Korea in November 1945 was beset by rampant inflation, which the Koreans editors of newly liberated Keijo Nippo blamed on ‘Korean traitors’ and departing Japanese who liquidated their property and spent cash ‘indulging in lavish eating and wastefulness’

In my recent trip to Seoul, I visited the National Library of Korea and took many photos of pages from the Keijo Nippo newspaper, which was originally established as the official propaganda mouthpiece for the Imperial Japanese colonial regime, which ruled Korea from 1905 to 1945. Around November 1, 1945, a transformative change occurred: the newspaper was taken over by pro-independence Korean employees, shifting its editorial stance drastically and turning it into a platform for Korean liberation.

One of my interesting finds was this editorial article from November 5, 1945, written by Korean writers describing the rampant inflation that was occurring in Korea at the time under U.S. military occupation, newly liberated from Imperial Japanese colonial rule. The Korean editors appeared to blame the inflation squarely on departing Japanese residents who were liquidating their property into cash and lavishly spending it before returning to Japan, and also certain ethnic Koreans who were helping the Japanese residents by buying their property from them. It seems that, like in post-war Japan, there was a sort of euphoric atmosphere in post-war Korea for certain affluent people who had the means to party and have fun, anxious to forget the suffering and privations of war.

The Korean anger and resentment against the colonial regime and the Japanese people are very palpable in the article, as well as the writers’ hostility against ‘ethnic Korean traitors’, or pro-Japanese Koreans who are described as only interested in personal profit as they shift their allegiance from the Japanese to the Americans. We can also see the reverence that the writers held for the ‘sacred U.S. military’.

We can also see the Koreanized Japanese that the writers use, writing ‘日人’ instead of ‘日本人’ for Japanese, and writing ‘親美’ instead of ‘親米’ for pro-American, but they don’t seem to be consistent with this shift, since both forms are used in the article.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 5, 1945

The Villains Behind the Inflation

The Japanese Must Leave

The Removal of Ethnic Korean Traitors Pretending to be Pro-American is Also an Urgent Priority

During the era of Japanese Imperialism when corrupt governance was the norm, our 30 million compatriots were exploited through coercive collections and transactions by the Governor-General’s Office and other institutions, leading to economic controls and fixed pricing systems. These measures were said to be abolished after October 20th of this year. When the U.S. Military Government issued General Directive No. 2, it encouraged trade and production, aiming for a free market economy in Korea to decrease commodity prices, and it put its efforts into bringing previously sidelined goods back into the marketplace. As evidence of the Korean people’s own trust in the U.S. Military Government, it was stated the previous day by the U.S. Military Government that bank deposits and postal savings had increased by several million yen, and that various commodity prices were expected to fall below standard levels. This directive had been definitively worded to rely on the laws of supply and demand, as was well-known among those in the economic sphere. However, when we actually observe the subsequent state of Korea’s economy, we see that commodity prices continue to rise day by day. With the harsh winter looming, the public sentiment is enveloped in anxiety, and the future direction of the country is uncertain. What is the cause of this?

Eighty percent of Korea’s assets were owned by Japanese people, and it was not just in the form of real estate, but also cash holdings. Furthermore, as Japanese people, they were allowed to freely buy and sell their private property, adding ‘icing on the cake,’ so to speak. In collusion with ethnic Korean traitors, they made an internal agreement to deposit only a portion of the proceeds into Korean banks, following the directives of the malicious government, while the majority of the funds were set aside to be received separately. That is how, while they cannot freely withdraw cash from the bank (no more than 1000 yen can be withdrawn at a time), they can still indulge in lavish eating and wastefulness while in Korea. This is the final malevolence of people leading the country to ruin. Furthermore, because they purchase goods at high prices, they end up possessing only about 20% [of their original assets]. As Korean compatriots, how can we fight against this? The economic impact is significant on lower-level laborers as well as the general public who live month-to-month maintaining households on monthly salaries.

There are only two solutions. One is to expel the Japanese from our country as soon as possible, and the other is to remove the ethnic Koreans traitors who collude with them. These ethnic Korean traitors (pro-Japanese individuals) aim to cheaply acquire or manage property owned by the Japanese. They put on the facade of being pro-American, and with advanced techniques previously used to curry favor with the Japanese, they try to deceive the sacred U.S. military, which came to save us, in order to gain personal profit. If the U.S. military thinks that these traitors are the leaders of Korea, we believe that they will repeat a grave mistake. We heard that the U.S. Military Government has set up an investigative committee regarding the selling of property, so we hope that the Military Government will thoroughly investigate these ethnic Korean traitors and be fully prepared for the establishment of a new Korea.

Who Is to Blame for Price Inflation?

Wipe Out the Destructive Mentality

Know the Righteousness of Building the Korean Nation

Why has the price of a bundle of green onions skyrocketed from one yen to three? It’s not just green onions. The same thing is happening to sugar and daikon radish. As rampant inflation is threatening our daily life, we should definitely denounce the ones responsible for this malicious inflation. Who can deny that the majority of Japanese, who are limited to carrying cash when going back to Japan, are the main culprits? When considering that they can take lots of cash with them when they go back to Japan, it is no wonder why, these days, the Japanese can continue to lead prosperous lives without any discomfort as long as they have cash.

Take a look at the markets in the city. Is it not true that the ones hoarding the most essential food items and goods are exclusively Japanese women? We hear of outrageous stories like green onions, which were said to be too expensive at one yen a bundle, jumping to three yen a bundle before you knew it, and sugar now selling at 60 yen a kilogram. When you tell a vegetable seller that “Three yen for a bundle of green onions is too expensive,” they reply, “You must be joking. Japanese people will buy it no matter how expensive it is.”

Those immoral merchants who take advantage of the Japanese people’s psychology to inflate prices must also be expelled, but whatever happens to the economic order of Korea in the future, these destructive scoundrels who are indifferent to how they threaten the lives of the Korean people must be removed as soon as possible. For 40 years, they squeezed as much blood from the Korean people as they could, and now they are returning to the ruins of their homeland while wiping their tears in defeat, but these are the underhanded means by which they leave economic chaos behind in Korea. Particularly in the southern part of the city and near the areas where Japanese residents live, due to the economic chaos caused by the Japanese, prices are increasing day-by-day. Thus, we must be determined to quickly implement the complete removal of the malicious residents who do not know the “Righteousness of Building the Korean Nation”.


京城日報 1945年11月5日