Korean schoolgirls attend a five-day swimming camp at Songdo, Incheon in the summer of 1943, learning to become “healthy mothers of Japan the Oceanic Nation”



Duksung Women’s Vocational School was also featured in two other articles previously featured in this blogthis one from August 22, 1943 where the students make improvised coal balls from coal scraps, and this one from January 10, 1943 where it is revealed that the Principal Fukuzawa of the school is a Korean woman, and her portrait is featured. Apparently, Ms. Fukuzawa loved to show off her students to the press. The July 4, 1943 article calls the principal Tomizawa (富沢), but I think this is a typo, since she is referred this way only once, and it is very plausible that the type setter made a mistake since the character for Fuku (福) in Fukuzawa is very similar to 富. 

The swimming instructor was named Kanemitsu (金光) – there is a good chance this instructor was also ethnic Korean, because Korean people named Kim commonly adopted Japanese surnames incorporating the Chinese character 金. Thus, it is plausible that all the people mentioned in these four articles were ethnic Korean.

Songdo, where the swimming camp was located, is now the site of the Songdo International Business Development District in Incheon.

Again, I would like to emphasize that I do not post this content to glorify Imperial Japan, but rather to combat the resurgence of nostalgia for Imperial Japan by exposing it, as I explain in my blog post here.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) June 28, 1943

We will be mothers of children of the ocean

Duksung Women’s Vocational School students training at sea

[Correspondent Kim Ba in Incheon] A battalion of maidens is training in the ocean. The ocean training of the students of Duksung Women’s Vocational School of Anguk, Seoul started on June 25th and is being conducted in an orderly fashion under the unbroken leadership of the school. The spirit of the girls, who dressed lightly in underwear and took on the challenge of going to the sea, is uplifting the spirits of Korean maidens on the home front.

The rising to action of the Korean boys, who are called to serve on land and in the sea, owes much to the power of their loving mothers. “Wake up, mothers of the Korean peninsula!” In response to this call, Duksung Women’s Vocational School decided to provide seaside education to the students, who would become the mothers of healthy soldiers, under the advocacy of Principal Fukuzawa. They rented a villa in Songdo for five days at a time to begin their intense training. The third year students are to rotate in from June 25 to June 29, the second year students are to rotate in from June 30 to July 4, and the first year students are to rotate in from July 5 to July 9. 

The quiet coast of Songdo is a perfect seaside resort. For three days from June 25 to June 27, the sea breeze blowing from the Yellow Sea made their tanned faces shine, and the results of their training could be clearly seen.

The students first got up at 5:30 a.m. in the refreshing silence of the seaside at the early dawn, awoken by kicks to their beds. By 6:30 a.m., they were done washing up, tying up their hair, and cleaning up their rooms. At 7:00 a.m., they gathered in one side room, and at the command of the head of the group, they picked up their chopsticks and, to break silence of the early morning, shouted with a vigorous voice saying, “Itadakimasu!” (a customary Japanese phrase of gratitude which is said before meals). In this way, they experienced firsthand the simplification of their eating habits. Here, there was a major lesson to be had for this training. There were teachers for all the subjects, but for swimming, they wanted to give the students training to the extent that they could swim even a little bit. After all, if the mothers of the future fear the ocean, how could their children ever stand valiantly in face of the ocean?

Thus, day after day, they train intensely in the ocean.

[Photo: Duksung students training in the sea: photo by correspondent Matsuoka]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-06-28


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) July 4, 1943

Korean women training in the ocean

The flag of the Imperial Navy is flying in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, and the history of maritime men is culminating in a brilliant autumn. The Korean peninsula is now joining the traditional “display of the sea” with the implementation of the special volunteer conscription system of the Imperial Navy.

Although the Korean peninsula has had a history of a couple of maritime experiences in the past, its affinity for the sea has been extremely limited, and only a few seaside people know how to swim. Most of the people have turned their backs on the sea.

The sea is vast and inspires majestic growth and development. Sea battles to build a New East Asia are being intensely fought repeatedly, day after day. The sea! The time has come to send the young people of the Korean peninsula to that sea. In order to send our young people to the sea, all of our Korean compatriots must directly confront the sea. All of them should know the sea, become familiar with it, and come to experience it like it is their front yard.

High enthusiasm for the blue sea. One school for women plunged into that sea. This was Seoul Duksung Women’s Vocational School. The following is a report on the “seaside training” which began on June 25. Let’s hear the footsteps of the young women conducting a military march towards the sea. [Photo: Training Center in Songdo, Incheon for the students of Duksung Women’s Vocational School]

Never be afraid of the Pacific Ocean

Going to the training ground to cultivate the boiling fighting spirit

Now to the sea! The sea! The spirit of living with the sea has spread like a tidal wave to every corner of Korea. Japan stares out at the world’s oceans. The Governor-General’s Office called on the young men of the Korean peninsula to train in the ocean, so that Korean men, who form one wing of Japan, could also grasp the sea.

The Korean Federation of National Power (the one and only political party of Japan-colonized Korea) has also started to promote swimming among the youth, especially among adult men of military age, during the summer training season. In response to this call, the women who are to be mothers were urged to “understand the sea”. In order to nurture the spirit of the motto, “Mothers, never fear the sea, for the sea is the cradle of our children,” the “seaside training” was implemented at Songdo, Incheon with the Duksung Women’s Vocational School, ahead of its implementation in other women’s schools across all of Korea.

Starting with 176 students of the third year on June 25, followed by the students of the second year, and then the students of the first year in this order, every student in the entire school without exception is participating in five day periods grouped by academic year, turning to the sea saying “Well then, we should first definitely study the ocean”.

It is said that it took a great deal of effort to obtain the approval of the parents prior to the implementation of the program. Some parents even formally expressed their opposition. However, they say that Principal Tomizawa’s conviction and enthusiasm as a leader were instrumental in persuading them to go through with it.

She said, “Under the current circumstances, it is essential for not only boys but also girls and children to become familiar with the ocean. The best time to do this is when they are in girls’ school, and it is not possible to do this at home. If the mother of a child who is going to conquer the sea in the future is afraid of the sea, what’s going to happen?” This ardent persuasion was repeated several times.

What does it tell us about the fact that this opposition came from many families of the upper class? It is appalling to hear this kind of opinion from an official who should be leading the way. This project also has the function of making the people leading complicated lives on the Korean peninsula, adhering to the old customs, more prepared for decisive battles, and it also aims to provide guidance in the practice of leading simplified lives in a group setting on the seaside and cooking one’s own meals in accordance with scientific nutritional practice.

Thus, on June 25, they took five cod, one takuan (pickled radish), and other tools in their hands and set out for the training site on the island overlooking the vastness of the ocean.

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-07-04


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) July 6, 1943

Korean women training in the ocean

Building qualities of healthy mothers
Behold the Spirit of the Korean Maiden

Surrounded by pine trees and looking out over the lawn to the sea 20 meters away, this lodging house has two rooms with 120 tatami mats and two rooms with 6 tatami mats. The accommodation consists of two rooms with a floor space of 120 tatami mats, two rooms with a floor space of 6 tatami mats, and a cooking area with a pot that can comfortably cook food for 200 people. Classes are held exclusively under the shade of the green pine trees on the beach, so that students can breathe in the sea breeze and become familiar with the sea without knowing it. The building is used only for sleeping and meal times. 

The mornings are devoted to schoolwork as usual, the afternoons to ocean training, and the evenings to lessons and review.

The fact that training and study are integrated into the daily routine is effective in eliminating the discrepancy between training and study that arises when training is conducted separately from study. The teacher pointed to the horizon of the sea floating in broken clouds and told them, “In that southern sky, Admiral Yamamoto was killed in an airplane in a fierce battle as he was exercising general command of his troops.”

Indeed, the Yellow Sea is also connected to the South Pacific. These words, as they were spoken, burned into the hearts of the young women.

One student said, “Teacher, it’s almost as if I can hear the gunfire from the battles in the Southwest Pacific,” and the pure eyes of the young girls shone with stern looks in their eyes. It is precisely because these words were coming from near the sea that they were so strongly moving to the students. The sensitive eyes of the young girls stared intently at a point on the horizon.

Once the school day is over, the afternoon training at sea begins in earnest. The students change into their swimsuits and gather at the beach in their lightheartedness. The midsummer sun brilliantly burns the skin of these urban maidens with health. Waves come and go from the distant horizon. The waves send a strong scent of the sea. Both hands are raised to the sky and they stand tall.

The maiden’s figure can be seen as the Korean peninsula itself trying to grow strong in the midst of Mother Nature. The naval gymnastics begins with the command of Instructor Kanemitsu, a master of the sea who has a record of saving about 30 lives. The naval military spirit shines brightly in rhythm in the fingertips and toes of the leaping maidens. After this, the girls crawl on their stomachs on the sandy beach for basic training and learn how to move their hands and feet for breaststroke. By doing this, they are finally able to get their whole bodies completely submerged in seawater for the first time by getting wet from the tips of their hands and feet to their heads. Their facial expressions seemed like they wanted to say, “The seawater is so refreshing”.

Then, basic exercises in the water were conducted, and the girls were steadily building the foundation for their swimming toward the horizon. Looking at her students in their swimsuits, bending and leaping full of energy and vigor, the principal was deeply moved. “If you showed this to your grandmothers, they would be stunned,” she muttered.

Indeed, the war had forced previously secluded Korean women to leap into the open air and then into the sea in a two-step jump. The world that the Korean women had previously known was nothing but the ondol (traditional Korean underfloor heating) of their homes and the square sky that they saw looking through their windows.

Now that the Korean woman was informed that there were green fields, factories, and an ocean, she jumped into that ocean, and now she is a Korean maiden who wants to swim in the ocean to claim it as her own. This is a world apart when you think about it. This is where the qualities of a healthy mother are created.

Instructor Kanemitsu spoke with great urgency, saying “I was surprised to hear that there were students who did not know anything at all about the sea. It would be better for them to still be afraid of the sea”. Of the 170 students, only two or three could swim. In other words, only two or three in the entire school were truly capable of using their swimming skills for practical purposes.

The memory of the drowning of a female teacher’s student at a certain national school in Pyeongnam, which was reported to the world as an expression of the beautiful spirit of sacrifice, is still fresh in their minds. A few days ago, there was also a similar incident at a certain girls’ school in Seoul. Although we could not help but shed tears of joy at the sense of responsibility that the female teachers felt in their single-minded determination to save the children without any thought of the consequences, something was missing.

Why couldn’t the female teacher save her student from death? In her ability as a female teacher in wartime, was she equipped with the knowledge and ability to deal with water? We cannot deny the feeling of regret thinking, if only the teacher had been trained in the water. And for the Korean women who will soon be sending their older brothers and sisters, or even their children out to sea, “training in the sea” is a pressing and urgent task.

Some of the maidens were a little hesitant when they were first exposed to the seawater, but they were guided by Instructor Kanemitsu and the energy of their friends, and they were a splendid example for the Korean peninsula as they went into the seawater.

The maidens splashed happily in the ocean as they spread out in three directions. A steamer was sailing on the far horizon. The maidens were surprised and delighted as they said “A boat! A steamer!” and waved their healthy hands at the steamer.

[Photo: Female students studying academics in a pine forest by the seashore.]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-07-06


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) July 7, 1943

Korean women training in the ocean

Maidens, become familiar with the ocean
You are to become mothers of Japan the Oceanic Nation, bearing the burden of the next generation

The rising interest of the Korean peninsula in the ocean has led to the implementation of “ocean training”, and now Korean compatriots are making cool splashes in every corner and riverside in all of Korea. Each school organizes “ocean training” as part of its summer training program, and it is a joyous occasion for both younger pupils and older students. The teachers who are the leaders, especially those directly in charge of swimming instruction, are requested to pay close attention to its implementation.

Do not be afraid of the water. Do not hesitate when you see the ocean. We, the people of the Korean peninsula who are a part of Japan as a maritime nation, must become familiar with the water, become accustomed to the sea, grow up with the sea, develop with the sea, and be determined to conquer the world.

However, due to ignorance, incompetence, and inattention to the water, the number of drowning victims on the Korean peninsula every year is said to number in the thousands. It is really a lamentable story when we consider the demand to maximize human resources as much as possible.

The maidens who have been leaping like young sweetfish in the sea are the ones who shine in the wind that blows from the blue ocean. Bathed in the tide and drenched in sunlight, these maidens are like the apostles of good health.

Instructor Kanemitsu brought these maidens ashore and stood on the white sand to give them a talk. 

“You must be bold but careful in the water. You should be most careful not to be careless just because you think you can swim a little. Everything should be done with justifiable bravery. It is a very dangerous thing to change into a swimming suit in the heat of the day and jump into the water with a thump. One should not neglect the exercise of flexing all the joint muscles of the body, and the little time and attention required to wet one’s head at the water’s edge, immerse the whole body in the water, and then venture out into the water. Especially when swimming in rivers, these exercises must be strictly observed, or a terrible tragedy may result. Students must thoroughly remember the special characteristics of rivers, namely, the rapid changes in the slope of the water bottom, the difficulty in learning the nature of the flowing water, and the fact that it is easier to be careless in the environment surrounding the river than in the sea.”

Instructor Kanemitsu spoke in detail about these essentials, and showed his parental love for the “training in the water” that is now being rolled out in all of Korea. Oh, students of Duksung Women’s Vocational School, you have a good instructor. Rest assured, study the sea thoroughly, take hold of the sea, and acquire the qualities of healthy mothers of the Oceanic Nation.

After coming out of the sea, the maidens appeared on the shore with drawing boards and paints. They began to learn drawing and painting. They painted seascapes while dipping their feet in the seawater. The composition was in a blue color for the blue sea and in a green color for the green pine forest. A sailing ship with a cool breeze was painted on the blue sea, showing the white sail gliding through the sea.

The sea is my mother’s bosom,

Waves lapping in abundance,

The waves support me as I dive in,

The scent of the pure tide,

Whispering ripples,

Oh, how enraptured I am,

Embraced by great love,

The sea is my mother’s palm,

Here I am nurtured, here I am taught,

The strength to support the Japan of tomorrow,

I, too, shall be nourished.

Beautiful poems flowed from the hill in the distance. This was an impromptu poem written by a student who was using a paintbrush on the hill.

Such a bright and vigorous “training of the sea” is performed in the most educational and training way by the female students who are new to the sea. The systematic, step-by-step training for swimming, the vivid knowledge learned in the sea breeze, and the social skills fostered by the discipline of group life are all of great benefit.

Thus, the girls learn to swim from a minimum of 10 meters to 60 or 70 meters. In addition to the iron rule of not going beyond the red light, those who can swim well are given a test swim to a diving board covering a pure swimming distance of 6 to 10 meters from the shore, and then to a diving board covering a pure swimming distance of 40 meters from the shore.

The instructor swims with the swimmer by his side, admonishing and guiding them by saying “Slowly! Your hands and feet should move naturally…” as the students gradually approached their goal. We can now only imagine the beauty of their flushed cheeks as the maidens reached the diving board and placed their bodies against the pillars.

Thus, the victory of the “Women of the Oceanic Nation” was valiantly achieved as a result of their training, and the words, “healthy mothers are not afraid of the ocean”, were shouted out in high spirits.

[Photo: Water polo training]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-07-07


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京城日報 1943年7月7日