In 1943, ethnic Korean school principal says Koreans lack work ethic and can’t handle the slightest hardship, uneducated Korean mothers are reluctant to send their children to the workplace


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo), January 10, 1943

Reaction to “Hiring Koreans in the Workplace”

As already reported, Governor Koiso’s suggestion that “more Koreans should be employed in the workplace” has aroused reactions not only among businesspeople who have heard these words directly, but also among general industrialists, educators, and others. Let’s take a look at a representative sample of some of these voices speaking about every facet of the issues related to the employment of Koreans.

The Key is Good Guidance

Mr. Matsumoto, President of Kinren

At a recent meeting, the Governor said that he would like us to use Koreans as much as possible, but at my place, half of the directors of the All-Korea union are hiring Koreans, and almost 90% of the general employees working here are Korean. In addition, every year we hire about 40 new graduates from vocational schools and about 800 new graduates from secondary schools, so of course I agree with the Governor.

From my experience, it is true that the Korean people have many faults, so we cannot use school graduates as they are, but I think we should kindly correct their bad points and use them. At Kinren, those who graduated from vocational schools are hired as directors and those who graduated from secondary schools are hired as general employees. Within one year of joining the company, new hires are always interned in the union’s training center (dojo) to train. For this purpose, we have set up a dormitory and classrooms in the premises of Kinren that can accommodate about 250 people at one time, and when necessary, we also use the dormitory for employees’ bachelors for training.

Graduates from the vocational schools who are training to become directors are sent to this dojo for four months, and general employees are sent to this dojo for one or two months. In addition to the morning assembly, in which they perform the ritual bowing and praying towards the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and recite the Imperial Subjects’ Pledge, they are given the opportunity to perform labor service, from wiping down their own rooms, corridors, lavatories, and dining rooms to cleaning the premises and sometimes even sweeping the streets, in order to instill the spirit of labor in them.

Then, after giving them the desire to do their day’s work well, they are given lectures on the National Identity and practical apprenticeship to thoroughly develop their spirit. In the chorus of the event, they beat ritual drums that resonate in their sincere hearts. We are devising appropriate ways to make the consciousness of the Imperial people and the spirit of hard work resonate deep inside. In any case, Koreans can be of great use if they are trained by those who use them, so I think the Governor’s words are especially meaningful during wartime. (Photo: Makoto Matsumoto)

Abandon Perverse Habits

by Ms. Fukuzawa, Principal of Duksung Women’s Vocational School

The words of the Governor-General are very meaningful to us, especially in Korea, where there is a shortage of manpower for “wartime service in the workplace” and where there are more idle people than in Japan. As a Korean person myself, I believe that we must respond to his words by abandoning our usual leisurely attitude, consider our position, and rush into the workplace with a battlefield spirit this autumn.

Until now, there have been many aspects of the Korean people’s character that have lacked a work ethic. Even if they had a job lined up after graduating from school, many of them would just hang around instead of getting a job. This was partly because of their own mindset, but also because of the tendency of uneducated mothers to be reluctant to send their sons and daughters to the workplace.

In addition, once they found a job, they were unable to persevere at the slightest hardship due to their lack of training in enduring suffering, and in the end, they were disliked by their employers and lost the opportunity to work. However, now is not the time to be so complacent. We need to break down all their faults and perverse habits and make sure that each person is willing to work at a workplace that suits them, even if it is a small job.

On the other hand, from the standpoint of building the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, I hope that the people of Japan will not pick at every little difference in customs and habits, but will embrace them warmly and guide them so that they can work as Imperial subjects. I believe that if Japanese and Koreans truly unite as one in the workplace, we will be invincible in finishing the war. (Photo: Principal Fukuzawa)


Reddit Link: In 1943 Japan-occupied Korea, ethnic Korean school principal says Koreans lack work ethic and can’t handle the slightest hardship, uneducated Korean mothers are reluctant to send their children to the workplace : korea (

京城日報 昭和十八年一月十日