In this book I have tried to narrate a history of the search for work and to
document some of the most pervasive, repetitive, and entrenched contingen-
cies of this search experienced by Korean workers in Japan during the inter-
war period. I wanted to show how many of the most urgent political and social
movements by Korean workers in Japan were formed against and in reaction
to these contingencies. But I also wanted to reveal the historical emergence
of lines of fragmentation within Korean surplus populations, lines that fell
across institutionalized borders and regulations in the labor markets, across
ambiguous tenant-landlord and labor boss-worker relations, and across
the divides between the so-called employed population and the so-called  un-
employed population. Most importantly, I wanted to bring to light the spe-
ciÞc nature of Korean-led protests and strikes in Japan, and to emphasize
that, while the conditions surrounding their struggles were often unique to
Koreans, especially in regard to the problem of racism, they also revealed
common problems that all workers inevitably must confront  —namely, the
unavoidable contingencies inherent in the process of commodifying labor
power. The problem here, however, is that state apparatuses tried in all kinds
of ways to disavow this common ground, for example, by blaming various
problems on Koreans themselves (as if unemployment was a problem of in-
nate Korean laziness), or else by individualizing the process of commodiÞca-
tion to such a degree that the shared experience between workers was lost
amidst bureaucratic red tape. In short, state apparatuses tried to disavow the
commonness between Korean and Japanese workers through individuating
tactics, divide and conquer strategies, and through eÂorts to essentially cre-
ate  competition between Korean and Japanese workers, as well as among Ko-
rean workers themselves.
Perhaps the most important discovery that I made by going through vari-
ous archival materials is the extent to which Korean workers were continually
funneled into the day labor market. It is as if all of the long detours on the
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