Seoul police busted some British and American residents in early 1942 for trying to buy the book ‘Korea of the Japanese’ by H.B. Drake, and a deported American was discovered to have sold ‘Banzai!’ by Parabellum to a Jongno bookstore, allegedly uncovering an ‘American conspiracy’ to poison Korea

This is an article from December 1942, and it particularly stands out for its especially anti-American and anti-British messaging. It is part of a series of articles written to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Pacific War against the United States, which began with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th local time (December 8th Japan time) in 1941. Setting aside the hateful content, this article actually provides some interesting look into two English books which the colonial authorities considered so threatening, they explicitly warned the entire country about them through this article. Fortunately for us, these two books are available to download for free online, so I’ve provided the links to the relevant pages at Gutenberg Library and Internet Archive below.

The first story is about an American who was deported from Korea in the wake of the outbreak of the Pacific War, but before leaving, they sold off a bunch of books to a bookseller in Jongno, Seoul, including ‘Banzai!’ by Parabellum.

The second story is about multiple British and American people who were caught by police committing the ‘crime’ of trying to buy ‘Korea of the Japanese’ by H. B. Drake at a bookstore in Jongno, Seoul.

I highly recommend reading ‘Korea of the Japanese’, which provides an interesting glimpse into 1930 Korea from the perspective of a British writer. Be warned, however, that the author comes across as a condescending, entitled English prick (“I became an ardent champion of imperialism, of strong and ruthless Government, of the white man’s burden.” – book p. 142, PDF p. 193). I struggled to understand why the colonial authorities hated this book, since the author makes many statements which are actually supportive of Imperial Japan’s rule over Korea (“Left to themselves the Koreans would rot … No nation, however insignificant, however mean its contribution to mankind, can be allowed to fall into neglect and decay. And this is the essential justification of the Japanese rule in Korea.” – book p. 148, PDF p. 199). I’m speculating that, perhaps, it’s because the Japanese Emperor was not mentioned reverentially enough when describing the Emperor’s portrait (book p. 25, PDF p. 52), perhaps because it has some mild criticisms of colonial Korea’s educational system (book p. 136, PDF p. 187) or perhaps because it criticized Eastern thought as backward (“Principles which are commonplaces in the West, but not in the East … that without order there can be no liberty; that liberty is not the birth of a moment, but of the labour of generations. Commonplaces, I repeat; yet to the Korean mind paradoxes and contradictions.”  – book p. 145, PDF p. 196).


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) December 4, 1942

They extended the evil clutches of their conspiracy until the day they left the Korean peninsula

Japanophobic books were found in the city

Shut out the United States and Britain!

One year since [the start of the Pacific War on December 8th]

Culture Edition

The entirety of the so-called culture that the American and British residents of the Korean peninsula were consciously inflicting on Korea was a conspiracy and a trick. Even the everyday language that they used contained a liquid juice that poisoned their victims, as if they were sprinkling a numbing magical fluid from a 35 millimeter film reel. Without American films, there would have been no film industry on the Korean peninsula. British-American culture is a monster of mental aggression, as demonstrated by the fact that those who failed to thoroughly read American and British writings were excluded from the ranks of the intellectuals. War was declared on December 8th when the U.S. and Britain were ‘BANG!’, hit on the head with a fiery iron hammer, and from that moment on, a truly heroic, constructive song began to be played on the Korean peninsula.

But speaking of an earlier time, on the day the Americans and the British made their departure, they were not leaving their hands idle. All the way up until the day they left, they did not forget to keep planting the roots of their conspiracy into the young Koreans who had soaked in their culture for decades until it had seeped into the marrow of their bones. Here is an example…

On the [redacted] day of the [redacted] month, Mr. Masaki, head teacher of the National School attached to Seoul First Normal School, found a dangerous, explosive book among the many books sold off by the deported Americans at a bookstore in Jongno. It was an English book on which the word “Banzai” was literally printed in Japanese, but its content was a series of provocatively written fanciful stories about a war between Japan and the United States. The author’s name was written on the front cover as “Parabellum”, and below it was an explanatory note: “This book was written mainly based on German publications from 1909,” which was a little eyebrow-raising.

Immediately after the Russo-Japanese War, an American military journalist, frightened by the real strength of the emerging Japanese power and motivated to overthrow Japan as soon as possible, plotted to provoke a war between Japan and the U.S. and isolate Japan by telling the whole world, including all the Asian peoples excluding the Japanese, that “Japan must be feared”, which was a Yellow Peril idea. This shows the traces of a conspiracy. It also contains a careful plot to separate Japan from Germany. The book was published by Stanley Paul & Co. of London, England in an attempt to undermine the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of the time. Furthermore, the preface of the book states, “This preface is not intended to provoke the peoples of the two countries. It is nothing more than a preparation for the hope of peace.” But from the first page of the main text, the author refers to Japan as a “cursed yellow monkey,” a vile insult that could not have been expressed by an Englishman of the time, so the author reveals himself to be an American.

It is an undeniable fact that the entire text of the book was written by an American who regarded Japan as a virtual enemy. It is also clear that the author’s name, “Parabellum,” is a pseudonym for “parable”. Furthermore, what cannot be overlooked is the fact that the publisher of the book was Stanley Paul, a well-known publisher of Christian Bibles, and the book was probably distributed around the world by missionaries along with the Bible, which is a shocking fact. The book starts with the Japanese military occupation of the Philippines, then the Japanese people living in the U.S. all take up arms to start an uprising. The description of what happens until the invasion of the West Coast is written in all-out vulgar and abusive language against Japan. The shape of the font on the last line is changed to incite, “The yellow danger grows ever greater.” Interestingly, the author also warns that “Japan will surely take us off guard by attacking us during the holidays,” so what does the author think of our Navy’s successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in the early stages of the Greater East Asia War?

But how many billions of people around the world have misjudged Japan as a result of this book? What will be the result of this terrible poisonous book sold by the American to the bookshop in Jongno as he was leaving the Korean peninsula? They did these things with this goal in mind from the very beginning. Fortunately, the book was purchased by Head Teacher Masaki and was kept deep inside his library since that day, which was a fortunate thing for the Korean peninsula.

This was not the only conspiracy plotted by the deported Americans and British. There is a second story relating to a detestable cultural conspiracy. On the [redacted] day of the [redacted] month, a few days before deportation, the enemy Americans and the British abused the free lifestyle that was allowed even for them by Japan’s generous arrangement, and they almost purchased a certain book in Jongno. Their goal was not achieved due to the fact that the scene of the crime was discovered through an astute inspection by the police. That book that they wanted was the Chrysanthemum Edition of “Korea of the Japanese,” a 225-page book published by William Clowes and Sons in London in 1930 and written by an Englishman named H. B. Drake. At the time, while the author was on his way to China and Manchuria for a tour, he visited his fellow countryman who lived in Korea. During his stay, he visited all of Korea, observing the situation in various parts of the country. It seems that he wrote the book immediately after he returned home, and he describes the footsteps of his meticulous research into modern Korean culture, customs, topography, mountains, humanity, geography, and so forth.

In addition, the 24 photographs, including the cover photograph, were painstakingly taken to provide evidence of the author’s travels around the country, and the author’s spying activities were clearly evident even in the clear explanations on the back of this published book.

We do not know when this book infiltrated Seoul, but we cannot help but be horrified by the past infatuation with the U.S. and Britain that was quite prevalent among the people living on the Korean peninsula, when we imagine what was going on inside the minds of some of our enemies who wanted to purchase this book. It was not long before the Americans and British, who had poisoned the Korean peninsula with their voiceless conspiracies, subsequently disappeared from this corner of East Asia, and Righteous Japan passed judgment on a culture that only those conspirators could feel proud of. [Photo: English-language books “Korea of the Japanese,” which the enemy Americans and British people tried to carry away in a last ditch effort, and “Banzai,” which they left behind to promote their “invincible” conspiracy.]




京城日報 1942年12月4日