|Alliance||Axis - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Entry into WW2||7 Jul 1937|
|Population in 1939||23,400,000|
|Military Deaths in WW2||22,182|
|Civilian Deaths in WW2||60,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Korea was declared a Japanese protectorate per the Eulsa Treaty of 1905, and on 22 Aug 1910 it was annexed into Japanese borders with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. While the Korean people resisted, Japanese suppression came violently and swiftly, killing 7,000 people during the major uprising of 1919 alone. Initially, some freedoms were given to the Korean people, but after the the Gwangju Students Anti-Japanese Movement of 3 Nov 1929, many of the freedoms were limited by the occupation government. Punishment for any sign of insurgency also became severe. In 1932, Japan established the puppet nation of Manchukuo in the coal-rich northeastern China immediately across the northern border of Korea. As industries in Manchukuo was developed, Korea saw its transportation infrastructure developed extensively as well, particularly the rail system. In the 1930s, Korea was also allowed to develop its mining and heavy industries in order to feed the growing Japanese military. Korea also provided timber, rice, and fish to Japan.
Generally speaking, Japanese policy in Korea aimed to assimilate the Korean population into the Japanese society. A small number of Koreans held public office in Japan both in local and national levels, such as Pak Chun-geum who became a member of the Japanese parliament in 1932 and continued to serve in this role through the war. In 1945, Korea was allotted 18 seats in the Japanese parliament, though this was never implemented before the war ended. 76 aristocratic Koreans were given Japanese peerage titles (all of whom were charged with treason after the war), while several princes of the Korean royal family married Japanese princesses. Beneath the benevolent façade, however, some Japanese officials in Korea were committed to speed up the assimilation through means of wiping out Korean culture; some of the acts they conducted included renovations of palaces and temples to include characteristics of Japanese architecture, stressing Japanese language education over Korean, and revising texts of Korean history. In 1939, Koreans in Japan and Korea were encouraged to abandon their Korean surnames and adopt Japanese-style ones; about 9.6% of Koreans had done so, and not all of them restored their Korean surnames after the war. The occupation government brought universal education to Korea, which dramatically increased the population's literacy rate in both Korean and Japanese (the Korean language was not banned until later in the occupation), but the school system also served as a media to spread Japanese proganda aimed to legitimize the annexation.
In 1937, WW2 began in Asia with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. By 1939, the Japanese labor force became inadequate as the war in China required more and more manpower, thus Koreans began to be recruited to work in mainland Japan; later in the war, many Koreans were forcefully migrated to Japan to work as laborers. In 1942, Japan's National Mobilization Law was extended to include its subjects in Korea. By the end of the war, 5,400,000 Koreans worked directly toward the Japanese war effort in the civilian sector. In 1938, the Japanese Army opened its doors to Koreans. Korean members of the Japanese Army initially served in Manchukuo in anti-insurgency roles, but their involvement grew rapidly. By the height of the Pacific War, Koreans served all across the Pacific, and many of them fought for Japan with fierce loyalty. In 1944, all Korean males who were not already working in war-related industries were required to enlist in the Japanese Army. Between 1937 and 1945, 242,341 Koreans served in the Japanese Army; 22,182 of them were killed. A large number of Korean women were conscripted as comfort women who served in Japanese military brothels.
By the end of the war, about 2,000,000 Koreans were living in the Japanese home islands. About 1,340,000 of them returned to Korea by 1946 and about 650,000 opted to stay in Japan.
On 9 Dec 1941, the Korean government-in-exile in Shanghai, China declared war on Japan and organized Korean volunteer units to fight the Japanese under Chinese Nationalist and Chinese Communist banners. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union secretly sponsored the Korean Volunteer Army that fought a guerrilla campaign against Japanese occupation in Korea and Manchukuo; this force would later form the core of the North Korean military.
During the final chapters of WW2, Russian troops crossed into Korean territory after overrunning northeastern China. After Japan surrendered on 15 Aug 1945, American troops landed in southern Korea to limit Soviet influence.
At the end of the war, there were 850,000 Japanese living in Korea. Nearly all were deported back to Japan.
After WW2, 148 Koreans were convicted of Class B and Class C war crimes, and 23 of them were sentenced to death. Many of them were guards or officers of guards of the prisoner of war camps who had committed atrocities against captured Allied personnel. The Korean War that began in 1950 destroyed about 80% of the national infrastructure of Korea, which meant that most of the industries and rail networks built by the Japanese during the occupation era were wiped out. The success of modern South Korea was largely the result of post-war efforts, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.
|Chung, Il-kwon||Paik, Sun-yup||Yi, Un|
|Hong, Sa-ik||Roh, Yong-U||Yi, Woo|
|Ji, Cheong-cheon||Tak, Kyonghyong||Yun, Bong-gil|
|Kim, Chang-Ryong||Yi, Gang|
|Kim, Gu||Yi, Geon|
Events Taken Place in Korea
|Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation||9 Aug 1945 - 2 Sep 1945|
|Busan Base||Army Base|
|Chinkai Guard District||Naval Port|
|Daegu Base||Airfield, Army Base|
|Keijo General Government Building||Government Building|
|Yongsan Base||Army Base|
Korea in World War II Interactive Map
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
- » Mein Kampf to be Commercially Available in Germany for the First Time Since WW2 (4 Jan 2016)
- » WW2DB's 11th Anniversary (29 Dec 2015)
- » Communist China to Commemorate Sihang Warehouse Battle (6 May 2015)
- » See all news
- » 902 biographies
- » 318 events
- » 32,452 timeline entries
- » 710 ships
- » 311 aircraft models
- » 177 vehicle models
- » 316 weapon models
- » 90 historical documents
- » 115 facilities
- » 403 book reviews
- » 22,698 photos
- » 270 maps
George Patton, 31 May 1944