The Politics of 'Illicitly Brewed Liquor' in Colonial Korea


Friday, December 11, 2009, 1:00pm


Yenching Common Room, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, United States

Harvard-Yenching Institute Talk - Co-sponsored by the Korea Institute

People Involved:
Itagaki Ryuta, Harvard-Yenching Visiting Scholar, Doshisha University (Japan)
Discussant: Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University
Additional Sponsors: Min Young-Chul Memorial Fund

Talk Abstract
Home-brewing was not generally illegal in the era of the Chosǒn Dynasty. However, home-brewing had been prohibited after the enactment of alcohol beverage tax under the Japanese Empire. At the same time, the new breweries managed by the new local elites grew quickly during the 1910s and 1920s, and became one of the main industries in local society. However, peasants could not stop home-brewing immediately because liquor was not just a luxury drink, but was a kind of nourishment, an essential element for ancestor worship, and in a word, a part of everyday life. On the other hand, revenue from alcohol beverage tax was so large that the colonial government was eager to keep control over ‘illicit’ home-brewing. Consequently, “illicitly brewing” became an important arena of politics among Korean people, local capital, and colonial government.