Propaganda story of Japanese couple adopting poor Korean girl, raising her to become a “respectable” Japanese woman, and marrying her off to a model Japanese-speaking Korean man (Seoul, 1942)


This is my translation and transcription of a news article from Keijo Nippo, a propaganda newspaper and mouthpiece of the government of Japan-colonized Korea. This has never been republished or translated before, to the best of my knowledge.



Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 28, 1942

Japanese-Korean unification starts with the Japanese language

A Japanese policy-type “married couple”

A model marriage linked by the Japanese language

‘If you don’t know the Japanese language, I won’t become your wife’. Both the bride and the groom were equally insistent that they wouldn’t marry anyone unless they knew the Japanese language. After a secret investigation, it was discovered that the bride and groom were both from Japanese-speaking families. Here is a story about a model marriage in which the Japanese language was tied into everything from the Takasago play in which they performed to the conclusion of their marriage ceremony.

Now, let’s look into this admirable young couple and see what kind of lady this young bride is. The excellent bride is Ohana-chan (23), a housemaid employed by Mr. Sakuji Matsumura, managing director of Korea Transport at 404 Sindang-dong. She was born in Muan-gun, Jeollanam-do. Because her family was poor, she was wearing only a dirty jeogori and chima when she was hired by Mr. Matsumura in February, the coldest month of the year, when she was 14-years-old. Mrs. Misae Matsumura was at first worried about how to raise a girl who did not even understand the Japanese language.

She initially bought her a first grade textbook and taught it to her, showing her unchanging compassion and treating her as her beloved child. Accordingly, Hana-chan, who was naturally clever, picked up the Japanese language at an astonishingly fast pace in less than half a year. She learned Japanese to the point where she was able to do her daily chores without any trouble. As Mrs. Misae taught her how to do calculations on the abacus, even Mr. Matsumura threw up his hands in amazement at this country girl’s unusual, robust memory.

Ultimately, Mrs. Matsumura taught Hana-chan how to tailor Japanese-style clothes, and at the same time, she took her by the hand and instructed her in Japanese manners. This is how Hana-chan grew up not as a Korean girl, but rather as a respectable Japanese woman.

“She is now sewing even silk fabrics with ease! There is no other girl like her. She has become a true Japanese person. She is number one in Japan when it comes to devotion to her parents”, said Mrs. Misae, who praised Hana-chan with narrowed eyes and is now showing her affection as her true daughter. Hana-chan has sent all the money she has earned over the past ten years to her father Chui-wol, who is now a self-sufficient farmer with a farm of 4 tan and 7 bu (4,023 square meters, or about 1 acre). Of course, this is thanks to Hana-chan.

It was last spring when Mr. and Mrs. Matsumura started to have headaches worrying, “Hanako has reached an age where she needs to get married somewhere…” Respecting Hana-chan’s wish that “I will not marry anyone unless he is from a Japanese-speaking family”, they finally found a model artisan, Kenji Mishima (27) of Nagasakiya, a pastry store in Honmachi 5-chome famous for its kasutera sponge cakes.

This world number one groom is a genuine native of Seoul, and he started his career at Nagasakiya in 1933. He is now a fine artisan and one of the most treasured disciples of his master, Mr. Mori.

Hana-chan made a wish to her fiancé saying, “my husband, please be sure to make me a Japanese-speaking wife in our family”. To make this wish come true, their wedding took place as soon as possible, with the groom’s master as the matchmaker and party leader of the patriotic organization as their witness. They will prosper and children will be born to this ‘national policy’ couple. All of their children will eventually become second-generation Hana-chans and Kenji-kuns.

As a final note, both Hana-chan and Kenji-kun received Korean names at the times of their births, but at the request of both of them, their Korean names will not be listed here. Photo: Mrs. Misae Matsumura with Hana-chan.

(End of translation)

Earlier, I posted another article (A Korean father spent 8 years looking for the right prospective husband who only spoke Japanese) in which a Korean father arranges a marriage between his daughter and a Japanese-speaking man. These kinds of articles were apparently placed in this propaganda newspaper to encourage Japanese-speaking Koreans to marry each other in hopes of increasing the population of Japanese-speaking Koreans in Korea. 

This article mentions a party leader of the patriotic organization acting as the witness for the couple. This refers to the Korean Federation of National Power (国民総力朝鮮連盟, 국민총력조선연맹), which functioned as the one and only political party that you could belong to in totalitarian Japan-colonized Korea, spreading the regime’s Imperial Way ideology across Korea and reinforcing Imperial rule over Korea.

The groom worked at Nagasakiya, a pastry shop in Seoul which was famous for its kasutera (sponge cakes). The store is visible in this 1933 map of Seoul:

This store appears to have disappeared from modern Seoul:


京城日報 1942年5月28日