Young Korean teachers teach children the ‘will to fight and destroy the U.S. and Britain’ and the Imperial Way of Labor where ‘every stalk of grass and every tree’ is connected to the Japanese nation and everything in the villages is ‘all solely dedicated to the Emperor’ (Sosa, 1943)

This is a ‘feel-good, heartwarming’ story of a novice teacher who gradually gets used to teaching her fourth grade students in the farm village of Sosa and builds up her confidence. The story sounds ordinary for the first few paragraphs, until she starts to talk about the ‘will to fight’, defeating the U.S. and Britain, dedicating everything to the Emperor, and other Imperialist propaganda points. Today, Sosa is part of Bucheon, a city located 25 kilometers away from Seoul.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) October 11, 1943

“The story about the acorns” is filled with a will to fight

Teachers’ appreciation for the lovely children

Farm village schools are fighting

Report by a trainee of Seoul Women’s Teachers College (2)

It was now dawn at the farm village school. Today was the day the trainees would finally begin their full-scale training. We had spent a night in an unfamiliar room. Although there was a little bit of discomfort, life with my 51 classmates was pleasant. When I opened the window, a gentle breeze came in over the golden ears of rice soaked in the night mist. In the fresh air, we ate breakfast made with freshly picked daikon radish and bok choy cabbage.

The trainees waited, their hearts racing with new hope for the day ahead. “What kinds of facial expressions will the children have when we meet them?” we wondered.

Soon, it was 8:30 in the morning. It was time for the trainees to go teach for the first time at Sosa North Public National School. They only had to walk from the waiting room to the staff room, but everyone was tense. “Good morning, teachers,” said a large sixth-grade boy, raising his hands in a bow. After responding back saying “Good morning,” I felt somewhat relieved.

At 8:45 a.m., we had our staff morning assembly, a recital of a prayer to the gods, and other announcements. Then the children’s morning assembly began. As the sound of four children blowing their horns reverberated in the air as an admonition, the children, who had been running around the school yard, gathered around the assembly area in front of the school and tried their best to line up quickly, which was a very encouraging sight.

During the morning assembly, we introduced ourselves. When my name was called out as the teacher for the second class of the fourth grade, I involuntarily responded in a loud voice, “Present!” When I stood in front of the children, I got worried, since many things could happen. I looked at the fingertips of the child in front of me and involuntarily stood immobile. The cute little children with bowl haircuts were all lined up in a row. The thought of living with these children for the next sixteen days made me want to talk to them.

I walked up the polished and shining stairs and entered the classroom of the second class of the fourth grade. When I saw the children properly sitting in their chairs waiting for me, I was reminded of my own elementary school days. I was then filled with emotion, realizing that I was now in a position to teach them.

Not long after I calmed down, it was time for me to give a lesson to the students. The students were children from rural villages. I had no idea what kind of knowledge they would have. I was teaching a class on spoken Japanese. Since it was an hour of instruction with children whom I had just met, my heart was aflutter. But I could not let them think that my podium was too high. The children stared at me more and more, as if they did not know of my inner turmoil. However, now that I was at the podium, I was the teacher. I had to be firm. I stared into the dark, shining eyes of each of the nearly 80 children who were seated in rows. My self-awareness of the fact that I was a “teacher of Japan at war” firmly supported me in my heart.

As to how they speak, listening to the five or six students that I had picked, I realized that their topics of conversation were different from those of the urban children. They spoke of “acorns,” “pulling grains out of barley ears,” and other topics that smelled of earth and sunlight. While children in the city read picture books, children here go out to work in the fields and mountains. This kind of life on the ground comes alive in the classroom.

Their way of speaking was rough, but I thought it was precious that the children of the soil had such a healthy spirit and were proud to share their experiences in front of everyone. When I said, “Sosa is a beautiful place,” they all smiled and said, “Yes, it is”. I couldn’t help but think how sweet it was to see a child from a pure farm village so happy to be praised for his or her hometown.

Another thing that surprised me was the fact that the topic of “acorns” and “stories about pulling grains from barley” often included the fact that Japan is now fighting hard to defeat the U.S. and Britain. The stories of the children are not merely “natural life experiences” in the midst of nature in the farming villages. Indeed, the “will to fight” and to destroy the U.S. and Britain permeates and boils over in every acorn and in every ear of barley in everyday life. I was infinitely happy to see this “will to fight” in the lives of the children of today’s farm villages, and as a national teacher, I was grateful and honored to see it.

In the peaceful and tranquil nature of the farming villages, people live with the sun, the sky, the crops, the cows, and the horses. Life in a farming village where people enjoy nature is now a dream of the past. The true meaning of the Imperial Way of Labor lies in the fact that every stalk of grass and every tree is connected to the nation, and that every hoe and every kiln, the crops and labor in the farming villages are all solely dedicated to the sovereign Emperor alone. It is only natural that the will to fight is now clearly evident in the minds of the children of the farming villages of today, and in the topics that they talk about.

I shouted out in my heart, “Oh, children of the fighting farming villages of Japan! I cannot help but admire your fierce and burning will to fight that is reflected in your pure faces.”

It was recess. My love for the children was boundless, so I couldn’t help but join hands with them in the schoolyard. The autumn sun’s rays were pouring down like a bright rain all over the schoolyard. Oh, the joy of playing hand in hand with those children who were burning with the will to fight! I couldn’t help but think to myself, how could I not feel the joy of an educator here?

In the afternoon, I returned to the waiting room for an afternoon event. Lunch was a delicious dish of kinpira gobo. From 1:00 p.m., Mr. Watanabe gave an instructional lecture on practical training.

  • 1. Train individual students with the goal of instilling sincerity.
  • 2. Train individual students with the purpose of increasing promptness.
  • 3. Train jointly with the students to work organically together.
  • 4. Train students as group to work as an organized team.
  • 5. Conduct specialized training for emergency situations.

After listening to the above, I went to the practical training site and watched the fourth graders work on point #1.

(By Ayako Hoshimura)

Photos: Children’s play (above) and children in the classroom (below)



京城日報 1943年10月11日



















  • 一号は各個訓練により真心入念を目的とす。
  • 二号は各個訓練により速度を旨とする。
  • 三号は共同訓練により有機的に働かせる。
  • 四号は集団訓練により整隊をなしての作業。
  • 五号は特別訓練により火急な場合のため。