This article is the last one in a series of three educational articles published by the colonial regime to promote a heavily biased narrative of Japanese and Korean history from mythological times to the fall of the Kingdom of Baekje in 660 A.D., which the regime used to justify its colonization of Korea. Since Buyeo was the historical capital of Baekje, the regime lavishly developed it as a propaganda tourist landmark to encourage Koreans to accept colonization by Imperial Japan the same way the Kingdom of Baekje allegedly accepted military and cultural exchange with Ancient Japan. Much of the tourist landmark development was spearheaded by the Korean Federation of National Power (国民総力朝鮮聯盟, 국민총력조선연맹), which functioned as the one and only political party of colonial Korea.
The first two articles of the series publish the regime’s detailed historical narrative about ancient Japan and Korea (the translation is available here). This historical narrative was undoubtedly used to indoctrinate tour groups visiting Buyeo on 1-day, 1-night excursions.
In this third and last article, a reporter follows a tour group of 50 school girls from Seoul during their visit to Buyeo, who were here for regimented ‘training’ consisting of three hours of labor service (planting trees) and several hours of indoctrination, including a tour of the historical sites, mandatory Shinto worship rituals, and prayer. This included the morning Kyūjō Yōhai ritual (宮城遥拝), which involved deeply bowing several times in the direction of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo while standing, vowing loyalty to the Emperor.
The girls were closely monitored by staff, including the teacher and an Imperial Army major, who described himself as a fixture in the dormitory, which implied that he was constantly present while the girls were staying in the dormitory.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) April 21, 1943
Describing the Holy Land of Buyeo (Part 3)
Reviving the Dreams of a Thousand Years Ago
The sacred perspiration of team members who stream into the Holy City, one after the other
Both the mainland Japanese and the Koreans are now working hard in Buyeo to transform the history of Japanese-Korean Unity dating back more than 1,000 years into a present-day reality that knows no limits. When we look up to the sacred virtues of the four precious deities, the light of the ancient soil that we must raise with our own strength shines brilliantly in our eyes. We must hold the same hoe together as we dig up the history of the past thousand years. From August 1940 until today, 75,000 volunteers have been heaping up the soil of Buyeo, pouring their heart and soul into every lump of dirt that they heap up. The people work happily and nobly, since the labor service in Buyeo is a family honor to be handed down to the next generation.
However, is labor service in Buyeo really just any ordinary labor service? When you look at the construction site of the Shrine, which is bleached white in the middle of Mount Buso (부소산, 扶蘇山), you can see the earthen walls marked with regular hoe-shaped marks, and you can also find the marks of the carefully arranged gravel, which was prepared in such an undisturbed manner. Thus, the work site of Buyeo has become a great training grounds for the Korean people to seek the cultivation of their minds.
The first thing that hikers will see is the divine view of the three mountains of Buyeo. After more than 50 minutes on the bus, they gradually bow their heads in deference to the majesty of the mountains in all directions. When they reach such a state of mental cohesion on the bus, their bus enters the town of Buyeo.
Those who arrive in the morning will rest at an inn in the morning. In the afternoon, they spend about three hours in labor service. The next morning, they will listen to lectures and go on a tour of the historical sites, then disperse in the morning.
Those who arrive in the evening will do their labor service the next morning after they stay the night. In the afternoon, they will listen to lectures and go on a tour of the historical sites, and then conclude their itinerary. This is the plan that the Korean Federation of National Power has made since the construction of Buyeo Jingu Shrine in accordance with the Buyeo Shrine Construction Office, and anyone who comes as a group must act in accordance with this plan.
The following are the features of the Buyeo work program. Absolutely no one is allowed to act alone, whether it be seeing things, hearing things, or working. They must obey the orders of their leaders, even when it comes to getting up in the morning and eating. Even distinguished men of rank and decorations must follow the orders of their leaders once they join the service teams. This may seem like a very rigid system, but for the occasional traveler, it is a comforting way to travel, and this system is mentioned in travel anecdotes about Buyeo. Service teams are sent into the royal county of Buyeo from various areas every day not only to perform Shrine construction work, but also to repair roads, transport heavy objects, and even build water systems, all with the enthusiasm of “making our capital with our own hands”. The peace and tranquility of the inhabitants of the sanctuary can be seen in the way they work with their faces beaming with pride. In other words, their training has uplifted the people of Buyeo up to this point.
This reporter spent a day with 50 female students from Seoul, who were the pinnacle of all the students of Korea, and struggled through the round-table discussions on the train. In Buyeo, they arrived at Half Moon Dormitory, which was operated by the county for the service teams, where they were met by a director of the Korean Federation of National Power, Mr. Hayashi, whom they had known for many days. Standing next to him was Major Yamaguchi, a heavily bearded man. He introduced himself by saying, “Please just regard me as a fixture in this dormitory”. In 1940, Major Yamaguchi became a commissioned officer of the Korean Federation of National Power, and he will be taking care of all the team members. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call him a labor leader rather than a caretaker.
On this day, Director Hayashi announced that he would conduct the training in place of Major Yamaguchi. Even Principal Miyahara, who was leading the group, was confused as to what was going on. But upon hearing Mr. Hayashi say, “Starting tonight, I am taking charge of everyone’s well-being”, the students felt that things were looking up. In other words, whereas the students used to feel less trust in following their leader, they now felt relieved that they could follow the discipline of training. “You are not here for labor. You are here for training”. These were Mr. Hayashi’s first words. “You must be tired today, so please rest at ease in the dormitory. Tomorrow morning, get up at 5:00 a.m.!” The training had already begun. Major Yamaguchi led me to the Baekgang dormitory, which had been designated as my lodgings for the night. This was another county-run training dormitory, built in a renovated elementary school not far from the Half Moon Dormitory.
The female students moved swiftly into the designated dormitory, where they were provided with a blanket, a top futon mat, and a bottom futon mat for sleeping. Three meals were included, and the cost was only 1.30 yen per person, so they were very inexpensive accommodations. Thanks to the kindness of Major Yamaguchi, all the firewood was lit in the Ondol that night. Each person laid out a brand-new futon on the warm floor and began to get ready for bed. Teachers and students alike began to do the same thing. “The lights will go out at ten o’clock. Until then, with your teacher’s permission, you are allowed some free time”, Major Yamaguchi announced to each room, out of consideration for the hearts of the girls who wanted to have some play time after following military-style orders the whole time. As the students, who had been waiting for this moment, started to become excited, this time it was the teacher’s turn to keep a watchful eye on the students. Roll call was at 9:30. Once it was 10:00, there was silence, not even a murmur in the room. The next morning, they woke up to the sound of the wake-up signal, and after washing their faces as they had been instructed, they assembled at Half Moon Dormitory.
Morning worship was at 6:30. Facing the east bowing several times towards the Imperial Palace, they performed the Kyūjō Yōhai prayers. Next, they faced the direction of Chōsen Shrine bowing several times in worship. At 7:00 a.m., it was time for breakfast. Everyone sat down in front of their meals laid out on the long tables and performed a pre-meal ritual. They sang a song of thanksgiving to the gods with Director Hayashi. Once this was done, they said “Itadakimasu!” (a customary Japanese phrase of gratitude which is said before meals) and stuck their chopsticks into bowls of mixed rice which included barley. Every step of the process was a continuation of their training.
Major Yamaguchi led the group from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in front of the Shrine construction office, which was set up at the foot of Mount Buso with an old-fashioned bamboo railing and the scent of new wood emanating from it. Here, Major Yamaguchi handed over the girls to Mr. Shibata, the director of the Buyeo Shrine Construction Office. The girls were then assigned work to plant saplings to grow sacred trees on the grounds. The girls were determined not to be outdone by previous teams of laborers that had worked there earlier as they worked hard breaking a sweat with their hoes.
Buyeo is famous for its cherry blossoms. Although their cherry blossoms do not have the same fiery colors that Yoshino cherry blossoms have, the flowers that bloom along the approach to the Shrine have deep colors similar to those found in mainland Japan. Buyeo’s mountains and rivers, created by Mother Nature throughout the four seasons and providing a backdrop to the 16 townships (myeon) of the county, will be praised as a wonder of the world. When the four railway lines are opened up soon to this beautiful scenery, traffic jams will certainly ensue. There is no end to what I can write about Buyeo. (Written and photographed by Correspondent Mr. Arai)
Photo: (Above) The labor service team gathered in front of the Shrine construction office, (Below) Performing a pre-meal ritual before breakfast.