This article is about Park Deuk-hyeon (박득현, 朴得鉉), a Korean communist activist who was involved in resistance activities against Imperial Japan for a decade in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s until he was captured and ideologically converted to the Imperialist cause while in prison. After his release from prison, his probation officer rehabilitated him in a work program and then arranged for him to marry a Japanese woman. He eventually became a leading collaborator preaching the Imperial Way to the Korean people.
However, there are some factual discrepancies between online Korean sources and this article. Born in 1907, he graduated from high school in Seoul. In 1926, he went to college in Tokyo to study political science and economics. But while a Korean source says that he studied at Nihon University, this article states that he studied at Waseda University. As a student, he joined the communist party and was later involved in various labor movements and resistance efforts against colonial rule. The article suggests that he was arrested in 1928 during the Marxist-Leninist (ML) Party Incident, which was when the Communist Party of Korea was destroyed by Imperial Japanese authorities, and stayed in prison until he was released in 1937. On the other hand, another Korean source says he was arrested in 1928, released in 1931, and then rearrested in 1933.
Such ideological conversions (Tenkō process) of socialists and communists were common throughout Imperial Japan between 1925 and 1945, ever since the Peace Preservation Law was enacted to allow the Special Higher Police to more effectively suppress socialists and communists. It may be that the authorities noticed his charismatic personality as a student leader in the communist movement with prominent contacts in the Japan Communist Party, such as Sano Manabu (1892-1953) and Nabeyama Sadachika (1901-1979), as well as in the Communist Party of Korea, and so they decided to flip him and cultivate him as an influencer to reach out to his former comrades in the Korean community.
There seems to be a lot of articles about Park Deuk-hyeon online in Korean, but the information that I gleaned is very limited, as I relied on machine translations to skim through them. Unfortunately, my Korean skills are only at a very basic level, about halfway done through a Duolingo course.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 6, 1939
A former red insurgent is reborn through the familial love of his Japanese wife, who is the embodiment of the ideals of Yamato Nadeshiko
He Set Aside a Decade of Rebellion
His Newlywed Life of Hope
The Quartet of Japanese-Korean Unification for a Prosperous Asia
At one time, this man was a red insurgent, taking a misguided path in life under the banner of materialism, until this rebellious child of East Asia was touched by a strong and intense love for humanity that was expressed by a kind and gentle woman who lived up to and beyond the ideals of Yamato Nadeshiko. Her touch revived him by restoring his soul, releasing it from captivity under the Red Devil’s control. Currently, this man is continuing his activities providing ideological guidance as he preaches the exalted Japanese spirit to patriotic Koreans on the home front. The following is a heart-warming string quartet of stories in the spirit of Prosperous Asia. [Photo: Park Deuk-hyeon (박득현, 朴得鉉) and his wife Mrs. Saitō Fukuko (above), and Mr. Kodera Tadayuki (below)]
The protagonist of this story is Park Deuk-hyeon, 34 years old, an employee of Miki General Partnership Company who lives at 222-2 Hyoje-dong, Seoul. Park graduated from Seoul First High School in 1923 and entered the Department of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University, where he soon fell completely in love with the Red Ideology. He became active as one of the red leaders under the command of Sano Manabu, Nabeyama Sadachika, and others. In 1928, he was imprisoned for the Marxist-Leninist (ML) Party Incident. After ten years in prison, he returned to freedom in 1937, but he still remained a “red pole”.
However, when he returned to his home in Korea, he found that his younger brother, Park Deuk-ryong (박득룡, 朴得龍), had married an ethnic Japanese woman named Tanaka Kimiyo through fortuitous fate. Initially, he looked down at his sister-in-law with feelings of disgust. However, he eventually came to see the lovely truth: Kimiyo not only devoted herself wholeheartedly at her husband’s bedside as he battled a lung disease diagnosed by his doctor, but she also devoted herself with filial piety to her mother-in-law, who did not understand Japanese, in a way that she could not do even for her own child. When her mother-in-law was sick, she nursed her without sleeping at night, and she tried to comfort her mother-in-law and her husband by wearing unfamiliar Korean clothes.
The elder brother, Park Deuk-hyeon, was a red insurgent who had felt hatred towards his sister-in-law, but even he was so moved by her precious love for humanity that his steel-like cold heart filled with emotion for the first time, and he could not help but feel his East Asian heart beating again. For the first time in his life, he found in Kimiyo a true and admirable image of human love. He had just seen an admirable Japanese person in real life.
At this moment, he started feeling ashamed of the coldness of his own ideology, for which he had sacrificed himself working so hard for ten years. He bowed his head in deference before Tanaka Kimiyo, the embodiment of humanity, sincerely repenting for the treasonous path that he had taken in the past. He vowed that now was the time to make a fresh start as a respectable Imperial subject. This was not only an ideological conversion, but also a total reassessment of his ethnic Korean consciousness that had been deeply rooted in the back of his mind.
His new life had just begun. Kimiyo was more pleased than anyone else at this time, but there were still two others who were also pleased, one of whom was Kodera Tadayuki, 64 years old, the head of the Miki General Partnership Company in Takezoe-chō, Seoul [in present-day Jung-gu, Chungjeong-ro], and a commissioned officer at the Seoul Probation Office. Kodera got to know Park through the probation office at the time of his return to Korea, telling him, “You have admirable qualities. I will take you into my company and help you experience a rebirth with a sincere heart”. Kodera provided Park with 100 yen each month and took care of him as if he were his parent. When his younger brother, Deuk-ryong, passed away in Tokyo from his chronic disease, Kodera took care of all the funeral expenses and showed his love to Park, praying for his rehabilitation from the bottom of his heart.
The other person who was pleased was Judge Fujii, who tried and sentenced Park in the past. Judge Fujii served as a matchmaker, introducing Park to Saitō Fukuko, a beautiful 27-year-old Japanese girl who was the very embodiment of the ideals of Yamato Nadeshiko. The newly reborn former insurgent was now excited by the prospect of living a new life in Prosperous Asia as a patriotic fighter. He is now taking charge as the secretary of the Korean Federation of Ideological Patriotism and is touring all of Korea preaching with the same passion as before, but this time to help Imperial subjects apply the Imperial Japanese vow in their daily lives.
“I will serve my nation admirably!”
Mr. Park tells his story about his new family:
On the morning of November 5th, when reporters visited Park Deuk-hyeon at his home in Hyoje-dong, he gave his statements with his beautiful new wife at his side.
“Right now, my heart is just filled with hope and faith yearning to serve my nation as a respectable Imperial subject. I believe that we Japanese people of Korean descent should not get too caught up in the theoretical aspects of nationhood. We should just single-mindedly serve with all our hearts and minds under the reality that is expressed by the spirit of the Imperial subjects. The reason why I was able to rediscover my righteous self as I am today is, first of all, due to the great power of the love of my mother, who devoted her life to us three siblings when she became a single mother at the age of 24, and also due to the great inspiration of my sister-in-law, Tanaka Kimiyo’s exalted Japanese spiritual love for humanity. I am also indebted to President Kodera for his fatherly understanding, guidance, and generous financial support. I hope and pray that I will never fail to live up to the love of my sister-in-law, Tanaka Kimiyo, and President Kodera.”
“What a Fine Young Man!”
Mr. Kodera tells his story:
Mr. Tadayuki Kodera told visiting reporters,
“No, in regards to my feelings toward Mr. Park, I was just fulfilling part of my duties that would have come naturally to any Japanese person. Mr. Park is a fine young man! I think it is more appropriate to call him an Imperial leader of the Korean people rather than an ideological convert. I will do all I can to help him accomplish his great mission.”