Colonial subjects caught up supporting colonialism have often been seen as either engaging in an encounter of ambivalence or seen as traitors in post-independence nationalist historiography. Rather than following this established binary of possible subject positions, this article considers the unique biography of a filmmaker known in Indonesia as Dr Huyung. Prior work on Dr Huyung has either considered the pre and post 1945 stages of his life in isolation thus making incomplete assessments of his life and contributions. By bringing these two periods into conversation, a complete biography enables a more complex idea of colonial subjectivity to emerge. Huyung's life provides an alternative history of colonialism and an entry point in which to interrogate the limits and opportunities available in Asia of the 1930s to 1950s.
This article traces the life of Dr Huyung from his birth in Korea as Hoe Yong, his life under Japanese occupation when he became Hinatsu Eitaro and moved to Japan to study film, to Indonesia as a Japanese propaganda officer, and finally to a new identity as Dr Huyung in independent Indonesia. As a trans-national subject operating across multiple subject positions – including colonial subject, colonial agent, and supporter of independence – this article challenges how subjectivity is thought about under colonialism and the historiography of national cinema in Indonesia, and contributes to understand his role in helping define and shape arts and culture in post-colonial Indonesia.