Imperial Japan purged Korean schools of ‘pro-American’ professors, abolished Christian prayers, and labeled the English language as the ‘product of the enemy’, expelled Western missionaries (Dec. 1942)

I wanted to share something quite illuminating and, frankly, disturbing from a historical perspective. It’s an excerpt from an article published in Keijo Nippo, the colonial newspaper and official mouthpiece of the Imperial Japanese government that ruled Korea from 1905 to 1945. This piece sheds light on a particularly dark aspect of colonial rule: the aggressive purge of Western influence from Korean educational institutions.

In December 1942, as Imperial Japan marked the first anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, a series of articles including this one were released to rally the nation and stir up anti-American sentiment. This article reveals how the colonial government took over and purged schools founded by Western missionaries, especially those with American or British roots, enforcing a dramatic shift towards Imperialist education. This involved not just a curriculum overhaul but a ban on Christian religious practices and an outright demonization of the English language—all in the name of patriotism.

The schools mentioned in this article, which include the precursor to today’s Yonsei University (referred to as Yeonhui in the text), have survived to the present day. Yet, back then, they were forced to undergo a radical transformation. The article talks about appointing new principals loyal to the Imperialist cause, erasing all signs of Western influence, and instilling militaristic and nationalistic values among the students. English, once a symbol of enlightenment and modernity, was labeled the “enemy’s product.”

What’s particularly jarring is the narrative’s tone—celebrating these changes as victories, as liberations from the supposedly corrupting influence of the West. It’s a stark reminder of how totalitarian regimes can twist education into a tool of propaganda, demonizing foreign ideas and enforcing a singular narrative in the name of fostering patriotism and loyalty to the Emperor. By documenting and sharing articles like this, I hope to keep exposing the actions of this unhinged totalitarian regime.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) December 3, 1942

The Wall of Magic Crumbles

Pure souls now arise!

Rushing towards military education and the Japanese language

A year since the expulsion of the British and Americans, Education Edition

Yeonhui Specialized School was a mission school, a prestigious institution directly affiliated with the U.S. and Britain. On October 1st, the Governor-General’s Office of Korea appointed Mr. Takahashi as the principal. It was a bolt of lightning from the blue on a clear day. The world praised the decisive action taken by the government, and Mr. Takahashi, the new principal, was fervently encouraged. He raised great expectations, crying out, “Oh Yeonhui, how will you be reborn?”

Yeonhui Specialized School was the first temple for worshiping America and Britain. Its campus was designed to be a magical garden that yearned for America and Britain, with pine greenery, colorful green and red tiled roofs, Western flower beds, and English conversation. It was a bewitching gate to America and Britain.

A direct path to America and Britain was cleverly constructed, and each year, a number of young students, envied by others, were easily sold to America and Britain, with money and stylish suits. Standing on the hill of this magical campus, Principal Takahashi could see that the design of the school’s lawn was exactly in the pattern of the Union Jack, which also incorporated the Chinese character (米) for “rice”, which represented America. A professor answered that this was because the founder, Dr. Avison, was born in Britain and naturalized in America. Moreover, it is said that until this spring, a statue of the founding principal, Mr. Underwood, was erected at the center of the Union Jack, aiming at the soul of the Korean Peninsula.

That such a school existed in a corner of Imperial Japan until today will surprise many. Students are supposed to study within the relationship of nation = life = school, yet somehow such a school devoted to America and Britain still managed to exist.

Principal Takahashi hurled five school mottos at the academy. The first school motto was, “Understand the true meaning of the National Body, embrace the essence of the Imperial Rescript on Education, refine your thoughts, expand your insights, and thus strengthen your conviction of being subjects of the Imperial nation,” and the youth became purified. The students of the academy, who had previously been enchanted by the magic of America and Britain, leaped at these five school mottos.

Morning prayers were abolished. Missionaries disappeared. The religious department was dissolved. Professors considered to be pro-American and pro-British were gone. And “Let’s proceed with haste” became the motto among professors and students. A fierce desire to catch up on past delays surged and filled the academy at once. Yeonhui is now undergoing a significant transformation, completely breaking free from the shackles of America and Britain. It’s a new morning for Yeonhui, once an American and British academy and outpost like Singapore.

Let’s turn our gaze to Ewha Women’s Specialized School, the “Yeonhui for girls,” which was once an academy and outpost like Hong Kong. Now, a tatami-floored etiquette room has been established. Sacred hemp is offered at the Kamidana Shinto shrine, and in that room, the tea ceremony and flower arrangement are learned gracefully. Japanese women are also being born here. It was October. Female students, who had once proudly spoken English in their conversations as a matter of principle, awakened to the realization that “the English language is indeed a product of the enemy” and devoted themselves to practicing the Japanese language, boldly performing a Japanese language drama at the Seoul Citizens Hall. One might say it feels like a different era when one thinks about it.

It is said that, at both Yeonhui and Ewha, the Americans implemented their deep schemes by demanding the placement of several professors in exchange for substantial financial contributions from the mission. Similar things were happening under the noble names of love for humanity, religion, and education, with secondary schools placed in all the key cities of Korea: Yeonhui (연희, 延禧), Paichai (배재, 培材), Ewha (이화, 梨花), Baewha (배화, 培花), Chungshin (정신, 貞信), Kyungshin (경신, 儆新), Soongsil (숭실, 崇実), Keisung (계성, 啓聖), Youngsaeng (영생, 永生), and Myungduk (명덕, 明徳). They attracted many young male and female students and actually aimed their venomous fangs at the immature souls of the Korean peninsula. Most of these were girls’ secondary schools, aiming to infiltrate homes by capturing women’s hearts first.

However, all of these schemes have now been cut short. Each school is making a robust advance in the Great Imperial War. Formerly rigid mission school female students are now visiting shrines monthly, comforting brave soldiers in white at army hospitals, and engaging in tennis matches with those soldiers. This is the reality of the Korean peninsula today. All of these can be said to be the spoils of victory at the home front that we won from America and Britain in the first year of the Greater East Asia War.

Severance Medical School also changed its name to Asahi Medical School in that memorable year. What a bright name it has taken! The sound of military training boots is heard in the campus of Asahi Medical School.

Thus, the educational world of the Korean peninsula, having blown away the American and British school atmosphere, will surely become a brilliant exemplar for the construction of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. [Photo = Yeonhui Specialized School students engaged in military education]



京城日報 1942年12月3日