Imperial Japanese security chief broadcast a speech to all patriotic groups in Korea, sternly warning Koreans against spreading fake news, including a bizarre rumor about a newly born baby cow with a human head which prophesied that Japan would win the war by September 1944, and then promptly died

This article is a speech that the Imperial Japanese colonial security chief broadcast in 1944 to all the patriotic groups of Korea, which all Koreans belonged to. Each patriotic group leader would have assembled all their group members together for a mandatory regular meeting, and turned on the radio at 8:00 p.m. to force them to listen to this stern speech, warning them against spreading fake news. Basically, most Koreans were forced to listen to this threatening speech.

One very bizarre rumor that this security chief mentions is about a newly born baby cow with a human head who said that Japan will win the war by September 1944, and then promptly died. The name of the baby cow was Geon (건/件), named after the Chinese character 件 which consists of the human radical 人 and the cow radical 牛. Geon’s name was invoked in debt acknowledgment documents, perhaps to swear in the name of Geon that the debt will be repaid, since Geon was supposed to be a truthful creature. This rumor apparently spread across Korea and even into mainland Japan.

Patriotic Groups (JP: aikoku-han, KR: aeguk-ban, 愛國班) were neighborhood cells which functioned as the local arm of the Korean Federation of National Power (国民総力朝鮮連盟, 국민총력조선연맹), the single ruling party of colonial Korea. They typically consisted of a few households, led by a Patriotic Group leader, who normally acted as a mini-tyrant micromanaging the lives of everyone within the Patriotic Group. That included things like rationing food and goods, enforcing mandatory State Shinto prayer times and shrine visits, ‘volunteering’ laborers upon the colonial government’s request, arranging marriages, holding mandatory Japanese language classes, spying on ‘ideological criminals’, etc.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) April 11, 1944

Don’t get carried away by rumors!

An enemy plot more terrifying than military force

Broadcast to the regular meetings: Proclamation by Mr. Yagi, Security Section Chief

At 8:00 p.m. on April 10, Chief Yagi, the head of the Governor-General’s Office Security Section, made a broadcast from the Seoul Broadcasting Station to the regular meetings of the Patriotic Groups, emphasizing the main points as follows: ‘Don’t get carried away by false rumors!’

Security Chief Yagi

Some may think that there is no need now to repeat the statement ‘Don’t get carried away by false rumors!’, but looking at the recent situation in Korea, we see that trivial ‘false rumors’ are flying everywhere and spreading. People are being misled by them and committing various unethical acts that break the wartime posture without a care in the world. This is the reality of the situation.

Many have been punished for this. The enemy is not confined only to those who take up their guns and challenge us to war. Those who spread rumors and mislead the public are also clearly the enemy. They are enemies to be feared more than any military force, for nothing destroys the morale of the people more quickly than rumors, and nothing inhibits military morale more quickly than rumors. Rumors are a formless and sharp weapon that can be used in ideological warfare, because they confuse people’s thinking and destroy their readiness to cooperate in war, thereby seriously affecting the completion of the Holy War.

Our empire is poised to be absolutely invincible in armed warfare, and there is no need whatsoever to worry. The key to victory in future battles will depend solely on the victory or defeat of the people in ideological warfare and war production.

However, when it comes to the people’s attitudes toward this ideological warfare, regrettably, there are still some points that cannot be said to be perfect. As I mentioned earlier, the reality is that there are many rumors being spread throughout every part of Korea by all social classes, so it cannot be said that the entire nation has a firm belief in victory.

They are carelessly saying things that anyone would consider to be false rumors that are far removed from the truth. Based on these false rumors, they hoard and panic buy in a hurry, they are reluctant to offer their goods for sale, or they hide their goods.

It is truly regrettable that there is no end to the number of individualists who are only concerned with their own well-being. Those who take advantage of the Japanese people’s relaxed and trusting nature to spread false rumors in an attempt to disturb their thinking should be called national traitors, working as pawns of the enemy, leading their thoughts into confusion, and sabotaging the Greater East Asia War. These are unforgivable acts at a time of national emergency in the autumn.

One of the most boring and trivial recent rumors is this: “There was once an animal named Geon (건/件) which had the body of a cow and the head of a human. When it was born, it said that the war will end with Japan’s victory in September, whereupon it immediately died. Geon would never tell a lie. Writing ‘Just like Geon’ on a debt acknowledgment form is never a mistake. Geon made a vow with certainty, so the war will probably be over in September, just as Geon said.” That rumor spread all over the place, so that Geon was allegedly born in Busan, then born in Wonsan and Seongjin [now Kimch’aek, North Korea]. Even in mainland Japan, Geon was also born in Nagasaki and Kagoshima. This rumor spread so much, that there were people writing letters about it.

The feeling that the war will be over comes from the wish that it will be over soon. They will feel a sense of relief, and their hearts will start to relax. However, in the worst case scenario, if the war is not over by September, and their expectations are not met, it can be said that it is not impossible for people to feel disappointed and even pessimistic about the war. In some regions, there is a saying, “This year is a good harvest year, but there will be an epidemic of bad diseases. To avoid this, you should immediately make and eat adzuki bean porridge.” This superstitious rumor has caused a great deal of confusion among the people, who were panic buying glutinous rice and adzuki beans.

These are just trivial examples, but the results are truly horrifying. If the enemy were to spread counter-propaganda about daily life and the war situation that sound like the truth, and people fall for it and start spreading false rumors, then it would be a serious problem. Even if this is not the case, the number of groups buying goods will suddenly increase due to such rumors as “matches will run out,” “the price of cigarettes will rise,” “clothing will be placed under a ticket rationing system,” and “miso and soy sauce will be rationed”. What if this is the enemy’s plot?

Even if it is not a plot by the enemy, to be misled by false rumors and do such a thing on one’s own is clearly to fall into the enemy’s hands. If the crafty Americans and the British knew about this, they might stick out their red tongues in the shadows and punish the honest Japanese with their own hands. Each and every citizen must be very vigilant.

No matter what false rumors fly, no matter when a shortage of goods may come, as long as we have the Japanese spirit and the Yamato spirit, we will not be misled by this and we will not complain or grumble. Right now, we must only think of winning the war. If only we cooperate in every way possible to win the war, that is all that is necessary. Those who forget to cooperate in this way and act in their own self-indulgent way are national traitors who have broken the war posture. It is safe to say that they are enemy people, and they must be dealt with firmly.

What will be left after defeat in war? We will only become slaves of the enemy. War is now approaching closer and closer to us. It is literally dreadfully intense, and the generals on the front lines are engaged in a bloody struggle to the death. Our relatives have been honorably called to fight for the sake of their Emperor, for the sake of Imperial Japan, and they are fighting with a grim determination to win this war, even if their bodies are shattered to pieces.

We who defend the home front must win. If we forget the feelings of these generals during this war and are misled by false rumors into committing immoral acts, we will not only be sorry to the generals on the front lines, but we will also completely lose the war on the home front.

Let me repeat this again. The enemy is desperately waging ideological warfare. We must be careful not to fall for this and become national traitors ourselves.



京城日報 1944年4月11日