Thursday, March 01, 2007

Conscription of Koreans in Japan

The great pictures that Grace put on this entry reminded me of a conference paper I read recently. It was for a short presentation given by a history doctoral student in Cornell, Deokhyo Choi, and the article was titled "Transborder Conscription?--The Syngman Rhee Regime and Koreans in Japan during the Korean War."

In this paper, he discusses how Korean people remaining in Japan after 1945 and waiting to go home were recruited to join the South Korean military to fight in the Korean War. There have been two associations of Zainichi (residing in Japan) Koreans; one is for South Koreans and the other for North Koreans. According to his research, it was the one for South Koreans which lauched a campaign to recruit voluntary soldiers among Zainichi Koreans at the outbreak of the Korean War. The GHQ (the American occupation government) was cautious at the beginning but soon requested to recruit 1000 volunteers who could accompany the landing operations as translators and guides. Choi goes on and shows how their campaign was taken over by the Korean Diplomatic Mission in Japan (KDMIJ), and how they recruited Zainichi Koreans at deportation camps. He shows that there were many confusing orders from different authorities of Korea and the US in Japan in handling the whole issue.

In conclusion, he says that what is important is "the fact that many of them were recuruited directly from the streets of Pusan and Taegu by the South Korean government, -- they were suddenly conscripted on the streets, in the same way as those Korean men in the Maizuru and Hario (deportation) camps (in Japan)."

1 comment:

Sean said...

The topic of ROK's role in conscription is an interesting one. Thanks for bringing this up. Let's spend about 45 minutes discussing it on Wednesday.