Continuing with my ongoing exploration of the old newspaper archives from 1945 Korea that I checked out at the National Library of Korea in September 2023, I decided to take a closer look at some more anti-Japanese articles in a Japanese language newspaper that was published after being taken over by a group of Korean independence activists. Around November 1st, 1945, Korean employees overthrew their Japanese bosses at Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo), the colonial era newspaper that had served as the main propaganda newspaper for the whole of colonial Korea from 1909 to 1945. The Korean independence activists subsequently continued the publication of this newspaper in Japanese with an avowed Korean nationalist editorial stance until December 11th, 1945. As the Korean employees of Keijo Nippo explained in their message to the readers, this was a temporary measure, undertaken while Korean typefaces were being prepared for eventual use.
These are a few short articles from November 1945 that give you a rough feel of what the attitudes of Koreans towards the Japanese were like back then. There was apparently a feeling that the wealth that the Japanese people amassed during the colonial period was ill-gotten, so the editors looked on with disapproval at any attempt by the Japanese to sell their things for cash to take back to Japan. They even viewed any Korean who helped the Japanese liquify their assets as traitors, naming one individual in particular to publicly shame (Lee Bok-dong), whose name is also written on the signage above the door in the news illustration of Tanaka store. There is also a report about Japanese people who were attempting to illegally travel from Japan into Korea. Next to that story is a short announcement about the release of Park Yeol, a Korean independence activist who was jailed in Japan for attempting to assassinate the Emperor. He is a controversial figure, as his political affiliation changed many times from anarchism, pro-Japanese Imperialist, anti-communism after the war, and then to pro-communism.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 5, 1945
The intellectual class should unite with the populace
Do not buy Japanese property!
Lieutenant General Hodge meets with Song Jin-Woo
Lieutenant General Hodge invited Mr. Song Jin-Woo, leader of the Korean Democratic Party, for a discussion that lasted about an hour. Lieutenant General Hodge addressed the Korean intellectuals as follows:
“Currently, the Korean populace is being misled by ruffians, nihilists, and pro-Japanese factions. You should all strive to enter among the masses and make them understand what nationalism and democracy really mean.
I am convinced that all the people support nationalism and democracy. Nevertheless, it is regrettable that workers are not working due to the interference of ruffians, nihilists, destructionists, and pro-Japanese factions.
From a democratic standpoint, we cannot but allow the sale and purchase of Japanese property. However, if Koreans do not unite to buy it, the Japanese will likely leave the property as it is when they leave. Yet, the pro-Japanese factions are colluding with the Japanese, enriching themselves.
The military government does not permit Japanese people to take more than one thousand yen in cash when returning to their country.
If the Korean intellectual class joins the masses to thoroughly disseminate nationalism and democracy and unites to demonstrate the true power of the Korean people, the issue of the 38th parallel, which is a personal opinion of the Director of the Far Eastern Department of the State Department, will naturally be resolved.”
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 10, 1945
“Profile of the Japanese District (3)
‘Mr. Lee, please take care of it,’ ‘Don’t worry!’
‘What is the relationship between Tanaka Store and Lee Bok-Dong (이복동, 李福童)?’ Walking through the Japanese Shopping District, one can hear such conversations in each house. Look at the expression of the greedy old Japanese man guarding the safe in the back room! His heart, insisting on turning every single plate into money before leaving, is the last evil vestige of forty years of exploitation. However, the detestable pests infesting this country are not just these greedy Japanese moneykeepers.
There are also plenty of traitors to the nation who ride along with them, saying, ‘I’ll take care of your household goods.’ And who are those buying up Japanese property? They, too, must be completely driven out. (Illustration: Furniture to be sold off quickly)
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 16, 1945
Illegal Crossings of Japanese to Korea
Travel Ban to be Implemented if Illegal Crossings Increase
While the repatriation transport of Japanese has become significant, conversely, many Japanese are attempting to travel from Japan to Korea. These ordinary Japanese people are being denied landing and detained by the Allied Forces authorities at Busan and other Korean ports.
It goes without saying that Japanese cannot travel freely to Korea. Recalling the times when even we, who were once called Imperial subjects, needed certificates to travel, it is unreasonable for the Japanese to think of Korea as their own territory and attempt to illegally travel for an easier life there because of inconvenient circumstances in their own country. Enduring inconvenience and hardship should be the way for the Japanese to live. On this matter, Colonel Stilwell states that under the current situation, Japanese are fundamentally not permitted to travel to Korea.
Those with unavoidable circumstances must obtain permission from the Allied authorities and possess a permit to travel. If the number of Japanese attempting to travel to Korea increases in the future, a ban on illegal travel in other regions will likely be issued. Once this ban is issued, regardless of the reason, travel for Japanese will become more difficult. Therefore, the Japanese side is urged to fully cooperate with the intentions of the United Nations.
Mr. Park Yeol to be Welcomed
Comrades from Daegu are headed to Tokyo
Twenty-three years ago, during the Great Tokyo Earthquake, Mr. Park Yeol (real name = Park Jun-sik) (47), who was arrested for attempting to assassinate the Emperor of Japan, and since then sentenced to life imprisonment from a death sentence, had been transferred between various prisons. Recently, he was serving his sentence in Akita Prison in Japan. He was released around October 10, following the so-called political prisoner release order by General MacArthur.