Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army

Korea Soldier in German Uniform from http://www.worldwar2database.com/ There was a book review recently in the Korea Times about a couple of authors who had published recently. The review was titled Masters Return With Bitter History and covered a couple of areas of Korean History.

What particularly interested me was a photo from World War II that served as an inspiration for Jo JungRae, an author, for his latest book, “Oh God.” The photo shows a Korean soldier in German uniform on a Normandy beach in 1944. The photo itself had been previously featured in “D-Day” by Stephen Ambrose. Apparently an American soldier from the war had told Ambrose that he had met four Koreans wearing German uniforms when his unit participated in action against German troops on the beaches of Normandy.

It seems that the Koreans had been conscripted into the Japanese Army but after being captured by the Russians at the Battle of Nomonhan in the Russo-Japanese War (part II, the 1940’s one, not the 1904-05 one). They were pressed into service in the Russian Army. Captured by the Germans in a battle near Moscow, the Koreans were then pressed into service in the Wehrmacht. They were then captured by the Americans whilst they were engaged working on the Atlantic Wall. The Americans (mercifully) did not press them into service but rather held them as prisoners of war.

It seems that these poor souls never made it back home to Korea as apparently the Koreans were exchanged with the Soviets for American POWs liberated by the Red Army. This I find a little suspicious as at that time the Red Army and the US Army were on the same side and no POW exchanges should have been necessary. I could accept that they were returned to the Soviet’s however as at that time there was a largish Korean Diaspora under Soviet control and they therefore would have seemed like a Soviet problem to deal with.

The picture itself can be viewed at the WW2 Multimedia Database == World War II Multimedia Database, WW2 Talk the homepage of the Database being here at http://www.worldwar2database.com/. The book itself is written in Korean so I cannot read into it, however, the idea behind the book was appealing, doubly so as I have been doing some research into the Battle of Nomonhan anyway. I will post an article about that later when I get the research finished.

Added 3 May 2016: For some further information have a look at https://thomo.coldie.net/2011/06/20/korean-soldiers-in-ww2-german-armypart-2/

I have recently added a post which has some illustrations of Central Asians caught up in the war against Germany – in this case Mongols and possible Kazakhs. See Images of War – Two Books Reviewed for details

85 thoughts on “Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army

  1. Eric Munhall 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I have never heard about the Koreans. However, I do know that the Soviets did have a number of U.S. servicemen held for the duration of the war. My college professor/advisor used to fly for the Army Air Core in World War II. The U.S. used to build plans, then fly them to Russia, via Alaska to Kamchatcha, from where Soviet pilots would fly them to Soviet air bases in the west. A number of U.S. pilots crashed or flew off course. These men were routinely in prisioned by the Soviets, without any public outcry from the U.S. government.


  2. James 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Fascinating post. I wonder how the soldiers who only knew Korean were given orders?

    One issue though: Japan didn't start conscripting Koreans into their armed forces until 1944. If those soldiers were captured by the Russians in 1940, they were probably volunteers.


  3. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I could suppose that as all of Korea and a chunk of Manchuria was under Japanese control before the Battle of Nomonhan the Japanese may have required non-combatants (cooks, porters, drivers etc) and pressed the Koreans into those roles rather than a combat role. Of course, the Koreans may have volunteered as you suggested James as there were quite a number of Quislings in Korea at the time (hmm, as they likely joined before Germany invaded Norway, can you have a quisling at that time?).


    • Ausfy 19 November 2012 / 5:22 am

      Well I saw the documentary about the two korean (and it was in Korean). And apparently, they all died. Stalin’s order 270, which was to kill all the prisoners, also effected the Koreans, because they decided to serve Red army (we, koreans, never liked to serve Japanese army). The prisoner exchanged happened in order to maintain good relationship with soviet union.


  4. Eddie 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hi there! Coud you be kind enough to give me an information about korean

    soldiers being used by the japanese imperial army during their campaign in the Philippine Islands during word war 2. As far as I can remember my grand dad used to tell me that he has known of a common soldier of the japanese army by the name of "kim" and "park". Surely, those names aren't japanese at all. I was wondering that these doubts might find light. Afterall, Korea is just near Japan. And Korea has been under Japanese rule for some 45 or 43 years maybe? I'm not so sure. I was quite doubtful that the japanese army might have used KOrean soldiers , maybe most of them abducted fisherman from the coastal regions near Dokdo or maybe Pusan.


    • Ausfy 19 November 2012 / 5:30 am

      Korea was annexed in 1910 to 1945 my friend. And many Koreans were conscripted by the Japanese. Japan pretty much wanted to eradicate the Korean language and forced korean people to change their last name into Japanese. As result of the mass conscription, Koreans pretty much fought everywhere. The most famous location that the conscripted army fought was in Burma. The conscripted army fought fearlessly, giving the notorious reputations to the British soldiers in Burma (okay known as Thailand). Yet, they never knew that the army was mostly (or at least 50% of the army) was the Koreans. It is really sad to know that most of young Koreans were fought against the Allies, so they can see their families again. Yet, that rarely happened.


  5. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I'm not sure about what happened in the Philippines Eddie but I do know that Korean soldiers were used in the Japanese Army as concentration camp guards in S.E. Asia. It is not so suprising as Korea had been under Japanese rule for 40 years by this stage and certainly the "Righteous Army" in Korea was gone.

    Kim and Park are definitely not Japanese names.

    One other thing to remember is that there is (and was) a huge diaspora of Koreans in Japan so maybe the soldiers came from that group.


  6. Taesoo Kim 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I, myself is Korean American and in my family photo album, there's a photo of my granduncle (my paternal grand mother's younger brother) in Japanese Army uniform. The photo was taken right before he was sent out to God knows where. When I was young, I didn't think too much of it but, as I got older, it was pretty shocking see the image. I heard from my grandparents that lot of Korean men (young and old) were drafted to fight for Japanese cause, some willingly and definitely most not willingly. And during the Japanese annexation of Korea, Koreans eventually had to change their last name to Japanese style last name. Otherwise you weren't able to go to school or work in decent institution. My family's last name is Kim and in Japanese, they pronounce it Kane and they would add one more character. For my family's case they added mountain character which would pronounce Kaneyama. And of course they had to adapt Japanese first name as well. So even if there weren't that many Kims and Lees and Parks in the list of Japanese soldiers, most likely there were quiet a lot of Korean men in Japanese army using Japanese style last names.


  7. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Thanks for the comment Kim Taesoo-ssi. The Japanese occupation of Korea and then the Second World War is still a difficult and vexing period of history – but history it is. It still is something that offers up raw emotion and can be difficult to discuss and talk about.

    I am grateful for the insight into the lastnames – that will make some of the reading in the future a little easier to understand.


    • kcheng 21 August 2012 / 1:17 pm

      Korea and Taiwan were not occupied by Japan due to WWII. They were already part of the Japanese empire PRIOR to WWII. Taiwan since 1895. Korea since 1910. Unlike Manchuria–that was capture by Japan during WWII.


      • Fritz 23 August 2012 / 4:51 am

        Actually the Manchurian incident (propagated by the Kwantung Army) occurred in 1931, which created the nominally independent nation of Manchukuo.
        That was long before WWII, even if you count the Second Sino-Japanese war as WWII, and Japan did not really “capture” Manchukuo as it never became part of the Empire, but an allied country.


  8. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    To Omar – #4 above. The link http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Soc/soc.h… which shows the soldier notes that his name was

    Kyoungjong Yang who was born in Shin Euijoo, Northwestern Korea on March 3, 1920

    which is defintely not Tibet 🙂

    There were references to Tibetans elsewhere in that piece and following the discussions on that topic on that link provide some interesting suggestions as well.


  9. John Ciccone 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Dear Thomo the lost and Permalink. How Glad I am to find you!!! I've been fascinated by the story of the Korean soldiers catured at Normandy for several years.

    When I read that one of the men lived in the US and NEVER TOLD ANYONE ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES, I was geatly disappointed.

    One can only imaging the deprivation and horrors this man expeienced and survived, a virtually unique vantage point on history, and alas, the story died with him.

    A couple of points: I believe at Tarawa about a hundred prisoners were taken, but they turned out to be Koreans who were used as a slave labor force. So there were Koreans in Japanese military service before 1944, mainly as forced laborers (not to mention the thousands of Korean girls and women forced to act as "comfort women" for Japanese troops).

    My assumption was that the Koreans captured in Normandy were pressed into service roles (cooks, porters, drivers etc)with the Japanese Army, and then simply captured by the Russians.

    As I recall, in the footnote in Ambrose's book on D-Day, these fellows were a bit of a mystery to the American intelligence officers who interviewed them but did not know what language they spoke for a period of about 3 days. At some point the Koreans must have been debriefed or interviewed, and an intelligence report must be in an archive somewhere.

    Do you know where one would find the archives of intelligence interviews from D-Day?

    As it happens I live in Bethesda, Maryland, just a few miles from the National Archives in Washington DC and the main center in suburban Maryland.

    If there is someting I can look up for you, let me know.

    Best regards,

    John Ciccone


  10. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hi John, Thanks for the kind offer to look stuff up the National Archives in Washington – as I am in Australia now it is kind of a long trip for me to make 🙂

    Seems that not only did Koreans end up in Wehrmacht service, but I have heard recently a tale of some Mongolians also ending up in Wehrmacht service, to be captured by the Allies in Western Europe. At this stage I have little more than a note from a member, TA152, of the World War II Forums concerning a location in the US known as Camp Swift. If I find out more you can be sure I will post it here.



    • Joe Fliel 22 January 2012 / 10:00 am

      Camp Swift was located in Bastrop County, Texas.


  11. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    And to Sikander Mleccha with his comment at World War II Forums, where he said:

    Thank you for your insightful comment that the Americans "(mercifully)" did not press the Koreans captured in Normandy into service. Instead, they were sent back straight to Stalin where (like all Soviet POWs forced to serve the Germans in any capacity) they faced certain death, preceded most likely by vicious torture in the Gulag, the Soviet equivalent of the Nazi Konzentrationslager system. A moving example of American mercy indeed.

    I suggest you read what I actually wrote and note that it says that the Americans were merciful in not pressing them into service in a fourth army but then the "poor souls" were sent back to the USSR – possibly to join the large Korean Diaspora in Central Asia.

    At no time did I suggest that the sending of these folks back to the USSR was in any way merciful.


  12. Edwin R Ward Jr, 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Ethnic Koreans have lived in China, Japan and the old Soviet Union (Eastern Siberia) for centuries. Most Koreans that served in the Japanese Army, especially in the Pacific, aginst the Allies, were laborers or srvants to Japanese officers, including Korean women who were known as "comforts." When I was stationed in Korea in 1964, I became acquainted with a Korean Professor who taught in the U of Maryland college program. During WWII he was a grad student in Germany and did not return to Korean until after the war. I remmeber him telling about several fello Koreans being in Germany. It is quite possible thant some displaced Koreans, as well as Chinese and Jamanese could have served as volunteers in the German or Soviet Army. I also know for a fact that during WWII Korean officers in the HJapanese Army ran some of the POW camps in Korea and in other locations that housed Allied prisioners. AA few of these individuals later become high ranking officers in the ROK Army. While in Korean my unit kept a bio book on the ROK which held all of gthe details of the training and past assignments of ROK senior officers.


  13. STFU JAMES 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am




    Note from Thomo: I edited the last sentence out as it was nothing but pure invective and whilst I believe strongly that we should be able to express an opinion, it's my blog here and I will not accept invective.


  14. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I am presuming the reader who posted the comment above me is Korean – although I wonder why that reader can not at least stand by his convictions and identify himself rather than just use an even faker name than most Internet handles. In any case, it seems the reader was angry about the comment that not all Korean soldiers in the Japanese Army were pressed into service and that some prior to 1944 may have been volunteers. That reader did not do any research of course, just yelled loudly as so many folks do on the Internet. I did some research and whilst I can't comment on the veracity of James' claim, I can offer the following:

    In The Statistics of Democide, Chapter 3 – the Statistics Of Japanese Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources by R.J. Rummel, Rummel notes that:

    Information on Korean deaths under Japanese occupation is difficult to uncover (Korea was not invited to participate in the War Crimes Trial). We do know that 5,400,000 Koreans were conscripted for labor beginning in 1939 (line 119), but how many died can only be roughly estimated. Apparently Koreans were better treated than were laborers from other countries, but still their work hours, food and medical care were such that large numbers died (even Japanese coolies forced to work in other countries were so maltreated that many died). This is clear from the 60,000 Korean laborers that died in Japan out of the near 670,000 that were brought there in the years 1939 to 1945 (line 119a).

    My own doctor about 20 years ago, before my first trip to Korea, told me of his time in Changi Prisoner of War Camp during World War 2 and he said that "the Korean guards were the worst".

    It would seem that some of these pressed into labour were perhaps used as camp guards and would therefore have been in uniform perhaps appearing similar to Japanese soldiers so it could appear as though they had volunteered for the army.

    It needs to be remembered too that not every Korean resisted the Japanese occupation. Some Koreans accepted the occupation and worked with the Japanese. There were reprisals and “issues” that the Koreans themselves had to deal with from the time of the Japanese occupation until and during Syngman Rhee’s presidency. This is hard for some Koreans to accept, that not 100% of the population resisted the Japanese occupation. Certainly there were Korean Quislings (in the same way that there were Norwegian Quislings, including Quisling himself, and Danish Quislings and Quislings in just about every occupied country).

    So, relax the invective, it serves no purpose, and if you believe the position presented by someone is incorrect, then lay out your reasons for that belief, preferably with some references that we can all view and use to form or reform our own opinions. Issue invective and nothing is served. Present a contribution to discussion and we all benefit.


  15. B M 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hi. If this guy is really a Korean, it seems for me highly improbable he comes from Nomonhan. First, after the incident was over, there was the prisoners exchange between Russians and Japanese. I don't know about any prisoners left, though met mentions that some japanese prisoners were unwilling to return fearing harsh treatment. By the way, Koreans in the Japanese army MUST be named in the Japanese style (given that the same Chinese characters for names may be read "Korean" or "Japanese"), so they cannot be easily identified (and, again, force laborers and support personnel could kept Korean names). I found an interesting mention about border incidents of 1936. Then Japanese captured 12 Mongolians on a border post and the Mongolian later captured about the same Japanese who said they went across the border by accident. They were exchanged but "private first class Hanyuan Koninenu of Korean nationality refused to return. The Mongolian governement allowed him to stay". Actually the name sounds half-Chinese half-Japanese and definitly no Korean. Anyway, it's ABSOLUTELY impossible that any Korean "acquired" from Manchuria served in the Red Army. Because even "Russian" Koreans, who lived in Russia since the end of the XIX c., were forcefully re-settled from the Far East to the Central Asia in 1937 and were NOT conscripted during the WWII. Some of them did manage to join the Red Army voluntarily but they were accepted with suspicion and often sent back (though one Korean even got the Hero of the Soviet Union). So there were very few Koreans in the Red Army, perhaps less than 1000 (of 170 000 resettled).


  16. Jonny 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am


    I am currently during research on Soviet Koreans. By the 1940's, there were perhaps 500,000 Koreans mostly from Hamgyong and Pyong'an provinces in the north who had migrated to Manchuria. This man was probably one of those recruited. There are tons of articles on this, academic articles, if you send me an email, I can send you some examples.

    A request if you don't mind, can you contact John Ciccone for me and ask him if he would contact me, I need help with research from library of Congress and am willing to reimburse for it.




  17. michael moon 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hello, Thomo

    I am a Korean-American. I live in the Dallas area. I am currently attending a theological seminary. If you need any information regarding Koreans in general, maybe I can help you.

    I enjoyed reading your comments. I think they are very accurate and represent your keen insight.

    I also enjoyed John Ciccone's comment.

    It is refreshing to see that you look into these matters without prejudice.

    By the way, if I may, thousands of Koreans ended up in Khazakhstan during Stalin's forced resettlement. Their descendants are called "Koryo-In", a term for some Korean descendants living outside the Korean Peninsula. They do very well and are considered model citizens of that country.


    • John Johnson 16 February 2012 / 3:33 am

      About Korean prison guards being the worst, in a way it makes sense. Obviously some Koreans chose to work with Japanese for whatever reason, such as advancing in society, money, to prove they are capable etc. In a way Koreans who chose to be like that would work harder, meaning they would be harsher/crueler. So I'm not surprised there were such koreans. And of course such Koreans were hated by other Koreans.


    • John Johnson 16 February 2012 / 3:46 am

      I met a descendant of that group from Khazakhsta, actually mom is Korean and the dad russian. His grandmother (who's now in 90's) was one of the Koreans that were forcibly removed from Russian side of Russia/Korean border. He told me Koreans in the region were treated differently depending on who was the governor of the province. Sometimes they were treated ok but sometimes were not. However once Stalin began to suspect the Koreans might be spying for japanese, he ordered them removed and sent to Khazakhstan.

      He said entire villages were emptied out at night, with barely little notice and shipped off in box cars. A 2nd such cleaning happened once those that were away for work/business returned home. About 3 quarters of them died on the way (the trains traveled for days without stopping the whole way) from lack of food/water. Once they were dropped off at the destination, the survivors started digging (for farming). Of the survivors, another 3 quarters of them died. They were so worn out that those still alive simply moved the dead out of the way (no energy to bury the dead) and kept on digging for farming.

      I got to visit Khazakhstan and meet some of the descendants. Their food and language is a time capsule of Koreans from that era/region. It was surreal to see it. The Koreans there are now considered model citizens.

      Sad history I must say. Leaders of Chosun Dynasty (actually king/govt/ruling class) screwed up badly and the people paid the price…


  18. Noy 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Hi, Im from the Philippines. My Grandparents used to tell me stories of the Japanese occupation here. It was well known that most of the officers were Japanese and some soldiers were Japanese as well. But it was also known that the conscripts were mostly Korean. Being so, there were communication problems of orders leading to bungled implementation and often times misinterpreted by the subordinates. As they told me, the atrocities here were caused mostly by the Koreans. Maybe because there were ordered by their superiors. It was not made clear to me.

    The people did live in fear that when a Korean platoon would come to town, they knew there would be trouble. They committed crimes like throwing babies in the air and bayonetting them. They also frequently raped the women. When they were being lead by Japanese officers or if the platoon was mostly Japanese, they felt safer as the Japanese officers did not tolerate these incidents.

    Again, these are stories told to me by my Grandparents.


  19. LolatNoy 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Noy is a troll. There has been a lot of fabrication lately to direct the cruelty of the Imperial Japanese Army on to the Koreans.


    • Chaari 21 August 2012 / 7:57 pm

      I was 8 years old in 1944 and I remember my parents and elders talking about the atrocities of the Korean soldiers – about the bayoneting of babies, etc. This topic would be mentioned from time to time over the years. They would also mention the kindness of Japanese soldiers who would go out of their way to give them food, but also of Japanese soldiers who were as bad as the Koreans. Talk to any old surviving folk in the Philippines and one would hear the same story.


  20. Doug 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    The Soviet-Japanese war was fought in 1939 which the Soviets won.


  21. Ian Buttridge 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    My dad was in a Japanese concerntraion camp in Hong Kong as a child and had much the same to say about the Korean guards (who I think where there from the begining, but I will ask him). It's a sad truth that they had probably been brought up under cruelty from the Japanese occupiers….and it breeds on itself.

    However as to why they were "repatriated" to Russia and why there needed to be an exchange of prisoners, perhaps one of the darker spots of US history after the war. One of my professors talked about how they were rounded up and shipped east, probably to be executed. His comments as I remember (and he was close to tears as he said this)…"Of course we knew what would happen to them, but we obeyed orders"…..The US and British Governments knew, just look at the name of the operation —"Keelhaul". He said he latter found out some GI's had left the door to a church open where they had rounded up the Russian army volunteers and some had escaped…."So I didn't murder as many as I thought I had". He was telling this story as an explanation of Regular German Army attorcities during the Holocost. …."We knew there would be punishment for disobeying orders, and the German army was more extreme".




  22. Manny 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I tend to agree with Noy that most of the atrocities commuted here in the Philippines were Korean conscripts. My Grandpa and my mom who lives in the southern parts of the Philippines used to tell me of cruelties inflicted by the Japanese Army on Filipinos. She tells me specifically that they were Korean conscripts – cruel, uneducated – the Japanese Officers were more humane ( although some of them were also cruel )based on her experiences.

    Just stating the facts of witnesses who were actually there.


  23. RE: Manny 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Manny "stating facts of witnesses.." is called HEARSAY and slightly above garbage in terms of worth…XXXXX

    Thomo notes: As I mentioned before, I believe in the ability to express an opinion but I will not stand invective and will censor it – be polite or be quiet


  24. From Germany 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am


    the "1944" date refers only to drafting. There were lots of Koreans serving in the japanese army from the later 1920s, just as a job.

    And not restricted to "waiters, drivers, semi-slaves…" ec. as some romantic patriots of nowadays phantasize.

    But as regulary soldiers.

    The japanese were very reluctant to admit them to higher officers positions (yep, racism/master race thinking).

    It is known they did not trust them and stories of mistreatment in critical situations (sabotage conspiracy fears) are well documented.

    After training, they put them into service mainly outside their home country – after all, the Japanese military did not consist of idiots.

    Korean higher staff, policemen and officials existed in numbers in 1945. It is a patriotic wet dream to think that 90% of the populace were hidden resisters. Koreans formed about all of the low and middle administration ranks (and 20% of the top ranks), they became the backbone of the South Korean administration after liberation. And the secret police guys just remained in office and continued to oppress their fellow countrymen. They continued the perception of dangerous workers&peasants lower class persons as potential communists. As the japanese were ousted/repatriated in 1945/47, those middle-ranks advanced and replaced the japanese. The spirit remained the same. Just google for the Cheju-do massacre ec.

    The majority was collaborating, and of course the average person just wanted to get thru.

    As a starter, just remember that former state president PARK Chung-He was a japanese officer and a product of the Japanese Military Academy. It was not a hindrance, but part of a web of connections. As usual with education comrades in the East.

    — The Russians had their korean military staff as well, remember comrade KIM ec.

    beat me all ye patriots 😛


  25. Jon Park 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Interesting comments. As I recall, Koreans were taken by the IJA as laborers to many of the Pacific Isles to build fortresses against the impending defense against the US. Yes, many Koreans were forced to serve under IJA with Japanese names given, forbid to speak Korean(during Japan occupation of Korea,only Japanese language was taught in schools as part of the strategy to eliminate Korean identity). If spoken, immediate execution was the answer within the Army. In spite of this prohibition to speak the language, many Koreans were able to identify each other. Agree, Koreans served under IJA in the Phillipine Campaign. Hence, many WW2 generation Phillipinos have a gruge against the Koreans.


    • Alma 5 October 2012 / 2:26 am

      hello Jon, can you pinpoint which part of the Philippines the korean soldiers were? Do you think CHICANO sounds korean, or is it likely a typo? I am looking to discover my ancestry..


    • Alma 5 October 2012 / 2:29 am

      My father’s family came from Hamtic, Antique, Visayas Region. I for one do not have any grudge against Koreas, since I do not know the whole story. According to my mother, she saw children being tossed and caught by bayonnets by the japanese soldiers. But I do not have any hate against the japanese either. I want to know my ancestry; do you recommend anything to help me find out more about the koreans during that ww2? thanks..


  26. sam shin 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    there is going to be a movie about it…its called "my way." Its a japanese/korean/chinese production…I think it will pretty epic to see russian battles and the d-day invasion. It will be released in december 2011. The movie has a higher budget than Taegukgi which was a another good war film to watch.


  27. China 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    I see, there are pro-imperial_Japanese Koreans back in the day. So much for the hatred/resistance/rebellion against the Japanese. This shows how cozy the Koreans were with imperial_Japan.

    Here is the sample excerpt.


  28. Mr Kim from Sydney 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    @China – One person cannot represent a whole country. Not even a group of people can, unless that group is of a notable proportion of the whole population. (I'm not going to try and define what "notable proportion" means, that would be a trouble just waiting to happen. Just take it as you will.)

    Koreans do not believe that 100% of their people resisted the Japanese. (Even though it may seem so from their oft patriotic/nationalistic fervour.) It is known that there were Koreans who – proverbially of course – sold their own people out to the Japanese (친일파 or Chinilpa they are called), and it's becoming a problem nowadays in Korea as we did not deal with them appropriately when the Japanese left Korea. Some of these people were quite rich as a result of their anti-Korean behaviour, and when the Japanese went away, they hopped onto the anti-communism bandwagon. They made quite a good living for themselves despite all their sins. Meanwhile, the men who actually fought for the people's independence weren't compensated enough, and now the case is that the people who came from these Chinilpa parents are rich and those who had true patriots for parents are poor. And it's all iffy now because now you have to ask the question – do the children need to take responsibility for their parents' wrongs? (I guess it happens with Germans as well, their country held accountable for two World Wars and all. Not the Japanese though. They just don't know how to apologise and actually mean it.)

    Mind you, any comments I made here are pretty darn general and there definitely are many exceptions to these cases. (So don't beat me up >_<)


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  30. HamTwist 21 December 2011 / 11:27 pm

    I find it skeptical of the stories about the Korean soldiers under Japanese army throwing babies in the air and bayonating them. I've heard those stories before from the Filipinos, but there seems to be holes in the stories. For instance, most of the Koreans were conscripts who were doing heavy labor coolies and administrative work, and other low function clerical work. The officers were Japanese and they did not trust the Korean conscripts to arm them. It's doubtful that there would be "Korean units", as described above that moved into villages to slaughter Filipinos. Second, how did the Filipinos know they were Korean? The Korean conscripts wore the same uniform, had Japanese names, and they were pressed into Japanese units.

    Now there are ridiculous rumor coming out of China, by Chinese, that the Rape of Nanking was carried out by Korean conscripts. They blame the entire debacle on the Koreans.

    So where are these rumors coming from? I would point them into the Japan's direction. There are many rightist Japanese still active, who spend most of their time, making up false "evidences" to prove their war in the Pacific was a just war. These guys are very dedicated in their jobs and have spent decades trying to convince the world that Japan did not do anything wrong. So you have other Asians, getting fooled by their "evidences" or untrue rumors that are often spread in on-line communities.


  31. Orthic 27 January 2012 / 7:20 am

    It seems far more likely that the man in the photo would have been a captured Soviet of ethnic turkic background or perhaps a member of one of the indigenous peoples of the Russian far east.


  32. Fritz 29 March 2012 / 11:49 pm

    Koreans weren’t drafted until 1944 you know. Until then they volunteered so the guy had to have been a volunteer if the story is true.


  33. tatsuo 27 May 2012 / 8:17 am

    i think this story make up the director of taegukgi to do ‘myway’ movie..
    it is very nice movie that is so much related with this incident..
    please watch it to know the true story behind asian in soviet/nazi war


  34. @Fritz 11 July 2012 / 3:02 am

    Well perhaps it wasn’t a government sanctioned draft until 1944 but obviously there would have been isolated incidents. The date 1944 may most likely simply refer to the point in time where it was either sanctioned by the government or was widely in common practice.


    • Fritz 12 July 2012 / 1:41 am

      In truth soldiers were drafted from all over the Empire, mainly the Home Islands and Taiwan, but Korea was the last to get the draft. They were also the last to get the labour draft, as the Japanese and probably the Taiwanese had gotten conscription and labour draft much earlier.

      There were of course many Korean officers and soldiers from before the war who were volunteers, including in the Manchurian Army and in anti-Partizan roles against the Communists… Perhaps the Korean soldier in this picture was a volunteer in the Manchukuo Army captured at Khalkin Gol…


  35. sackcloth and ashes 15 August 2012 / 4:28 am

    I need to check my sources again, but there’s a story about two Tibetans being captured in Normandy by British forces shortly after D’Day.

    They had apparently wandered too close to the Soviet border with China, and had been kidnapped by NKVD border guards. They were then forcibly inducted into the Red Army, introduced to the meatgrinder that was the Eastern front, and then taken prisoner by the Wehrmacht. They again got forcibly recruited as Osttruppen, and ended up in France just in time for the allied invasion.

    The only way the Brits could communicate with their prisoners was when they found an officer who had served with the Indian Army, and spoke Gorkhali (which was apparently similar to their dialect). The officer’s report stated that the two Tibetans were good POWs and caused their captors no problems, but that they were quite keen to go home.


  36. Steven 23 August 2012 / 3:33 am

    The movie “My Way” was great and tells the story of the Korean and Japanese soldiers in Normandy


    • Alexandra Lomakin 27 August 2012 / 1:08 am

      just watched the movie “My Way” and wandered into this website in attempt to see how much of the story in the movie was true – the movie, which appears to be backed by good historical research, gives a plausible hypothesis on how Yang Kyoungjong could indeed have been reluctantly drafted into three armies (neither of them Korean), but some details in the movie, don’t quite add up. For example it seems more probable, given that he survived that many battles, that he was indeed support stuff (cook or laborer) rather than a soldier. It would be great to know how he was able to end up in the USA rather than being send back to the Soviet Union, which would have probably meant his certain dead – He definitely had a lucky star.
      In terms of the overall historical detail, like the treatment of the Japanese/Korean POWs, the “abandonment” of the Japanese POWs by the Japanese Emperor, the extremely cruel treatment of the troops – not allowing retreat even in the face of certain defeat (German, Japanese and Russian armies alike) it seems real – but again, interested in getting confirmation. Many thanks- great blog!


  37. GMcPhee 23 September 2012 / 11:57 pm

    I too, am intrigued by the pure drama and challenges that met the Korean men who ended up in German uniform. I can not begin to wrap my mind around and comprehend the sheer agony they endured. Amazing. I have been to Japan. As a young man in the US military, and in the late 70’s. I was completely taken aback by their society. It’s very different from American or Western societies. There is a “cohesiveness” that we just don’t understand. That said, I want to caution many of us from casting our voices and making inferences on Japan, or any other Asian culture, from our own perspective. It just doesn’t hold up. What we think of as “wrong” they think of as “duty”. A few years later, I was a college student and had to interview another student, a Japanese Exchange student. In our conversation, he made two statements..one, ” …Americans are very prejudiced…”…and then…”..Koreans are not good..they are barbarians..”. Straight faced. The irony or double-standard didn’t even occur to him…..he was complaining about being the victim of prejudice, and in the next sentence..expressed a prejudiced sentiment about Koreans. This sentiment of the Japanese toward the Koreans may harken back to their long history; Japanese are actually KOREANS themselves; they invaded/migrated /colonized Japan thousands of years ago and pushed-out the Ainu indigenous peoples…”Japanese Indians”….this is why many of their customs and dress are similar. The relationship between Japan and Korea is far more complex and intertwined than my Western mind can unravel….and we have our own complexities to worry about.


  38. Alma 5 October 2012 / 2:21 am

    Hello sir, will you have anything to prove that there are koreans in the japanese army in ww2 in the Philippines, who never went back to korea, but instead, stayed put and started a family, especially in the Visayas region. My paternal great grandfather was said to be a white skin, small eyes, as was my older brother who dies year after his birth, which according to my mother looked like my paternal great grandpa. Almost everyone in my family has small eyes and small built people, and while applying for a passport, I was considered a filipino with foreign sounding name,which caused a delay.My father’s family name is CHICANO from the province of Hamtic, Antique,which i suspect was a typo when great grandpa registered his family. The Chicano family is well-known and once are prominent in this part of Antique. I have always felt a strong connections with koreans and my heart is always leaping with joy being with them, even just watching their drama and shows and joining their festivities. I have been longing to know my ancestry.
    Any literature that you may suggest will be highly appreciated.


  39. latter678 17 October 2012 / 8:40 am

    The majority of Koreans that were conscripted were small time, petty criminals who were to serve in the Imperial Forces as punishment.


  40. Jing Reyes (@jingfrey) 14 November 2012 / 1:51 am

    my father once remarked that some of the so-called “Japanese” doing atrocities in the Philippines during the war were actually Koreans, and the most brutal tend to be Korean. He probably knew what he was talking about: he spent the war years as a guerilla in Cavite then worked with AFWESPAC after the war locating Japanese collaborators. You can’t call him ignorant either: he was a law student in Intramuros Manila, about to graduate, when the Japanese invaded the Phils. Why doubt the ability of some Filipinos to detect a non-Japanese in a Japanese uniform? Presence of many Japanese traders in the Philippines have been on record as early as the 17th century, contact with Koreans have been scant before WW2. I would think some Filipinos who traded often with the Japanese would be able to detect differences.


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