Mixed marriages in 1939 Korea: a Korean teenage girl left home and married the brother of her Japanese best friend, a Korean husband and Japanese wife met at a Tokyo music school and overcame ‘persecution’ from friends and family to become ‘pioneers of Japanese-Korean Unification’

The following two articles from 1939 profiled two mixed Japanese-Korean families: the first one had a Japanese husband and a Korean wife, and the second one had a Korean husband and a Japanese wife. In both cases, the Korean spouses took on Japanese last names, but in different ways. In the first family, the Korean wife simply Japanized her old Korean last name, Yim, into Hayashi, without adopting her Japanese husband’s last name, Se’o. In the second family, the Korean husband decided to adopt his Japanese wife’s last name, Suzuki.

These stories were presumably published to encourage Koreans to adopt Japanese last names in the wake of a November 1939 ordinance that was issued to require the creation of Japanese family names for all Koreans. Japanese-Korean intermarriages were actually relatively rare, since they were generally looked upon with disapproval by the vast majorities of both the Japanese and Korean people, so the articles may have also been published as a way to reduce the stigma of intermarriage in the public consciousness.

Unfortunately, the newspaper page was too faded on the second article to make out parts of the first paragraph, so I indicated the omitted sections with […].


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 11, 1939

A hopeful start toward the unification of the “family system” [1]

She will first change her name, and then join the Women’s Occupational Front with excitement

Marrying into her husband’s family is also Japanese-Korean Unification

Hello Sir, my last name is Yim (林). What Japanese last name should I adopt? Would it be all right if I just went with Hayashi (林)?”

Mrs. Yim and her sister-in-law Kazuyo in the inset picture.

This was the question suddenly posed by a beautiful Korean woman as soon as she entered the room accompanied by an ethnic Japanese woman. This was the police counseling center in Jongno’s Whashin Department Store. She was so enthusiastic about getting rid of her old Korean name that she jumped into the counseling center, riding the whirlwind of joy caused by her freedom to change her last name.

The subject of this story is 19-year-old Yim Chang-shin (임창신, 林昌信), who lives at 2-57 Asahimachi, Seoul. Her companion was her sister-in-law, 29-year-old Se’o Kazuyo. Chief staff member Mr. Maruyama looked surprised as she related her story, her cheeks flush as though she were enraptured by her rosy future. She was born in Pyongyang. Her father was a renowned painter named Yong-hwan (용환, 用煥), who also went by the pen name Ochiyama. She was a commoner, but she had a happy family. Ever since she was little, she had a very close relationship with Kazuyo which exceeded any familial relationship. She has practiced Japanese-Korean Unification for a long time through her family.

I graduated from elementary school, and then later on I began staying at Kazuyo’s house in Seoul when I was 17. Now we have forged an alliance as sisters-in-law. Since Kazuyo is a hairdresser, I have been learning the art of hairdressing from her. I long to become a professional woman as soon as possible,” said Mrs. Yim. Her first hope is to leave the Anbang behind and join the Women’s Occupational Front.

My sister-in-law is helping me get settled into married life. My father wanted me to marry a Japanese man“.

Her second hope is to achieve Japanese-Korean unification through marriage.

She said, “That’s why I want to change my name to Hayashi Nobuko. This morning, I received a letter from my father in our hometown, and he is also determined to change his last name to Hayashi“.

Hayashi Nobuko, Hayashi Nobuko“. She said it over and over again, and then she and Kazuyo looked at each other and smiled, their pure eyes narrowed in anticipation of the future that they both hoped for.

On the evening of November 9th, the day the news of the ordinance was announced, they held an early feast, unable to wait for the New Year’s holiday. [Photo: Yim Chang-shin, who will adopt the name Hayashi Nobuko. The inset photo shows her sister-in-law Se’o Kazuyo.]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1939-11-11


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 12, 1939

A hopeful start toward the unification of the “family system” [2]

He will humbly borrow his beloved wife’s last name

Now is the time to forget the disapproving eyes of the public!

Rejoice little boy, spring has arrived in our family!

“[…] we went to Tokyo, […] and we stayed at Kinshi Kaikan Hotel. I wrote my name in the guest book along with my husband’s, but the hotel owner did not think we were husband and wife at first, because our last names were different. It was understandable though,” calmly recalled Mrs. Suzuki Misaho, a 32-year-old teacher at Jinmyeong Girl’s High School who lives at 133 Gye-dong, Seoul.

In 1930, upon graduating from the Japan Music School in Nakano, Tokyo, she and her classmate, Lee Jong-tae (이종태, 李鐘泰), who is now 29 years old, joined their souls together and encouraged each other saying, “We will keep fighting. We will refuse to succumb to whatever kinds of persecution society throws our way. Let’s dedicate our hearts and souls to become pioneers of Japanese-Korean unification!” Mrs. Suzuki is the eldest daughter of Suzuki Nagahide, a retired military medical captain from Ōdate, Akita Prefecture. After graduating from Akita Teachers School, she taught at Ōdate Elementary School in her hometown for a while. However, wanting to further develop her talent for vocal music, she soon became a student of the vocal music department at the Japan Music School. Back when she was still a child in the fifth grade of elementary school, her teacher in geography class told her, “Koreans and Japanese are peoples who share a common ancestry. They came together following annexation, so they have completely become one body“. Thus, the spirit of Japanese-Korean unification was instilled into her young mind early on. Over the ten years or so that followed, this spirit had always remained alive in Mrs. Suzuki’s mind, even as a music school student.

At that time, Mr. Lee Jong-tae, who hailed from Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, happened to rise up in opposition to a school strike. It was at that time that their souls first came into contact.

There are lots of women in Korea. Why did you have to bring a woman from Japan?” Mr. Lee was subjected to an unbearable barrage of persecution from friends and relatives alike. Needless to say, this persecution only made the couple’s determination grow stronger. Soon, Suzuko-chan was born. She is now nine years old and in the second grade at Seoul Teachers School-affiliated Elementary School. The couple are now good parents to a total of three children. They also have another daughter, Etsuko (seven years old), and a son, Tōru (five years old). Moreover, Mr. Lee is in charge of music courses at Ewha Women’s College and Buddhist College.

Considering our children’s future, we decided to give them Japanese names, but I wonder if I can replace my own last name with a Japanese last name“.

This was the question that had never left Mr. Lee’s and Mrs. Suzuki’s minds. The long-awaited day finally arrived. With the ordinance issued on November 9th, spring suddenly came to Mr. Lee’s household. On the third day of the cheerful family discussions, he said, “I am thinking of humbly borrowing my wife’s last name and calling myself Mr. Suzuki …” Mr. Lee was in a great state of exuberance. [Photo: The family of Mr. Lee Jong-tae, who wants to take his wife’s last name.]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1939-11-12


京城日報 1939年11月11日

『家族制度』一体へ希望の門出 【一】













京城日報 1939年11月12日

『家族制度』一体へ希望の門出 【二】