Imagining a Controversy: The Taft-Katsura Memorandum in Korean History Comic Books
Seeley, Joseph; Larsen, Kirk
For generations of North and South Koreans, the 1905 Taft-Katsura Memorandum or "secret treaty" has been emblematic of the U.S. decision to support the Japanese annexation of Korea around the turn of the twentieth century. Although scholars of early Korean-US relations consistently point out that Taft never called the Memorandum anything more than his "personal opinion," these academic objections have had little impact on how the Memorandum has been remembered by generations of Koreans. By distilling complex historical nuance into concise, visually appealing vignettes, comic book histories of the Taft-Katsura Memorandum in both North and South Korea seem to exert far more influence on how the event is remembered and understood than do scholarly articles, illustrating the tension between actuality and popular memory.