For my fourth post that I am making during my stay in Korea, I am sharing a Keijo Nippo news article about the November 2nd, 1945 assassination of Saiga Shichirō (斎賀七郎), a member of the Ideological Police in Korea under Japanese rule, which I discovered while browsing through the old Japanese language colonial news archives at the National Library of Korea.
For those unfamiliar, Keijo Nippo had been the official propaganda newspaper under the Imperial Japanese colonial regime, which had dominated Korea from 1905 to 1945. Just a few days earlier on around November 1, 1945, the Korean employees had taken over the newspaper from their Japanese bosses, transforming a tool of oppression into a platform for liberation. This article was published on November 5, 1945 and written by the Korean employees of the Keijo Nippo newspaper.
Saiga Shichirō was apparently responsible for the torture, false imprisonment, and deaths of countless Korean patriots. The article describes his assassination as a form of retribution and justice.
It’s fascinating to see how the narrative shifts depending on the prevailing power structure. Just a few months earlier, Saiga Shichirō would have been lionized in this very newspaper, perhaps described as a hero or a martyr for the Imperial Japanese cause. Now, with the tables turned and Korea liberated, the article portrays him as a villain who met a fitting end. This is a clear example of how the Korean patriotic perspective has overturned the Imperial Japanese colonial viewpoint.
Interestingly, a Google search of Saiga Shichirō in Japanese doesn’t yield any information about his alleged crimes, which makes this article even more significant. By posting it here, I hope to make this information more easily accessible, and facilitate a more nuanced understanding of this part of Japanese and Korean history in the online space.
Keijo Nippo (Gyeongseong Ilbo) November 5, 1945
An ideological police officer who was a devil
These were his last moments
Saiga Shichirō was shot dead in the streets
The following is about the miserable end of the evil devil of the Japanese Imperialist Ideological Police, who for over 20 years subjected numerous of our patriotic pioneers to brutal torture, framed them with false charges, and drove them to death in prison.
Former Senior Police Officer Saiga Shichirō (47 years old) of the Gyeonggi Province Police Department was shot dead by a number of assailants on the street next to the Wonnam-dong (원남동, 苑南洞) Post Office in the city around 6:30 PM on November 2nd. Following Japan’s defeat and Korea’s liberation, he had sent his family back to his hometown in Kagawa Prefecture in haste, while he himself stayed behind at his residence at 124 Wonnam-dong, engrossed in settling his estate. It seems that Saiga himself acknowledged the crimes that he had committed, as he was mostly absent from his home, and even the neighbors mentioned that they had not seen lights on at his place until now.
However, on the day of the shooting (November 2nd), bright lights were turned on inside Saiga’s house, and even laughter could be heard from inside. Just after 6 PM, Saiga appeared outside, wearing slippers, to see off a guest. As he crossed the roundabout in Wonnam-dong and entered the alley next to the post office, gunshots suddenly rang out from the darkness. Saiga was shot in the right chest and was holding it with his hand when a second bullet struck his head. Saiga collapsed onto the ground and met his end with a final, dying scream.