Notes: For the best experience, I recommend also reading the first-hand accounts of the Allied prisoners of war to get the perspectives of both sides.
Some links that I found showing the first-hand stories of the Allied prisoners of war in Korea:
In his blog, Professor Akizuki Nozomi of Meiji Gakuin University identifies the former location of the former Seoul (Keijō) Prisoner of War Camp at present-day Singwang Girls High School (신광여자고등학교) at 서울시 용산구 청파동 3가100: (Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/U2dmKCo5U7XvBBTK8)
Below is the route that the Allied prisoners of war took during their march from Yongsan station to Keijō Camp (credit to Professor Akizuki):
Why am I posting this kind of content? Read my reasons here: https://exposingimperialjapan.com/2021/11/nostalgia-for-imperial-japan-and-its.html
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) September 26, 1942
British prisoners of war in disgrace
Alas, their walking pace tends to be unsteady
Having dreams on the first night in the prison camp
British prisoners of war with faces as if they had swallowed lead marched in four lines from Yongsan Station to the Seoul (Keijō) Prisoner-of-War Camp in Aobachō at midnight on the afternoon of September 25. The streets were packed and lined with spectators who had come to see the living spoils of war, the British prisoners of war, walking from the train station along Hangang-daero, turning at Samgakji and then toward Kyōmachi, and then walking from Motomachi 1-chōme to Aobachō 3-chōme.
Protected by military guards and honorable POW monitors of Korean descent, the prisoners of war walked with the same disheveled gait as on the day they were defeated on the Malaysian front. For a while, the crowd gasped upon seeing the varied appearances of the prisoners of war, whose eyes were unashamed and unabashed: neatly trimmed faces, shaved heads, curled up mustaches in the shape of the Chinese character for eight (八), carrying rolled up blankets and military packs resembling rucksacks on their backs, messy clothes and demeanor, stylishly dressed Australian soldiers. “Oh my! You see, we must not lose the war,” the crowd whispered to each other here and there.
The prisoners of war arrived at the prison camp at 1:30 p.m., and a military-style internal affairs team was immediately organized in the camp yard. British officers and enlisted men, and Australian officers and enlisted men were selected in separate groups, and the enlisted men joined their respective groups. Their movements were extremely slow, and in contrast to the disciplined demeanor of our Imperial troops, there was no sense of bravery to be found in the soldiers.
At 2:00 p.m., after the division of the prisoners had been completed with an interpreter, all the prisoners lined up for the solemn announcement and swearing-in ceremony by Colonel Nagano of the Seoul Camp. Lt. Col. Cardell (the highest ranking officer among the prisoners of war) received the title of commander and gave the order “Kiwotsuke! (Attention!)” which he had already learned. Then he saluted Colonel Noguchi with a “Kashiranaka” salute.
Colonel Noguchi, the Director, stood on the center stage and gave the following instructions in a solemn tone through the microphone. Simultaneous interpretation was provided.
“The following is an admonition to you on the occasion of your internment in this Korean prison camp. In the first place, the United States and Great Britain have oppressed East Asia and attempted to invade and overrun a billion people. At this time, the people of our nation of 100 million rose up springing into action. In less than a few months, the Imperial Army, the sons of the gods, defeated the United States and Great Britain with valor and fury, achieving unprecedented results in the world.
This is a testament to the fact that the heavens favor the righteous. You have been defeated by the divine army. It is a natural consequence of your actions. You have lost the power to fight now, but you did face us once. You must well understand that your defeat was by the divine army.
Some of you may still be troubled by your defeat. But since you surrendered to us, you must clear your mind of hostility and follow our rules. You must endure being placed in a different environment and experiencing inconvenience due to different customs. If you do not wipe away your hostilities today and obey us, we will give you the warm treatment prescribed by our excellent, world-renowned Bushido (the Japanese way of the warrior).”
Upon listening to these words, they realized that tides of the Greater East Asia War were turning decisively, since their own British military was defeated on all fronts in the fighting to the south, and their moods thickened with resignation. Dark shades appeared on their faces for a moment, as if they were more troubled by homesickness than by thoughts of their country’s military strength.
After the admonition, they signed an oath that they would not flee and would obey all orders. It was three o’clock in the afternoon when everyone had completed the forms. Then they went to the internal affairs team. Each person was provided with four warm blankets. The prisoners of war assigned to the cooking team worked diligently to prepare dinner. Brown-haired hands began to chop the vegetables that filled the aluminum dishes. There was also a liquor store. The signs here and there were written in both Japanese characters and English letters. Nervous Korean monitors were working actively.
A rare sight: “soldiers in women’s clothing”
Headed to Incheon Camp in silence
Incheon Telephone Report: Defeated prisoners of war numbering (redacted) people, who had no courage in the face of our righteousness, arrived at Sangincheon Station by special train at 2:15 p.m. on the 25th. This marked the first step in their march to enter the camp. From the square in front of the station and from the second-floor windows, they were gazed at by the proud Japanese people. Prisoners of war numbering (redacted) people lined up in four rows and columns under the command of our Imperial Army, remaining silent under the “white flag of silence”.
Some of them were carrying bags with the numbers “B42” or “B52” written on them, and some were carrying backpacks with water bottles and lunch boxes hanging from them. Some wore navy blue and red women’s clothing, perhaps given to them as mementos of their wives, and some even wore red flowers in their hats.
There was also an old prisoner of war who looked like a tourist in khaki shorts and hat, carrying a large trunk with labels stuck all over it. There were some wounded soldiers who were carried away in trucks. This was the pitiful state of the British prisoners of war, who had always been proud of the British Empire with their immorality and cruelty. They marched from the train station for 40 minutes, and then entered the camp in front of the Port train station (Photo: Prisoner of war unit on its way to Incheon Camp)
Three photos of the British prisoners of war: [Top] Director Noguchi’s speech, [Middle] Entering the camp headquarters, [Bottom] Signing an oath with tattoos exposed
Surrender is the only known gesture
A glossy note to be preserved for posterity
The British prisoners of war, who we can only assume had been educated to believe the motto, “If our enemy is strong enough, we should surrender, then our lives will surely be spared,” were sent here with facial expressions that almost looked as though they had never been involved in war. The words and deeds of these captives, who were uneducated and had a false worldview imbued in them, were full of bittersweet smiles from ignorance. Here are a few glimpses that we caught at the landing scene.
The prisoners of war afflicted by ringworms were dangling canvas bags resembling first aid kits on their backs and in front of themselves, clinking aluminum lunch boxes and thermos cups made out of coffee cans clink, and carrying flour bags under their arms. A young military doctor disinfected them with a sprayer at the bottom of the ramp as the prisoners of war with the ringworms walked about. The young military doctor then made a hand gesture instructing them to show him the palms of their hands, but instead they let go of their luggage under their arms and raised both hands. It seems they were only taught to surrender.
Then came material inspection. Every playing card they showed us was soiled and worn. These were the tools of gambling. There were many letters sent from the delinquent young women at the ports. Their blue eyes were darting desperately throughout all this.
The whole city of Busan was filled with hundreds of thousands of spectators. When they saw the wartime Japanese national uniforms, the perms, the Korean chima skirts, and the Korean durumagi overcoats, their blue eyes lit up and they innocently asked their captors if they were charging admission fees.
Chasing the dream of history
Surprised by their conceit
Private First Class Funakoshi, who graduated from the University of Washington and returned to Japan in 1939 with dual nationality, is working as an interpreter for the British prisoners of war. He recounted the following regarding his first time interacting with the British.
This was the first time I had come in contact with the British people, and I was surprised at their strong self-esteem. They must be having dreams of history. The reason why the British and Americans are so confident of their final victory is that they say that the military power of the United States is increasing day by day, while the military power of Germany is getting weaker day by day, which is inconceivable. Among the British officers who said such things, many are of noble extraction. The Australian soldiers were generally pure-hearted.
To the farming villages at harvest time
Sending soldiers home
Reinforcement personnel for bereaved family farmers
(Tokyo Telephone Report) The Army and Navy are very concerned about securing food supplies during wartime, and have decided to give some of the enlisted troops in Japan proper some leave time to return to their villages during the harvest season this year, when a good crop is expected. They are taking some really precious time off to return home while the Army is extremely busy defending the homeland during the Greater East Asia War as well as taking care of affairs for the departed troops. We request that ordinary farmers take this point into consideration and work with an awareness of themselves as a collective of warriors, while not falling into useless dependency.
In addition, the Army and Navy will provide active support and cooperation to the farmers of the families of fallen soldiers.
The authorities of the Army and the Navy will soon issue a memorandum to each corps under their control regarding this matter.
Young Pioneer Corps
Visited Seoul on the 29th
One hundred and forty-eight members of the Manchurian Pioneer Youth Volunteer Corps, who had undergone intense training at the Naepo Pioneer Training Center in Gangwon-do for one month and at the Naewon Training Center for three months, respectively, gathered in Seoul at 10:00 p.m. on the 29th. At 9:00 a.m. on the 30th, a send-off party was held in front of the main entrance of the Governor-General’s Office with Commissioner Tanaka in attendance. They will take the 8:10 p.m. train to Manchuria.
The Youth Volunteer Corps will enter the Ning’an Training Center in Mudanjiang Province, where they will undergo a refresher training for three months before constructing a model pioneer village in Manchuria.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) September 24, 1942
Defeated British prisoners of war
British POWs land in Busan
Arriving in Seoul tomorrow
The living spoils of the Imperial Army
The living spoils of the Greater East Asia War… British prisoners of war from the Malaysian front numbering (redacted) people have finally landed at Busan on the morning of the 24th. This will mark their dramatic first step in the Korean peninsula, the military logistics base of the Asian continent, showcasing our transport team’s globally top-ranked iron wall. In the past, British troops were running rampant in the world, treating it as if they owned it, but once the Imperial Military arose, they raised their white flags and surrendered for their lives. Now, with their defeated bodies, they are clearly showing their defeat to the eyes of the 24 million people on the Korean peninsula. On December 8 of last year, upon receiving the Imperial Rescript, the Imperial Military conquered the Pacific Ocean in just nine months. The gratitude and excitement of the Korean peninsula in receiving the souvenir of victory grew even more intense, and the resolve to complete the Greater East Asia War was inflamed to the utmost.
On this day of excitement, the port of Busan was completely ready to receive the prisoners of war, and everywhere you went in the city there were stories about them. It was the first time that they were seen on the silver screen of the news programs. And although they had heard about the prisoners of war and wondered what they would look like, they were filled with the joy of being able to see them with their own eyes one night later, their imaginings now turned into reality.
At the Arai Ryokan (guesthouse) in front of the station, where Colonel Atsuchi of the Korean military press office was stationed, groups of newspaper reporters, photo crews, and news cameramen came and went, busy communicating with each other so that the excitement of the announcement of the landing of the prisoners of war on the 23rd would be known behind the front lines. The port of Busan was filled with the excitement of the century that night. (Censored by the Korean Army)
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) March 1, 1943
Prisoners of war who arrived in Korea
Demons! Behold the raw remains of the U.S. and Britain’s insidious defeat!
Published on March 8
The day of rejoicing is coming for our 24 million compatriots!
Two great cultural films by Korean Films!
Recommended by the Governor-General of Korea
Directed by Kenjiro Morinaga, supervised by the Korean Military Command and the Governor-General of Korea
Kenjiro Morinaga, Director
Akira Seto, Cinematography
Korean Film Distribution
March 1, all Korean red and white films are released simultaneously