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A year ago, Songha Cho changed his professional name to plain and simple Songha — explaining that there is no appropriate kanji for Cho, though there is for Songha. That problem, the third-generation Korean-Japanese said, is just one of many complications faced in daily life here by people with Korean ancestry — a situation that leaves many, like him, confused about their identity.

“My father was a newspaper journalist and he loved brass-band music, and my mother was a top-class dancer with the Kumgangsan Opera Troupe, but after I was born they both gave up their artistic dreams to open a restaurant in central Tokyo’s Ueno district. They wanted to be sure of giving me, their only child, a good start in life.

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