involved in the Korean Independence Army (KIA). In 1920, he helped lead a famous defeat by the KIA of a Japanese army division at the battle of Ch’ing-Shan. At the same time, he became drawn to anarchism by his relative, Kim Jong-Jin. Anarchism / syndicalism was a very powerful force in the Korean national liberation and popular class struggles. Japanese anarchists worked closely with Korean anarchists: they knew the Japanese ruling class was also their enemy.
In 1925, Kim formed the anarchist group, the “New People’s Society.” Working closely with the Korean Anarchist Federation in Manchuria and the Korean Anarcho-Communist Federation, in 1929 he helped launch (with KIA support) a large anarchist revolutionary zone in Shinmin in Manchuria, in the Korean borderlands. A large Korean population lived here; Japanese imperial power was not as strong as in the Korean peninsula. The zone was run through the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria, also called the “General League of Koreans.”