Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Koreans and Japanese after the liberation

The followings are some excerpts from Under the Black Umbrella This part is of interest because it is the part that is directly related to the debate about So Far from the Bamboo Grove . See “
“Advancing Soviet Soldiers, Fleeing Japaneseby occidental-ism.
It is also interesting how Korea people accepted Japanese surrender and how Japanese in the peninsula faced it.

page 139
Tabocco authority officers, North Hamgyong Province
On the morning of August 9, Russia declared war on Japan , and Russian airplanes attacked the city of Chongin. Everything went into chaos. On the eleventh, communication to Seoul was severed. We couldn't get through. We were on our own. Isolated......On August 15 I ran into a classmate and he told me that Japan had surrendered. I could not believe it.

page 142 physicist, North Pyongan Province
The Japanese rule was over? I jumped and ran to Grandmother to ask if it was true.......Life for Japanese changed overnight. In our Chongju are, our people policed themselves, and treated the Japanese well. The Japanese went to live in shelters or schools, and went out during the day to find jobs. We ourselves hired a Japanese woman as our maid......People tried to police themselves and in some areas it worked better than others. .. Much later I learned that terrible things happened in some places, especially in Hamgyhong Province to the north east near the Russain border. Anti-Japanese nationalist let out all their frustrations, and also the Korean communists who had been biding their time , became militants. Cruel guerrilla attacks made everyone nervous. ....After we returned to Chongju, one day as we visited Grandmother in Toktal, a messenger came running, crying our that a guerrilla band was headed our way. He didn't know for sure which kind of band. ...

page 145 housewife/South hamgyong Province
After liberation, the Koreans said my father was pro-Japanese, a running dog because he was so high up. They almost lynched him. Then Russian army came ....

page146 housewife/Kyonggi Province
When the Japanese left, my father-in-law barely escaped with his life. He knew the Korean would beat him, so he fled to the the south, Korean didn't punish the pro-Japanese. It seems, down south, they wanted law and order above all else, and they kep pro-Japanese Koreans in positions of power. The Japanese there ever kept their weapons. It wasn't like that at all in the far north. .....to keep the farms going , they needed skilled people, and I had worked a long time in agricultural technology. They needed someone who knew what he was doing with the water and they said, "We'll forgive you come back, " They kept sending messages and finally I went back.

page 146 housewife/Kyonggi Province
After liberation, I saw a Japanese mother in tattered clothes with a baby on her back, walking along the road. I really felt sorry for her. I also remember the Japanese primary-school principal in Yangju country. he was killed by Korean right after the war

electrical engineer/South Chungchong Province living in Shanghai
There were about five hundred young Korean men in Shanghai at that time. ...When we sang the Korean anthem tears streamed down our faces. We made korean flags out of any paper we could find, and waved them furiously

In regards to communists in Korea, I would add this historical tidbit -

모두 하루아침에 달변가가 되었으며 아울러 잔잔하기만 하던 마을에 사상적인 균열이 일기 시작했다. 좌(左)가 좋으냐 우(右)가 좋으냐 하는 시비와 논쟁이 날이 갈수록 심화되어 가는 것이었다. ….바로 얼마 전까지만 해도 일본을 절대적으로 믿고 충성스럽게 뛰어다니던 사람이 하루아침에 열렬한 사회주의자가 되어 떠벌리고 다니는가 하면, 심지어 만주에서 아편 장사를 한 것으로 알려진사람도 사상가인 것처럼 행세를 했다.(pp. 108~109)

One morning everyone had suddenly become an eloquent speaker. In a village that was once quiet, ideological cracks start to appear. As the days go by the debate on whether the left is better or the right is better intensifies. …. People who had just previously run around showing absolute trust in and allegience to Japan had suddenly become passionate socialists running around wagging their tongues. Even a man who was known to have been an opium dealer in Manchuria started acting as if he were some profound thinker.

So straight after liberation there were people spontaneously describing themselves as socialists or communists. I makes sense that some of them would have formed militias

Hata noted that on August 16 the Americans had bombed several places in Korea.
page 254 Racing the enemy hasegawa

Hata Hikosaburo, a staff of kwantung Army, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General
at the Headquarters in Changchun
page 253 Racing the Enemy Hasegawa