Japanese occupation of Korea

조선 (朝鮮)
朝鮮 (ちょうせん)
Korea under Japanese Rule
Annexed dependency of Empire of Japan

1910 – 1945
 

Flag of the Japanese Empire

Anthem
Kimi ga Yoa
Enlarge picture
Location of Korea
Korea under Japanese Occupation
CapitalKeijo
Language(s)Korean, Japanese
ReligionShintoisma
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy Korea, 1910]]|Colony }}
Emperor of Japan
 - 1910–1912Emperor Meiji
 - 1912–1925Emperor Taisho
 - 1925–1945Emperor Showa
Governor-General of Korea
 - 1910–1916Masatake Terauchi
 - 1916–1919Yoshimichi Hasegawa
 - 1919–1927Makoto Saito
 - 1927Kazushige Ugaki
 - 1927–1929Hanzo Yamanashi
LegislatureAdvisory Assembly
 - Assembly of CouncilorsChūsūin
(Korean: Jungchuwon)
Historical eraJapanese Empire
 - Eulsa TreatyNovember 18 1905
 - Japan-Korea AnnexationAugust 22 1910
 - March 1st MovementMarch 1 1919
 - Battle of ChingshanliSeptember 11 1920
 - Shanghai bombing attackApril 29 1932
 - Sōshi-kaimei1940–1945
 - End of World War IIAugust 15 1945
 - Division of Korea1945
CurrencyKorean yen
astate religion during this period


Korea under Japanese rule was the period when Korea was a part of the Japanese Empire from 1910 to 1945. Japan's involvement began with the 1876 Treaty of Ganghwa during the Joseon Dynasty of Korea and increased with the subsequent assassination of Empress Myeongseong at the hands of Japanese agents in 1895. It culminated with the 1905 Eulsa Treaty and the 1910 Annexation Treaty, both of which were eventually declared "null and void" by both Japan and South Korea in 1965. In this period, although Japan built modern road and communications networks, life for ordinary Koreans was harsh.[1]

Japanese control of Korea ended with the surrender of Japan to the Allied forces in 1945 at the end of World War II. The Korean Peninsula was subsequently divided into North and South Koreas. The legacy of the occupation remains in continuing disputes between Japan and the two Koreas.

In Korea, this period is called the Japanese Occupation Period (일제 강점기; Ilje gangjeomgi) or Japanese Imperial Period (일제시대, Ilje sidae). Sometimes it is also referred to as the Wae jeong (Hangul: 왜정, Hanja: 倭政), or "Japanese administration". In Japan, this period is called The Korea under Japanese rule (日本統治時代の朝鮮).

Background

History of Korea
Jeulmun Period
Mumun Period
Gojoseon, Jin
Proto-Three Kingdoms:
 Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye
 Samhan
  Ma, Byeon, Jin
Three Kingdoms:
 Goguryeo
  Sui wars
 Baekje
 Silla, Gaya
North-South States:
 Unified Silla
 Balhae
 Later Three Kingdoms
Goryeo
 Khitan wars
 Mongol invasions
Joseon
 Japanese invasions
 Manchu invasions
Korean Empire
Japanese occupation
 Provisional Gov't
Division of Korea
 Korean War
North, South Korea
  • List of monarchs
  • Military history
  • Naval history
  • Timeline
  • In the late 19th century and early 20th century, various Western countries were competing for influence, trade, and territory in East Asia while Japan sought to join the modern colonial powers. Securing colonies depended on naval power, which required bases and fuel stations. The newly modernised Meiji government of Japan regarded Korea, then in China's sphere of influence, as an essential bulwark against colonization by the Western powers. The Japanese government initially sought to separate Korea from China and make Korea a Japanese satellite in order to further their security and national interests.[2] Imperial Japan prohibited the old social system of the Joseon Dynasty and also introduced capitalism and western culture to Korea.[3]

    Treaty of Ganghwa

    Main article: Treaty of Ganghwa
    Following the Meiji Restoration, Japan employed gunboat diplomacy to pressure Korea to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa, which was regarded as unequal treaty [4] and granted extraterritorial rights and opened three Korean ports to Japanese trade in February 1876. The rights granted to Japan under the treaty were similar to those granted to Western powers in Japan following the visit of Commodore Perry. [5]

    Assassination of Empress Myeongseong

    Main article: Empress Myeongseong


    In 1895, Empress Myeongseong was assassinated by Japanese agents.[6] The Japanese minister to Korea, Miura Goro orchestrated the plot against her. A group of Japanese agents entered the Imperial palace in Seoul, which was under Japanese guard,[7] and Empress Myeongseong (referred to as "Queen Min" by the Japanese) was killed and her body desecrated in the North wing of the palace.[8] The empress had attempted to counter Japanese interference in Korea and was considering turning to Russia or China for support. After the assassination of his consort, Emperor Gojong refused to talk with his father, the Daewon-gun, believing him complicit in the assassination.

    Donghak Revolution and protests for democracy

    The outbreak of the Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894 changed Japanese policy toward Korea. Korea had negotiated with Russia to counterbalance Japan's growing influence. So Chae-pil and Protestant missionaries introduced Western political thought to Korea. Protesters took to the streets, demanding democratic reforms and an end to Japanese and Russian influence in Korean affairs. The Korean government asked for Chinese assistance in ending the revolt. The Meiji leaders decided upon military intervention to challenge China. When China sent troops into Korea, Japan sent its own troops to Korea. Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War, and China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. Among its many stipulations, the treaty recognized "the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea", thus ending Korea's traditional suzerain relationship with China.

    A Gwan Pa Cheon (King's Confinement in Russian Legation)

    Main article: A Gwan Pa Cheon
    On February 11 1896, King Gojong and his crown prince fled from the royal palace to the Russian legation in Seoul, in which they confined themselves and remote-controlled the Korean government for about one year. This event made everyone in the world doubt Korea's ability to stay as an independent nation. Indeed, after the confinement, Korean policy became strongly pro-Russia. Since Japan was very anxious about Russian power, this event made Japan see Korea as a potential threat.

    On the road to annexation

    The strategic rivalry between Russia and Japan exploded in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, won by Japan.[9] Under the peace treaty signed in September 1905, Russia acknowledged Japan's "paramount political, military, and economic interest" in Korea.[9] A separate agreement was signed in secret between the United States and Japan at this time, and this subsequently aroused anti-American sentiment among Koreans decades later.[9] The Taft-Katsura Agreement was cynical by modern standards, exchanging what amounted to a lack of interest and military capability in Korea on the part of the United States (Japan was given a free hand in Korea) for a lack of interest or capability in the Philippines on the part of Japan (Japanese imperialism was diverted from the Philippines).[9] Given the diplomatic conventions of the times, however, the agreement was a much weaker endorsement of the Japanese presence in Korea than either the Russo-Japanese peace treaty or a separate Anglo- Japanese accord.[9] Two months later, Korea was obliged to become a Japanese protectorate.[9] Thereafter, a large number of Koreans organized themselves in education and reform movements, but by then Japanese dominance in Korea was a reality.[9] Japan annexed Korea as a colony on August 22, 1910.[9]

    In June 1907, the Second Peace Conference was held in The Hague. Emperor Gojong secretly sent three representatives, commissioned to bring the problems of Korea to the world's attention. The three envoys ultimately failed, as they were refused access to the public debates by the international delegates who alleged the legality of the protectorate convention, which deprived Korea of its diplomatic prerogatives. Out of despair, one of the Korean representatives, Yi Chun, committed suicide at The Hague.[10]

    In response, the Japanese government took stronger measures. On July 19, as a consequence of his offense, Emperor Gojong was forced to relinquish his imperial authority and appoint the Crown Prince as the regent. The Japanese officials used this concession to force the accession of the new Emperor Sunjong following abdication, which was never agreed to by Gojong. Neither Gojong or Sunjong was present at the 'accession' ceremony. Sunjong was to be the last ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, which had been founded in 1392.[11]

    Annexation of Korea

    Enlarge picture
    General power of attorney to Lee Wan-Yong signed and sealed by the last emperor, Sunjong of Korean Empire (李坧) on August 22, 1910 (隆熙4年).

    Lack of legality

    In May 1910, the Minister of the Army of Japan, Terauchi Masatake, was appointed as "Resident General of Korea", with the mission to finalize the annexation (official commencement of this position after the annexation occurred on October 1 of the same year). On August 22, 1910, Korea was effectively annexed by Japan with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty signed by Lee Wan-Yong, Prime Minister of Korea, and Terauchi Masatake, who became the first de facto Governor-General of Korea.

    The text was published one week later and became effective the same day. The treaty stipulated:
    • "Article 1: His Majesty the Emperor of Korea concedes completely and definitely his entire sovereignty over the whole Korean territory to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
    • Article 2: His Majesty the Emperor of Japan accepts the concession stated in the previous article and consents to the annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan."
    Both the protectorate and the annexation treaties were declared void in the 1965 Basic Treaty between Korea and Japan since it was: 1. obtained under threat of force, and 2. the Korean Emperor, whose royal assent was required to validate and finalize any legislation or diplomatic agreement under Korean law of the period, refused to sign the document,[12][13].

    Liberation movement

    Upon Emperor Gojong's death, anti-Japanese rallies took place nationwide, most notably the March 1 (Samil) Movement of 1919. A declaration of independence was read in Seoul. It is estimated that 2 million people took part in these rallies. The protests were violently suppressed: according to Korean records, 46,948 were arrested, 7,509 killed and 15,961 wounded; according to Japanese figures, 8437 were arrested, 553 killed and 1409 wounded.[14] The Encyclopedia Britannica states that about 7,000 people were killed by the Japanese police and soldiers during the 12 months of demonstrations.[15] The March 1 movement was a catalyst for the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai in April 13, 1919. Some Koreans left the Korean peninsula to Manchuria and Primorsky Krai. Koreans in Manchuria formed resistance groups known as Dongnipgun (Liberation Army) which would travel in and out of the Korean-Chinese boundary, fighting guerrilla warfare with the Japanese forces. These guerilla armies would come together in 1940s as Korean Liberation Army, The Armed Forces of the Provisional Government bringing together the Korean resistance groups in exile. The government duly declared the war against Japan and Germany on December 9, 1941, and the Liberation Army took part in allied action in China and parts of South East Asia. Tens of thousands of Koreans also joined the Peoples Liberation Army and the National Revolutionary Army.

    After the declaration of liberation and the subsequent massacres, some of the aspects of Japanese rule considered most objectionable to Koreans were removed. The military police were replaced by a civilian force, and limited press freedom was permitted. Two of the three major Korean dailies, the Dong-a Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo, were established in 1920.

    Continued anti-Japanese rallies, such as the nationwide uprising of students in November 1929, led to the strengthening of military rule in 1931, after which freedom of the press and expression were curbed. Many witnesses, including Catholic priests, reported that Japanese authorities dealt with alleged insurgency severely. When villagers were suspected of hiding rebels, entire villages of people are said to have been herded into public buildings (especially churches) and massacred when the buildings were set on fire.[16] In the village of Cheam-Ni near Suwon, for instance, a group of 29 people was gathered inside a church which was then set afire to burn them alive.[17] Such events deepened the hostility of many Korean civilians towards the Japanese government.[18]

    World War II

    The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai was considered to be the de jure representation of the Korean people. It coordinated much of struggle against Japan in China and Korea itself throughout the Period of Japanese Rule. On December 9, 1941, shortly after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the provisional government, under the presidency of Kim Gu, declared war on Japan. The military force of the Provisional Government, the Korean Liberation Army took part on the allies side in Chinese and Southeast Asian theatres. Tens of thousands more Koreans volunteered for the National Revolutionary Army and the Peoples Liberation Army. However, they were neither invited to San Francisco, nor became a signatory of the Treaty of San Francisco as they were not recognized as a wartime ally and the Japanese government did not agree to treat Zainichi Koreans as a victorious nation.[19]

    Following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces on 15 August 1945, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation. US forces under General John R. Hodge arrived in the southern part of Korea on 8 September. Colonel Dean Rusk proposed splitting Korea at the 38th parallel at an emergency U.S. meeting to determine spheres of influence during this time.

    Economy and exploitation

    Historians have cited the period of Japanese occupation of Korea as a time of rapid industrial development after a long period of economic stagnation during the Choson era. However, many of these estimates are based on official Japanese statistics and the greater question remains whether Korea would have been able to develop on its own had it not become a colony (See below: Controversy over the Nature of the Japanese Rule).

    In many ways the 'industrialization' of Korea marked not a modernization, but a form of colonial mercantilism,[20] with a colonial economic system designed for the needs of Japan, not Korea. Emphasis on developing infrastructure (virtually non-existent or negligible at the time) was largely to facilitate the transport and eventual shipment of commodities such as raw materials (timber and leather), foodstuffs (mostly rice, meat and fish), and mineral resources (coal and iron, particularly rich in the northern provinces) to Japan proper.

    General average life expectancy did rise during the colonial era, however these figures may be misleading since life expectancy is heavily dependent on the criteria used to select the group and these figures included the Japanese population living in Korea--who had access to better nutrition, health care, commodities, and higher protein diets. Widespread economic poverty and malnutrition for the Korean population remained endemic, aggravated by the annual confiscation of Korean rice for export to Japan. The average amount of Korean rice exported to Japan rose from 1,056,000 sacks in 1912 to 7,161,000 sacks in 1937.

    As Imperial Japan began feeling the strains of World War II, Japan "siphoned off more and more of Korea's resources, including its people, to feed its war machine."[21]

    Colonization efforts and land confiscation

    Duus shows how the Japanese settlers in Korea also played an important role in expanding Japanese influence, a migration which took place in several waves. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, it consisted of mostly petty merchants, peddlers, construction workers, characterized as a "swarm of penny capitalists and carpetbaggers" who were "often rapacious and dishonest". After 1905, the Japanese government wanted its settlers to take root in Korea and encouraged further migration to help consolidate and expand influence. By 1910, the number of Japanese settlers in Korea reached over 170,000, creating the largest overseas Japanese community in the world at the time.

    Many Japanese were interested in acquiring agricultural land in Korea even before Japanese landownership was officially legalized in 1906. Many Japanese took advantage of loose Korean conveyancing practices to acquire land largely for investment purposes, using Koreans as tenant farmers. Japanese landlords included both individuals and corporations, such as the Oriental Development Company. It is estimated that by 1910 perhaps 7 to 8 percent of all arable land was under Japanese control.

    The Japanese seizure of Korean land first became widespread during the time the Korea was a Japanese colony. The Imperial Japanese government handed out large tracts of Korean land at subsidized costs to any Japanese family willing to settle in Korea as part of a larger effort at colonization.[22] Former Korean landowners as well as agricultural workers became internally displaced, having lost their entitlements to labor and property almost overnight. Those who did labor under Japanese landlords did so under significantly higher taxes. As such, Korean farmers suffered under the high degree of their labor, which was required in order to supply rice to an increasingly urbanized Japan. The ownership registration process that Japan required of the Koreans made it difficult, if not close to impossible for self-employed Korean farms to keep their estates from being exploited and taken away by the Eastern Real Estate Corporation, which had been established during the beginning of the colonial era by the Japanese Governor-General to confiscate all land of hereditary ownership. Consequently, Japanese landowners succeeded in monopolizing the management of Korean farms and property. This is well demonstrated during the years 1916, 1920, and 1932, during which the ratio of Japanese land ownership started at 36.8%, then rose to 39.8%, and finally jumped to 52.7%, while the ratio of Korean ownership began at 63.2%, decreased to 60.2%, and finally fell to 47.3%. This colonial policy of land confiscation without compensation, coupled with the rice confiscation lead to severe and persistent famines and food shortages throughout the Korean countryside.[22]

    Forced labor conscriptions

    With the onset of the Pacific War Japan began to experience increasing labor shortages as a result of over-drafting Japanese males for the military. Although initially the Japanese government allowed private and government recruitment of Korean workers, tens of thousands of Koreans were later conscripted into forced labor.

    About 5,400,000 Koreans were conscripted into forced labor from 1939 to 1945. About 670,000 of them were taken to Japan, where about 60,000 died between 1939 and 1945 due mostly to exhaustion or poor working conditions. Many of those taken to Karafuto Prefecture (modern-day Sakhalin) were trapped there at the end of the war, stripped of their nationality and denied repatriation by Japan; they became known as the Sakhalin Koreans.[23] The total deaths of Korean forced laborers in Korea and Manchuria for those years is estimated to be between 270,000 and 810,000.[24]

    In 1938, 0.8 million Koreans were living in Japan as immigrants. The combination of immigrants and forced labor workers during World War II brought that estimate to about 2 million Koreans living in Japan at the end of the war (GHQ estimation). In 1946, 1.34 million people returned to Korea (also estimated by GHQ) and 0.65 million Koreans remained in Japan.

    Politics and culture

    Residents of the Korean peninsula, whether ethnic Korean or Japanese, did not have the right to vote or right to hold office in Japan's House of Representatives. The election law was amended in 1945 to allot 18 seats of the House of Representatives to the Korean peninsula, but this did not go into effect because of the end of the war later in the same year. Koreans in Japan were, however, eventually given the right to vote and to hold office. Bak Chun-geum (박춘금, 朴春琴) was the first ethnic Korean to be elected into the House of Representatives in 1932, and re-elected in 1938. Several members of the Korean Royalty were appointed to the House of Peers including Bak Yeong-Hyo (박영효, 朴泳孝) in 1932. 38 Koreans were elected into local assemblies in 1942.

    Assimilation of the royalty

    Following the forced dissolution of the Korean Empire and the assassination of Empress Myeongseong at the hands of Japanese agents, the Korean royalty was incorporated into the Japanese royalty. Since the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty lacked legality as it was never signed by the Korean Emperor,[12] an effort was made to inter-marry the royalty of the two houses in an attempt to validate the occupation of Korea. Yi Eun, then the Imperial Crown Prince of Korea, married Masako of Nashimotonomiya. Pro-Japanese Koreans (or Chinilpa) who supported or helped the annexation were also given titles of Japanese nobility. Lee Wan-Yong, the last prime minister of the Korean Empire, was given the title of Count (later Duke) by Japanese fiat and against Korean resistance. In total, 76 Koreans were titled Count, Baron, etc. all of which were later invalidated by the Korean Governments after receiving formal charges of betrayal against the state.

    ‘Cultural genocide’

    The Japanese colonization of Korea has been mentioned as the case in point of "cultural genocide" by a graduate student Ms. Matsumura at the Comparative Genocide Studies group at the University of Tokyo.[25] The colonial government put into practice the suppression of Korean culture and language in an “attempt to root out all elements of Korean culture from society”.[21]

    "Focus was heavily and intentionally placed upon the psychological and cultural element in Japan 's colonial policy, and the unification strategies adopted in the fields of culture and education were designed to eradicate the individual ethnicity of the Korean race."[25]


    Initially, the Japanese sponsored several Korean language newspapers to counter the strong anti-Japanese message of the chief Korean publication Hwangson Sinmun (1898-1910),[26] and in fact kept issuing the Korean language newspaper Maeil Sinbo (매일신보; 每日新報) until the Japanese surrender in 1945.[27][26]

    Other means of cultural suppression included the method of “altering” public monuments, including several well-known temples, palaces, scripts, memorials, and statues. Songs and poems originally dedicated to Korean Emperors were re-written to adore the Japanese Emperor. Carved monuments underwent Chinese character alterations to delete or change part of their meaning.

    Two of the more notorious events included the Sungnyemun, a virtual symbol of Korea, which was altered by the addition of large, Shinto-style golden horns near the roofs (later removed by the South Korean government after independence), and the incident of Gyeongbokgung, a former Korean palace which was demolished and the Japanese General Government Building built in the exact location. In addition, many ancient Korean texts that were discovered mentioning Korean military and cultural exploits or Japan's historic inferiority and uncivilized behavior such as Wokou were deleted methodically; in general, the awareness of Korean history among Koreans declined during this period. This process of altering history carried out by the Editing Agency of Korean History.

    This eventually led to a revival in Korean nationalism, including in-depth research projects into Hangul, the Korean alphabet, which resulted in the standardization of the Korean writing system by scholars such as I Hui-Seong (이희성) and Choe Hyeon-bae (최현배) in the 1930s, as well as underground publications of books about historical Korean figures. Historians, such as Sin Chae-ho, were active in trying to present a Koreanized version of ancient history using textual material.

    Forced name changes

    Main article: Sōshi-kaimei


    In 1911 a proclamation, “Case Concerning the Changing of Korean Names” (朝鮮人ノ姓名改称ニ関スル件) was issued barring ethnic Koreans from taking Japanese names and to retroactively revert the names of Koreans that had already registered under Japanese names back to the original Korean ones[28] in an attempt to better segregate individuals of Korean and Japanese ancestry.[28] By 1939, however, the focus had shifted towards colonial assimilation, and Imperial Decree 19 on Korean Civil Affairs (조선민사령; “帝令19朝鮮民事令”)[29] went into effect, whereby all Koreans had to surrender their Korean family name and adopt Japanese surnames. A country study conducted by the Library of Congress states that “Korean culture was quashed, and Koreans were required to speak Japanese and take Japanese names.”[30][31][32] This forced name change, called Changssi-gaemyeong (창씨개명; 創氏改名), was part of Japan's assimilation policy[33][34][35] that, according to Ms. Yuko Matsumura, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, “not only robbed the victims of their identity, but also served to destroy the traditional Korean family system.[25]

    Imperial education

    Following the annexation of Korea, education became primarily an instrument of “Imperial Citizen Forming” (황민화; 皇民化) by the Empire of Japan as part of their assimilation policy (同化政策; dōka seisaku). Although the Japanese colonial government did provide education material for Korean culture and language in some degree, such as a textbook of Hangul[36] and grammar to mix Hangul with Chinese characters (in the version designed by Inoue Kakugorō),[37] classes focused mostly on teaching the history of the Japanese Empire as well as glorification of the “Heavenly Sovereign”. Korean students were made to worship at Japanese Shinto shrines regardless of their religious beliefs, swear an oath of loyalty to the Emperor of Japan, and show their support for Japan's “Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” policy. Teachers at elementary, middle, and high schools typically dressed in military uniforms and carried military-style swords to enforce the intimidation of students. All classes were taught in Japanese with Korean Language originally being a student elective. Later this policy was scrapped and replaced by a “Penalty Point” system whereby students were academically penalized for the use of the Korean language during schooltime. Eventually the use of Korean language was “forbidden in all schools and business”.[21] During colonial times, elementary schools were known as “Citizen Schools” (국민학교; 國民學校; gungmin hakgyo) as in Japan, as a means of forming proper “Imperial Citizens” (皇國民; Hwanggungmin) since early childhood. Elementary schools in South Korea today are known by the name chodeung hakgyo (초등학교; 初等學校) (literally “Elementary School”) as the term “gungmin hakgyo” has become a politically incorrect and sensitive term.

    Military conscription

    Starting in 1938, Koreans both enlisted and were conscripted into the Japanese military and the first "Korean Voluntary" Unit was formed. Among notable Korean personnel in the Imperial Army was Hong Sa-ik, a lieutenant general who was later hanged for war crimes. Of those who survived, some later gained administrative posts in the government of South Korea; well-known examples include Park Chung Hee, who years later became president of South Korea, Chung Il-kwon (정일권,丁一權), prime minister during 1964–1970, and Paik Sun-yup, South Korea's youngest general, famous for his defense of the Pusan Perimeter during the Korean War. The first 10 of the Chiefs of Army Staff of South Korea graduated the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and no one from the Korean Liberation Army.[38][39]

    Starting in 1941, Japan started conscription of Koreans into the armed forces. All Korean males were drafted to either join the Imperial Japanese Army, as of April 1944, or work in the military industrial sector, as of September 1944. Before 1944, 18,000 Koreans passed the examination for induction into the army. The application ratio was allegedly 48.3 to 1 in 1943. From 1944, about 200,000 Korean males were inducted into the army. The number of Korean military personnel was 242,341, and 22,182 of them died during World War II. At the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal 148 Koreans were convicted of Class B and C war crimes, 23 of whom were sentenced to death. In 2002, South Korea started an investigation of Japanese collaborators. Part of the investigation was completed in 2006 and a list of names of individuals who profited from exploitation of fellow Koreans were posted. Many collaborators were able to afford higher education with the money they had made; this allowed them to take up influential positions and afford to contribute to the well-being of their children who thus also profited.

    Korean military participation until 1943
    Year Applicants # accepted
    19382,946406
    193912,348613
    194084,4433,060
    1941144,7433,208
    1942254,2734,077
    1943303,2946,300
    [40]

    Comfort women, victims of nuclear attacks, and Japanese war crimes

    During World War II, women who served in the Japanese military brothels were called Comfort women. Historians estimate the number of comfort women between 10,000 and 200,000, which include Japanese women.[41][42] According to testimonies, there were cases that Japanese officials and local collaborators kidnapped or recruited under guise of factory employment poor, rural women from Korea (and other nations) for sexual slavery for Japanese military.

    As investigations continue, more evidence continues to surface. There has been evidence of the Japanese government intentionally destroying official records regarding Comfort Women.[43][44] Nonetheless, Japanese inventory logs and employee sheets on the battlefield show traces of documentation for government sponsored sexual slavery. In one instance, names of known Comfort Women were traced to Japanese employment records. One such woman was falsely classified as a nurse along with at least a dozen other verified comfort women who were not nurses or secretaries. Currently, the South Korean government is looking into the hundreds of other names on these lists.[45]

    In the case of Korean A-bomb victims in Japan during World War II, many Koreans were drafted for work at military industrial factories in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were a total of 70,000 Korean casualties in both cities; 40,000 were killed and 30,000 were exposed to the A-bomb radiation.

    During Japanese Occupation of Korea, most Koreans became victims of Japanese war crimes, such as Christians being crucified, Korean villages found hiding resistance fighters were dealt with harshly often with summary execution, rape, murder, at times burying elderly people alive; other crimes included human experimentation, mass murder, forced labour, preventable famine and looting.

    "To this day, valuable Korean artifacts can often be found in Japanese museums or among private collectors. According to the investigation of the South Korea government, There are 75,311 cultural assets that were taken from Korea. Japan has 34,369; the United States has 17,803. Today, Korea frequently demands the return of these artifacts to which Japan does not comply."


    Koreans along with many other Asians were experimented on in secret military medical experimentation units, such as Unit 731, Unit 516, and many more. An estimated 270,000 - 810,000 Koreans died in seven years from forced labor alone.[46]

    Controversial statements regarding Japanese rule in Korea

    The nature, legitimacy, and legacy of the Japanese annexation of Korea, especially its disputed role in contributing to the modernization of the Korean peninsula, is a topic of intense debate. In both Koreas, Japanese rule in the early twentieth century is taught as a ruthless attempt to exploit the Korean people, comparable to the ruthless exploitation of the Poles during the Nazi German occupation. In both South and North Korea, Japanese historical revisionism is viewed along the same lines as Holocaust denial in modern Europe..

    Nonetheless, controversial pro-Japanese statements of the occupation of Korea have been made by Korean academics:
    • Professor Rhee Young Hoon (이영훈) of Seoul National University (서울대) argued at a seminar hosted by the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford that despite human rights problems, the Korean economy had grown greatly under the Japanese rule and that the base of modern capitalism introduced by the Japanese to Korea later became a part of the foundation of the modern Korean economy.[47] Within mainstream South Korean academia, however, Rhee is generally discredited.
    • Professor Emeritus Ahn Byung Jik (안병직) of Seoul National University rejects the prevailing view that the late Joseon Dynasty had a germination of capitalism and could have grown into a modern society on its own, and argues that the Japanese rule helped the economic development of Korea.[48]
    • Professor Emeritus Han Seung-Jo of Korea University wrote that "The colonial rule of Korea by Japan was actually a stroke of good fortune, and instead of hating them for it, they should be thanked. There is no reason to rebuke, denounce or make criminals of the pro-Japanese activities of 35 years of cooperation without opposition", and said in a later interview that "At the time, if Japan hadn't taken over Chosun, Russia would have, and if that had happened the Korean people would have been scattered under Josef Stalin's racial dispersion policy", and that "I see the colonial rule by Japan as having been not a bad thing, but instead an opportunity for the strengthening of the Korean people's awareness."[49]
    • Ji Man-Won, a retired South Korean military officer and author caused controversy in Korea and further abroad with his view. Ji has praised Japan for "modernizing" Korea, and has said "only around 20 percent of the Korean women who sexually served the Japanese military personnel were forced, while the remaining 80 percent volunteered in order to make money".[50]

    1910 interpretations and arguments

    Early views of Japanese colonialism before the start of World War II were mixed. T. Philip Terry predicted the following in his 1914 guidebook Terry's Japanese Empire, Including Korea and Formosa:

    "That intelligent Koreans will later be as grateful to Japan as the Japanese now are to the United States, there is but little doubt. With customary astuteness and good will, Japan has adopted the admirable British idea in colonization of giving every man, British or alien, friend or foe, the same chance...Japan is to-day repaying Korea for centuries of unjust invasion, by the introduction of civilization and enlightenment."[51]


    However, not all outside accounts before the start of the war were as favorable towards the Japanese occupation. F.A. McKenzie in his book Korea's Fight for Freedom wrote the following in 1920:

    "When Japan, in face of her repeated pledges, annexed Korea, her statesmen adopted an avowed policy of assimilation. They attempted to turn the people of Korea into Japanese--an inferior brand of Japanese, a serf race, speaking the language and following the customs of their overlords, and serving them....'The Koreans are a degenerate people, not fit for self-government', says the man whose mind has been poisoned by subtle Japanese propaganda. Korea has only been a very few years in contact with Western civilization, but it has already indicated that this charge is a lie. Its old Government was corrupt, and deserved to fall. But its people, wherever they have had a chance, have demonstrated their capacity. In Manchuria hundreds of thousands of them, mostly fled from Japanese oppression, are industrious and prosperous farmers. In the Hawaiian Islands, there are five thousand Koreans, mainly labourers, and their families, working on the sugar plantations."[52][53]

    Modern interpretations and arguments



    Korea experienced a true modernization in post-World War II under the stewardship of the United States and the income from a highly export-oriented industrialization for several reasons:[20]
    1. The Korean War (1950-1953), which followed the Japanese occupation, destroyed most of the peninsula (in total about 2,500,000 people were killed, more than 80% of the national infrastructure including industrial and public facilities and transportation works, as well as three-quarters of the government offices, and one-half of residential areas were destroyed. The Korean peninsula after the Korean War had an overall economy "comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa" (see CIA World Factbook).
    2. North Korea is not, by modern standards, an industrialized nation and suffers from widespread poverty, famine and power outages.
    3. South Korea's economy grew mostly during the 1960s and 70's under the dictatorship era of General Park and the economic reforms under the Third and Fourth Republics. "From 1960/62 to 1973/75 the share of agriculture in GDP fell from 45 percent to 25 percent, while the share of manufacturing rose from 9 percent to 27 percent"[54] The total GDP also grew in excess of 500% for this relatively short period. It was during this time of rapid economic growth that foreign observers first applied the term Economic Miracle of the Han River and that Korea earned itself the distinctive title of Economic Tiger.[55]
    4. Most Korean companies, especially the large Chaebol which form the powercore of the South Korean economic oligarchy, were founded well after the end of the Japanese occupation. These include, but are not limited to: Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Group, LG Group, and SK Telecom (known as the "Big Four" in South Korea). [56]

    Japan's coverup efforts

    Many argue that sensitive information about Japan's occupation of Korea is difficult to obtain, and that this is due to the fact that the Government of Japan has gone out of its way to cover up many incidents that would otherwise lead to severe international criticism.[57][43][44] On their part, Koreans have often expressed their abhorrence of human experimentation carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army where people often became human test subjects in such macabre experiments as liquid nitrogen tests or biological weapons development programs (See articles: Unit 731 and Shiro Ishii). Though some vivid and disturbing testimonies have survived, they are largely denied by the Japanese Government even to this day.[58]

    A recent example of this behavior included the denial by the Japanese Government of the burial of non-Japanese test-subject bodies several dozen feet below buildings in Japanese urban areas (such as the bodies found under the Toyama No. 5 apartment blocks) in order to cover up these experiments. Flatly denied, even after the bodies are discovered as new developments are constantly being erected in Japan. The unmarked mass graves on the "west side of Tokyo is deeply troubling". The testimony of Toyo Ishii, a nurse involved in the coverup, are down played or ignored.[57][59][60] "After more than 60 years of silence the 84-year-old nurse's story is the latest twist in the legacy of Japan's rampage." In addition, as cited above, much of the statistics are skewed due to the fact that they included Japanese migrants in Korea, making the poverty analysis of true Koreans indiscernible. Also, as referenced above the inventory logs and employee sheets were falsified by the Japanese in order to cover up the comfort women issue.[44] These coverups and falsification of data have made accurate assessment of Japan's impact on Korea very difficult.

    See also

    Notes and references

    1. ^ BBC NEWS, A Guide to North Korea
    2. ^ Duus, Peter (1995). The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-0861F7. 
    3. ^ Eckert, Carter J.. Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism,1876-1945. ISBN 0-295-97533-4. 
    4. ^ A reckless adventure in Taiwan amid Meiji Restoration turmoil, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, Retrived on 2007-7-22.
    5. ^ A reckless adventure in Taiwan amid Meiji Restoration turmoil, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, Retrived on 2007-7-22.
    6. ^ Lee, Wha Rang. "Murder of Empress Myeongseong". Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    7. ^ See Russian eyewitness account of surrounding circumstances at [1]
    8. ^ Simbirtseva, Tatiana. "Queen Min of Korea: Coming to Power", 1996-05-08. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    9. ^ Hadar, Oren. South Korea; The Choson Dynasty. Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved on 2007-02-20.
    10. ^ Hulbert, H. B. (1999). History of Korea. Routledge. ISBN 070070700X. 
    11. ^ Keene, D. (2005). Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912. Columbia University Press. ISBN 023112340X. 
    12. ^ "Treaty of Annexation", USC-UCLA Joint East Asian Studies Center. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    13. ^ Yutaka, Kawasaki. "Was the 1910 Annexation Treaty Between Korea and Japan Concluded Legally?", Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, 1996-08-07. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    14. ^ Lee, Ki-Baik; Translated by Edward W. Wagner with Edwar J. Shultz (1999). A New History of Korea (韓国史新論). Ilchorak/Harvard University Press, p. 1080. ISBN 0-674-61575-1. 
    15. ^ March First Movement. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    16. ^ Wells, Kenneth M. (1989). Background to the March First Movement: Koreans in Japan, 1905-1919.. Korean Studies, V. 13, 1989, pp. 1-21. 
    17. ^ Lee, Ki-Baik; Translated by Edward W. Wagner with Edwar J. Shultz (1999). A New History of Korea (韓国史新論). Ilchorak/Harvard University Press, p. 344. ISBN 0-674-61575-1. 
    18. ^ Land of the Rising Sun. The Rise of Nationalism, and the Impact of the Sam-Il (3-1) Movement As A Living Symbol of Anti-Japanese Resistance. Retrieved on 2006-07.
    19. ^ Dulles, John Foster. "Japanese Peace Treaty Files". Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    20. ^ Lee, Jong-Wha. Economic Growth and human Production in the Republic of Korea, 1945 - 1992. United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    21. ^ History of Korea; 20th Century. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    22. ^ Nozaki, Yoshiko; Hiromitsu Inokuchi, Tae-young Kim. Legal Categories, Demographic Change and Japan’s Korean Residents in the Long Twentieth Century. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    23. ^ Lankov, Andrei. "Stateless in Sakhalin", The Korea Times, 2006-01-05. Retrieved on 2006-11-26. 
    24. ^ Rummel, R. J. (1999). Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1990. Lit Verlag. ISBN 3-8258-4010-7.  Available online: Statistics of Democide: Chapter 3 - Statistics Of Japanese Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources. Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War. Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    25. ^ Matsumura, Yuko. "Cultural Genocide" and the Japanese Occupation of Korea. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    26. ^ Cohen, Nicole. Japanese Periodicals in Colonial Korea. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    27. ^ [2]
    28. ^ Mizuno, Naoki. "植民地支配と「人の支配」 (Colonial control and "human control")". Kyoto University. Retrieved on 2007-02-20.
    29. ^ 윤, 해동. 황국신민화정책자료해설 (Korean). Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    30. ^ North Korea; The Rise of Korean Nationalism and Communism (1993-06). Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    31. ^ Part III: The problem from a historical perspective. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    32. ^ Fukuoka, Yasunori. Koreans in Japan: Past and Present. Saitama University Review, Vol.31, No.1.. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    33. ^ Japan’s minorities yet to find their place in the sun. SAHRDC. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    34. ^ Stearns, Peter N.. The Encyclopedia of World History. 2001.. Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    35. ^ Korean Permanent Residents in Japan. Center for US-Japan Comparative Social Studies. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    36. ^ ハングルを奪った日帝 (Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    37. ^ [3]
    38. ^ 육군 참모총장, The Republic of Korea Army (Korean). Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    39. ^ "초기 육군 총장들은 일본 육사 출신, 여야 설전", CBS Nocut News/Naver, 2005-09-26. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. (Korean) 
    40. ^ 太平洋戦争下の朝鮮及び台湾、友邦協会、1961, pg. 191
    41. ^ U.S. playwright takes up 'comfort women' cause. The Japan Times (2005). Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    42. ^ Japan court rules against 'comfort women'. CNN.com (2001). Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    43. ^ Horsley, William. "Korean World War II sex slaves fight on", BBC News, 2005-08-09. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    44. ^ "Japan Boiled Comfort Woman to Make Soup", The Seoul Times. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    45. ^ Yun-deok, Kim. "Military Record of 'Comfort Woman' Unearthed", The Chosun Ilbo, 2005-01-11. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    46. ^ Rummel, R. J.. Statistics Of Japanese Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    47. ^ 한국 선진 경제 시작은 근대화 시스템 도입에서. JongAngUSA.com (2005). Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    48. ^ 일제식민지 경험이 경제발전 도왔다?. Segye Ilbo (2005). Retrieved on 2006-03-01.
    49. ^ "한승조 '일 식민지배는 축복' 기고 파문", Ohmynews.com, 2005-03-04. Retrieved on 2007-03-09. (Korean) 
    50. ^ Jin-woo, Lee. "Writer angers comfort women", The Korea Times, 2005-04-15. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    51. ^ . Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    52. ^ McKenzie, F. A.. . Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    53. ^ McKenzie, F. A.. . Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    54. ^ Cha, Myung Soo; Robert Whaples. The Economic History of Korea. Retrieved on 2004-06-21.
    55. ^ Korean (1945 - present). Columbia University. Retrieved on 2007-02-19.
    56. ^ [4]
    57. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari. "Nurse Reveals Wartime Atrocities Buried Beneath Quiet Tokyo Neighborhood", Associated Press, 2006-09-16. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    58. ^ [5]
    59. ^ "Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanking", BBC News, 2005-04-11. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 
    60. ^ Barenblatt, Daniel, Victor Fic. "The horrors of Unit 731 revisited", Asia Times, 2005-01-29. Retrieved on 2007-02-19. 

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