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FTR #1141 Deep Politics and the Death of Park Won-Soon, Part 2.

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FTR #1141 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: The late Park Won-soon was a lead­ing polit­i­cal reformer and crit­ic in South Kore­an pol­i­tics, as well as being a prob­a­ble can­di­date in the 2022 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in assess­ing the sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances of his death are the over­lap­ping areas in which his crit­i­cism placed him afoul of polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and his­tor­i­cal dynam­ics stem­ming from the Japan­ese Gold­en Lily pro­gram and the place­ment of that con­sum­mate wealth at the foun­da­tion of the post-World War II Amer­i­can and glob­al sys­tem.

In addi­tion, the “Black Gold” accu­mu­lat­ed through the Gold­en Lily pro­gram and Nazi loot pro­vid­ed an eco­nom­ic foun­da­tion for post-World War II covert oper­a­tions. (FTR #‘s 427, 428, 446, 451, 501, 688689, 1106, 1107 & 1108 deal with the sub­ject of the Gold­en Lily pro­gram suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed by the Japan­ese to loot Asia.)

An advo­cate of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion between North and South Korea, Park Won-soon’s stance on the two nations placed him at odds with pre­vail­ing Amer­i­can, South Kore­an and Japan­ese nation­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy.

A law­suit was filed by a con­ser­v­a­tive South Kore­an lawyer against the Kim Yo-jong, the sis­ter of North Kore­an ruler Kim Jong-un. This is note­wor­thy in the con­text of the death of Park Won-soon, who was an advo­cate of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion between North and South Korea. Kore­an right-wingers have called him a “com­mie” for his advo­ca­cy of improved rela­tions between the coun­tries.

Rela­tions between the Kore­as are very much on the front burn­er.

Much of the pro­gram details the cen­turies-long Japan­ese loot­ing of Korea, cul­mi­nat­ing in Japan’s 1905 col­o­niza­tion of that coun­try. In 1910, Korea was declared to be Japan­ese nation­al ter­ri­to­ry, there­by denom­i­nat­ing all mate­r­i­al and cul­tur­al wealth of Korea as Japan­ese.

The bulk of the pro­gram con­sists of a his­to­ry of Japan’s col­o­niza­tion of Korea. That colo­nial occu­pa­tion was a major tar­get of the late Park Won-soon’s crit­i­cism.

Again, when it incor­po­rat­ed the Gold­en Lily wealth into the post­war “Black Gold” cache and John Fos­ter Dulles engi­neered the 1951 Peace Treaty, the U.S. “signed off” on Japan’s actions in Korea and else­where in Asia.

Japan’s loot­ing of Korea took place over cen­turies. In Gold War­riors, the Sea­graves present the his­to­ry of Japan’s rape of Korea, begin­ning with their account of the gris­ly mur­der of Kore­an Queen Min in 1894. ” . . . . the defense­less queen was stabbed and slashed repeat­ed­ly, and car­ried wail­ing out to the palace gar­den where she was thrown onto a pile of fire­wood, drenched with kerosene, and set aflame. An amer­i­can mil­i­tary advi­sor, Gen­er­al William Dye, was one of sev­er­al for­eign­ers who heard and saw the killers milling around in the palace com­pound with dawn swords while the queen was burned alive. . . .”

A snap­shot of the Japan­ese colo­nial occu­pa­tion of Korea, a focal point of crit­i­cism of Park Won-soon:” . . . . [Gen­er­al] Ter­auchi was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly bru­tal, set­ting a prece­dent for Japan­ese behav­ior in all the coun­tries, it would occu­py over com­ing decades. Deter­mined to crush all resis­tance, he told Kore­ans, ‘I will whip you with scor­pi­ons!’ He set up a sadis­tic police force of Kore­an yakuza, order­ing it to use tor­ture as a mat­ter of course, for ‘no Ori­en­tal can be expect­ed to tell the truth except under tor­ture’. These police were close­ly super­vised by Japan’s gestapo, the kem­peitai. . . . ‘Japan’s aim,’ said Kore­an his­to­ri­an Yi Kibeck, ‘was to erad­i­cate con­scious­ness of Kore­an nation­al iden­ti­ty, roots and all, and thus to oblit­er­ate the very exis­tence of the Kore­an peo­ple from the face of the earth.’ . . . the penin­su­la was stripped of every­thing from art­works to root veg­eta­bles. As Korea now belonged to Japan, the trans­fer of cul­tur­al property—looting—was not theft. How can you steal some­thing that already belongs to you? . . .”

Key ele­ments of analy­sis of the Japan­ese polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al dec­i­ma­tion of Korea: The loot­ing of Korea took place over cen­turies; the Black Ocean and Black Drag­on soci­eties (fore­run­ners of the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church and, pos­si­bly, the Shin­cheon­ji cult) played a key role in insti­gat­ing the incre­men­tal Japan­ese con­quest of Korea; the eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al loot­ing of Korea had already ren­dered that coun­try one of the weak­est in Asia by the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry; (Korea had been one of the most advanced civ­i­liza­tions on earth, pri­or to Japan­ese con­quest); for cen­turies, Chi­na had func­tioned as a mil­i­tary pro­tec­tor of Korea; as not­ed above, there was whole­sale eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al plun­der; mil­lions of Kore­ans were enslaved to work in Japan and, dur­ing World War II, in Gold­en Lily facil­i­ties, where they were worked to death or buried alive; many more Kore­ans were con­script­ed as sol­diers into Japan’s army; tor­ture was rou­tine in Japan’s occu­pa­tion of Korea, as was sum­ma­ry exe­cu­tion and impris­on­ment on trumped-up charges; Kore­ans were for­bid­den from speak­ing their own lan­guage; even Japan­ese school teach­ers wore uni­forms and car­ried swords; as high­light­ed in the pre­vi­ous pro­gram, many Kore­an women were forced to become slave pros­ti­tutes for the Japan­ese army–“Comfort Women.”

After a pre­view of dis­cus­sion of John Fos­ter Dulles and his nego­ti­a­tion of the 1951 Peace Treaty insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing the loot­ing and bru­tal­iza­tion of Asia by the Japanese–a treaty that received diplo­mat­ic momen­tum from the advent of the Kore­an War–we con­clude with an obit­u­ary of a South Kore­an gen­er­al whose career is an embod­i­ment of the deep pol­i­tics sur­round­ing the life and death of Park Won-soon.

Gen­er­al Paik Sun-yup was a Kore­an four-star gen­er­al, whose ser­vice in the Impe­r­i­al Japan­ese Army dur­ing World War II has been a focal point of con­tro­ver­sy in South Korea. Gen­er­al Sun-yup embod­ied the ongo­ing con­tro­ver­sy in Korea over Japan’s occu­pa­tion and the sub­se­quent unfold­ing of events lead­ing up to,  and includ­ing the Kore­an War. “. . . . In 1941, he joined the army of Manchukuo, a pup­pet state that impe­r­i­al Japan had estab­lished in Manchuria, and served in a unit known for hunt­ing down Kore­an guer­ril­las fight­ing for inde­pen­dence . . .”

1.  A law­suit was filed by a con­ser­v­a­tive South Kore­an lawyer against the Kim Yo-jong, the sis­ter of North Kore­an ruler Kim Jong-un. This is note­wor­thy in the con­text of the death of Park Won-soon, who was an advo­cate of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion between North and South Korea. Kore­an right-wingers have called him a “com­mie” for his advo­ca­cy of improved rela­tions between the coun­tries.

Rela­tions between the Kore­as are very much on the front burn­er.

South Kore­an Lawyer Fires Sal­vo at North, Suing Kim’s Sis­ter” by Choe Sang-Hun; The New York Times; 7/18, 2020; p. A11.

After North Korea blew up an inter-Kore­an liai­son office on its own soil last month, plung­ing rela­tions with South Korea to a diplo­mat­ic nadir, a con­ser­v­a­tive activist lawyer in the South decid­ed that one per­son was respon­si­ble; Kim Yo-jong, the only sis­ter of North Kore­a’s leader, Kim Jong-un. So he filed a law­suit against Ms. Kim. . . .

2. The bulk of the pro­gram con­sists of a his­to­ry of Japan’s col­o­niza­tion of Korea. That colo­nial occu­pa­tion was anoth­er tar­get of the late Park Won-soon’s crit­i­cism.

Japan’s loot­ing of Korea took place over cen­turies. In Gold War­riors, the Sea­graves present the his­to­ry of Japan’s rape of Korea, begin­ning with their account of the gris­ly mur­der of Kore­an Queen Min in 1894. ” . . . . the defense­less queen was stabbed and slashed repeat­ed­ly, and car­ried wail­ing out to the palace gar­den where she was thrown onto a pile of fire­wood, drenched with kerosene, and set aflame. An amer­i­can mil­i­tary advi­sor, Gen­er­al William Dye, was one of sev­er­al for­eign­ers who heard and saw the killers milling around in the palace com­pound with dawn swords while the queen was burned alive. . . .”

A snap­shot of the Japan­ese colo­nial occu­pa­tion of Korea, a focal point of crit­i­cism of Park Won-soon:” . . . . [Gen­er­al] Ter­auchi was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly bru­tal, set­ting a prece­dent for Japan­ese behav­ior in all the coun­tries, it would occu­py over com­ing decades. Deter­mined to crush all resis­tance, he told Kore­ans, ‘I will whip you with scor­pi­ons!’ He set up a sadis­tic police force of Kore­an yakuza, order­ing it to use tor­ture as a mat­ter of course, for ‘no Ori­en­tal can be expect­ed to tell the truth except under tor­ture’. These police were close­ly super­vised by Japan’s gestapo, the kem­peitai. . . . ‘Japan’s aim,’ said Kore­an his­to­ri­an Yi Kibeck, ‘was to erad­i­cate con­scious­ness of Kore­an nation­al iden­ti­ty, roots and all, and thus to oblit­er­ate the very exis­tence of the Kore­an peo­ple from the face of the earth.’ . . . the penin­su­la was stripped of every­thing from art­works to root veg­eta­bles. As Korea now belonged to Japan, the trans­fer of cul­tur­al property—looting—was not theft. How can you steal some­thing that already belongs to you? . . .”

Key ele­ments of analy­sis of the Japan­ese polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al dec­i­ma­tion of Korea: The loot­ing of Korea took place over cen­turies; the Black Ocean and Black Drag­on soci­eties (fore­run­ners of the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church and, pos­si­bly, the Shin­cheon­ji cult) played a key role in insti­gat­ing the incre­men­tal Japan­ese con­quest of Korea; the eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al loot­ing of Korea had already ren­dered that coun­try one of the weak­est in Asia by the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry; (Korea had been one of the most advanced civ­i­liza­tions on earth, pri­or to Japan­ese con­quest); for cen­turies, Chi­na had func­tioned as a mil­i­tary pro­tec­tor of Korea; as not­ed above, there was whole­sale eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al plun­der; mil­lions of Kore­ans were enslaved to work in Japan and, dur­ing World War II, in Gold­en Lily facil­i­ties, where they were worked to death or buried alive; many more Kore­ans were con­script­ed as sol­diers into Japan’s army; tor­ture was rou­tine in Japan’s occu­pa­tion of Korea, as was sum­ma­ry exe­cu­tion and impris­on­ment on trumped-up charges; Kore­ans were for­bid­den from speak­ing their own lan­guage; even Japan­ese school teach­ers wore uni­forms and car­ried swords; as high­light­ed in the pre­vi­ous pro­gram, many Kore­an women were forced to become slave pros­ti­tutes for the Japan­ese army–“Comfort Women.”

Gold War­riors by Ster­ling and Peg­gy Sea­grave; Ver­so [SC]; Copy­right 2003, 2005 by Ster­ling and Peg­gy Sea­grave; ISBN 1–84467-531–9; pp. 14–21.

. . . . Dur­ing the night of Octo­ber 7. 1895, thir­ty Japan­ese assas­sins forced their way into Kore­a’s roy­al palace in Seoul. Burst­ing into the qu4een’s pri­vate quar­ters, they cut down two ladies-in-wait­ing and cor­nered Queen Min. When the Min­is­ter of the Roy­al House­hold tried to shield her, a swords­man slashed off both his hands. the defense­less queen was stabbed and slashed repeat­ed­ly, and car­ried wail­ing out to the palace gar­den where she was thrown onto a pile of fire­wood, drenched with kerosene, and set aflame. An amer­i­can mil­i­tary advi­sor, Gen­er­al William Dye, was one of sev­er­al for­eign­ers who heard and saw the killers milling around in the palace com­pound with dawn swords while the queen was burned alive. Japan declared that the mur­ders were com­mit­ted by “Kore­ans dressed as Japan­ese in Euro­pean clothes”–a gloss greet­ed with ridicule by the diplo­mat­ic com­mu­ni­ty. Accord­ing to the British min­is­ter in Tokyo, Sir Ernest Satow, First Sec­re­tary Sug­imu­ra of the Japan­ese lega­tion in Korea led the assas­sins.

The gris­ly mur­der of Queen Min was a turn­ing point in Japan’s effort to gain con­trol of Korea. Her hus­band King Kojong was a weak­ling, con­trolled by the queen’s fac­tion, who were allied with Chi­na against Japan. Once the queen was dead, the Japan­ese could eas­i­ly con­trol the king, and put n end to Chi­nese inter­fer­ence.

The coup was planned by Miu­ra Goro, agent of Japan’s aggres­sive Yam­a­ga­ta clique. At first, the killing was to be done by Japan­ese-trained Kore­an sol­diers, so it could be passed off as an inter­nal mat­ter. But to make sure noth­ing went wrong, Miu­ra called for help from the Japan­ese ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion Black Ocean. Many of its mem­bers were in Korea pos­ing as busi­ness agents of Japan­ese com­pa­nies, includ­ing the old­est zaibat­su, Mit­sui. Black Ocean and anoth­er secret soci­ety called Black Drag­on func­tioned as Japan’s para­mil­i­taries on the Asian main­land, car­ry­ing out dirty work that could be denied by Tokyo. They were in posi­tion through­out Korea and Chi­na, run­ning broth­els, phar­ma­cies, pawn­shops, and build­ing net­works of influ­ence by sup­ply­ing local men with mon­ey, sex­u­al favors, alco­hol, drugs, pornog­ra­phy, and Span­ish Fly. While Black Ocean was obsessed with Korea, Black Drag­on (named for the Amur or Black Drag­on Riv­er sep­a­rat­ing Manchuria from Siberia) was ded­i­cat­ed to block­ing Russ­ian encroach­ment, and seiz­ing Chi­na for Japan. Black Ocean pro­vid­ed Miu­ra with the pro­fes­sion­al assas­sins he need­ed, and the rest of the killers were secu­ri­ty men from Japan’s con­sulate. Whether they intend­ed to kill the queen in full view of for­eign observers is anoth­er mat­ter. Japan­ese con­spir­a­cies often began qui­et­ly, then went out of con­trol.

Many Japan­ese lead­ers like states­man Ito Hirobu­mi were enlight­ened and rea­son­able men who would have vetoed the mur­der, had they known. But there was a deep con­tra­dic­tion inside Japan fol­low­ing the Mei­ji Restora­tion in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. Two cliques com­pet­ed ruth­less­ly for pow­er behind the throne, and for influ­ence over the Mei­ji Emper­or. Those asso­ci­at­ed with Ito were more cos­mopoli­tan, emu­lat­ing the role of Bis­mar­ck in guid­ing Kaiser Wil­helm, or Dis­raeli in guid­ing Queen Vic­to­ria. Those allied with Gen­er­al Yam­a­ga­ta were throw backs to medieval Japan, where pow­er worked in the shad­ows with assas­sins, sur­prise attacks, and treach­ery. While Yam­a­ga­ta built a mod­ern con­script army to replace Japan’s tra­di­tion­al samu­rai forces, he also built a net­work of spies, secret police, yakuza gang­sters and super­pa­tri­ots. These were key ele­ments of the police state Yam­a­ga­ta was cre­at­ing in Japan. Under­world god­fa­thers were vital com­po­nent of Japan’s rul­ing struc­ture. Mem­bers of the impe­r­i­al fam­i­ly, and the finan­cial elite that con­trols Japan, had inti­mate ties to top gang­sters. When Yamagata’s armies invad­ed Korea and Manchuria, gang­sters were the cut­ting edge. There­after, Japan’s under­world played a major role in loot­ing Asia over fifty years, 1895–1945.

Queen Min’s mur­der marks the begin­ning of this half-cen­tu­ry of extreme Japan­ese bru­tal­i­ty and indus­tri­al scale plun­der. Her killing shows how eas­i­ly the mask of Japan’s good inten­tions could slip, to reveal hideous real­i­ty.

Oth­er Japan­ese strate­gies also began qui­et­ly, then got out of hand. For exam­ple, it is unlike­ly that Japan intend­ed all along to have its army stage the Rape of Nanking in 1937, butcher­ing some 300,000 defense­less peo­ple in full view of for­eign observers with cam­eras. Had the Rape hap­pened only once, it might have been a grotesque acci­dent. But vari­a­tions of Nanking occurred many times dur­ing Japan’s light­ning con­quest of East and South­east Asia. By the time they over­ran Sin­ga­pore in 1942, the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted against Over­seas Chi­nese civil­ians there—the Sook Ching mas­sacres—were hap­pen­ing all over South­east Asia, and not only to Chi­nese. That this occurred so often sug­gests there was more to Japan’s aggres­sion than a pure­ly mil­i­tary oper­a­tion. Why, after suc­cess­ful­ly con­quer­ing a neigh­bor­ing coun­try, did Japan tor­ment the Chi­nese and oth­ers who had mon­ey or prop­er­ty? The expla­na­tion lies in the shad­ows behind the army. Few his­to­ry books take into account the role of the under­world, because schol­ars rarely study out­laws. With Japan, we must always con­sid­er the under­world because it per­me­ates the pow­er struc­ture, as dark­ly sat­i­rized by the films of Ita­mi Juzo.

The con­quest of Korea was Japan’s first exper­i­ment in for­eign plun­der on an indus­tri­al scale, so there was plen­ty for the under­world to do. West­ern­ers know so lit­tle about Korea that it is sur­pris­ing how much there was to steal. Today, North and South Korea are only ves­tiges of a dis­tin­guished past. His­to­ri­an Bruce Cum­ings points out that “Kore­a’s influ­ence on Japan was far greater than Japan’s influ­ence on Korea”. In ancient times Japan was raid­ed by maraud­ers from the Kore­an penin­su­la, and raid­ed Korea in return, but these were bands of swords­men and archers, not armored reg­i­ments. Such raids caused  mutu­al loathing of Kore­ans and Japan­ese that has its par­al­lel in the Catholic and Protes­tant trou­bles of North­ern Ire­land. A quick thumb­nail his­to­ry explains this hatred, and show how Japan’s aggres­sion began.

When they first start­ed feud­ing two thou­sand years ago, there was no Korea or Japan, as we know them today. In dif­fer­ent parts of the Kore­an penin­su­la were city-states with high­ly devel­oped economies sup­port­ing mag­nif­i­cent reli­gious, lit­er­ary and artis­tic cul­tures. Their porce­lain is among the most prized in the world today, along with ele­gant paint­ings, sculp­ture, and gold fil­i­gree. The elite lived in palaces on great estates, with thou­sands of sales. Tak­ing no inter­est in com­merce or war­fare, they devel­oped astron­o­my, math­e­mat­ics, wood block print­ing, and invent­ed mov­able type long before any­one else. Until the six­teenth cen­tu­ry, Korea had one of the world’s most advanced civ­i­liza­tions.

Mean­while, in the seclud­ed islands of Japan, immi­grants from Chi­na and Korea were linked in a loose con­fed­er­a­tion ruled by Shin­to priests and priest­esses. For a thou­sand years, these rival domains feud­ed among them­selves, before final­ly sub­mit­ting to the cen­tral mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship of the shoguns. Chron­ic con­spir­a­cy pro­duced what one his­to­ri­an calls Japan’s ‘para­noid style’ in for­eign rela­tions. If Japan­ese treat­ed each oth­er ruth­less­ly, why treat for­eign­ers oth­er­wise?

Kore­ans regard­ed Japan­ese as ‘uncouth dwarves. Chi­nese were more cul­ti­vat­ed, so Korea will­ing­ly accept­ed trib­u­tary role with Chi­na. In return, Chi­na pro­tect­ed Korea from Japan.

In the six­teenth cen­tu­ry, after Japan was uni­fied by Toy­oto­mi Hideyoshi, he launched an inva­sion of Korea with 158,000 men. His plan was to crush Korea and erase its cul­ture from the face of the earth. He near­ly suc­ceed­ed. After sev­er­al years of cru­el occu­pa­tion, Korea was res­cued by Admi­ral Yi Sun-shin’s famous Tur­tle Ship, the world’s first ironclad—65-feet long, fir­ing can­non balls filled with nails. Admi­ral Yi cut Japan’s sup­ply routes and destroyed its ships. Humil­i­at­ed, Hideyoshi died soon after­ward.

Despite this fail­ure, the invaders prof­it­ed rich­ly by loot­ing Korea. Their army includ­ed monks and schol­ars assigned to steal Korea’s finest man­u­scripts. Samu­rai kid­napped mas­ters of ceram­ics such as the great Ri Sam-pyong, and made them slaves in Japan. A Kore­an schol­ar said the Japan­ese were “wild ani­mals that only crave mate­r­i­al goods and are total­ly igno­rant of human moral­i­ty”. Cen­turies lat­er, when Japan invad­ed Korea again, its armies once more includ­ed teams of monks and schol­ars to find and loot the finest art­works.

Korea nev­er recov­ered. In the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, it was the weak­est, least com­mer­cial coun­try in East Asia, ripe for pick­ing. China’s Manchu gov­ern­ment, on the verge of col­lapse, was in no shape to defend Korea.

Fol­low­ing the Mei­ji Restora­tion, Japan made a con­vul­sive effort to mod­ern­ize, becom­ing the first Asian nation able to com­pete mil­i­tar­i­ly with the West. As her army and navy devel­oped, she was in a posi­tion to launch a cam­paign of mech­a­nized con­quest on the main­land, to acquire a colo­nial empire of her own. Her fist tar­get was Korea. Politi­cians and army offi­cers argued that if Japan did not grab Korea, Manchuria, and Tai­wan, they would be grabbed by Rus­sia, France or Eng­land. Gen­er­al Yam­a­ga­ta and Black Ocean boss Toya­ma Mit­su­ru need­ed an inci­dent that would give them an excuse to invade, while putting the blame on Korea. Yam­a­ga­ta told Toya­ma to “start a conflagration”—then it would be the army’s duty to go “extin­guish the fire”.

Start­ing a fire in Korea was easy. Black Ocean ter­ror­ists attacked a rur­al reli­gious sect called Tong­hak. The Tong­haks struck back, caus­ing some Japan­ese casu­al­ties. With this excuse, Tokyo rushed in troops to ‘pro­tect’ its cit­i­zens in Korea. When news came that Chi­na was send­ing 1,500 sol­diers aboard a char­tered British ship, the S.S. Kow­sh­ing, a Japan­ese squadron inter­cept­ed the ves­sel and sank her with all aboard. This sur­prise attack set a prece­dent, fol­lowed many times by Japan in lat­er decades.

China’s tot­ter­ing Manchu gov­ern­ment fool­ish­ly declared war on Japan. In Sep­tem­ber 1894, in the mouth of Korea’s Yalu Riv­er, the Japan­ese destroyed half of China’s navy in a sin­gle after­noon. Japan then cap­tured Manchuria’s ‘impreg­nable’ Port Arthur, and the for­ti­fied har­bor at Wei­hai­wei in Shan­tung province sink­ing all Chi­nese ships in the har­bor. Chi­na sued for peace. By the end of Feb­ru­ary 1895, Japan con­trolled the whole of Korea and also Manchuria’s strate­gic Liao­tung penin­su­la. Chi­na also gave Japan con­trol of Tai­wan, which became Tokyo’s first colony. When South Manchuria and Port Arthur also were turned over to Japan, France, Ger­many and Rus­sia pres­sured Tokyo to return them.

It was at this point that Queen Min refused to cave in to Japan­ese bul­ly­ing, and was mur­dered. The stage was now set for the unprece­dent­ed cru­el­ties of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. . . .

. . . . Now feel­ing invin­ci­ble, Japan for­mal­ly declared Korea a colony. Nobody asked Kore­ans what they thought. West­ern gov­ern­ments did not protest. Great num­bers of Japan­ese arrived in the penin­su­la to make their for­tunes. With them came legions of agents for the great zaibat­su con­glom­er­ates, seiz­ing every com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ty, every nat­ur­al resource. Japan took con­trol of law and order, cre­at­ing new police and secret police net­works. No longer mak­ing any pre­tense of chival­ry, Japan­ese abused Kore­an sov­er­eign­ty at every turn, crush­ing all resis­tance. A news­pa­per edi­tor was arrest­ed when he wrote: “Ah, how wretched it is. Our twen­ty mil­lion coun­try­men have become the slaves of anoth­er coun­try!”

Not all Japan­ese were preda­tors. Some earnest­ly believed that they were in Korea to help, not to plun­der. Ito Hirobu­mi told Kore­an offi­cials, “Your coun­try does not have the pow­er to defend itself. . . I am not insist­ing that your coun­try com­mit sui­cide. . . I expect that if you thrust for­ward bold­ly, the day will come when you will advance to a posi­tion of equal­i­ty with us and we will coop­er­ate with one anoth­er.”

The appoint­ment of Ito as the first Japan­ese viceroy of Korea gave the coun­try some hope of ratio­nal gov­ern­ment. But Gen­er­al Yam­a­ga­ta saw to it that Ito’s staff includ­ed Black Drag­on boss Uchi­da Ryohei. Secret­ly financed from army funds, Uchida’s thugs went on a ram­page, mur­der­ing 18,000 Kore­ans dur­ing Ito’s time s viceroy. Dis­gust­ed by the bloody med­dling, Ito resigned in 1909 only to be shot dead by paid assas­sins. His mur­der was used as a pre­text to demand full annex­a­tion of Korea. On August 22, 1910, Korea ceased to be a mere colony and was ful­ly incor­po­rat­ed into Japan­ese ter­ri­to­ry. Japan’s army now had its own domain on the Asian main­land, free of inter­fer­ence from Tokyo politi­cians. One of Yamagata’s most rabid fol­low­ers, Gen­er­al Ter­auchi Masa­take, was appoint­ed first gov­er­nor-gen­er­al of Korea. Ter­auchi, who had lost his right hand dur­ing a great samu­rai rebel­lion in the 1870s, had been army min­is­ter dur­ing the Rus­so-Japan­ese War. He now super­vised the loot­ing and plun­der of Korea.

Although some Japan­ese Army offi­cers were chival­rous, showed mer­cy, or refused to indulge in wan­ton killing, Ter­auchi was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly bru­tal, set­ting a prece­dent for Japan­ese behav­ior in all the coun­tries, it would occu­py over com­ing decades. Deter­mined to crush all resis­tance, he told Kore­ans, “I will whip you with scor­pi­ons!” He set up a sadis­tic police force of Kore­an yakuza, order­ing it to use tor­ture as a mat­ter of course, for “no Ori­en­tal can be expect­ed to tell the truth except under tor­ture”. These police were close­ly super­vised by Japan’s gestapo, the kem­peitai.

Many kem­peitai agents wore civil­ian clothes, iden­ti­fied only by a chrysan­the­mum crest on the under­side of a lapel. Even­tu­al­ly Japan spawned a net­work of these spies, infor­mants, and ter­ror­ists through­out Asia. At the height of World War II, 35,000 offi­cial kem­peitai were deployed through­out the Japan­ese Empire. The unof­fi­cial num­ber was far greater, because of close inte­gra­tion with Black Drag­on, Black Ocean, and oth­er fanat­i­cal sects, work­ing togeth­er ‘like teeth and lips’. Black Ocean boss Uchi­da reviewed all appoint­ments of kem­peitai offi­cers sent to Korea.

Kore­an resis­tance was intense, but futile. In 1912, some 50,000 Kore­ans were arrest­ed; by 1918 the num­ber arrest­ed annu­al­ly rose to 140,000. Dur­ing Korea’s first ten years of Japan­ese rule even Japan­ese school­teach­ers wore uni­forms and car­ried swords. Japan’s army stood guard while kem­peitai and Black Ocean thugs pil­laged the penin­su­la. Japan­ese police con­trolled rice pro­duc­tion from pad­dy field to store­house, so the major­i­ty could be shipped to Japan Yakuza were expert at extor­tion. In Japan, they used intim­i­da­tion, extor­tion, kid­nap­ping and mur­der, restrained only by pru­dence in select­ing the vic­tims. On the main­land there was no need for such restraint. Because Terauchi’s style was so bru­tal, Japan­ese bankers and busi­ness­men made a pub­lic dis­play of show­ing con­tempt for mer­cy. Even­tu­al­ly, the Ter­auchi style spread across Asia, remain­ing in place till 1945.   

To be sure, Japan did mod­ern­ize Kore­an indus­try, to some extent, but at ter­ri­ble cost. Kore­an work­ers were paid one-fourth the wages of Japan­ese coun­ter­parts in the same fac­to­ries. Ter­auchi forced Kore­ans to eat mil­let, while their rice was sent to Japan.

In this mer­ci­less way, the penin­su­la was stripped of every­thing from art­works to root veg­eta­bles. As Korea now belonged to Japan, the trans­fer of cul­tur­al property—looting—was not theft. How can you steal some­thing that already belongs to you?

First on the wish-list was Korea’s famous celadon porce­lain, which many thought sur­passed China’s Tang porce­lain. Kore­an stoneware was dis­tinc­tive for its translu­cent blue-green glaze, with flo­ral designs incised in the clay and filled with col­or before glaz­ing. A West­ern expert called it “the most gra­cious and unaf­fect­ed pot­tery ever made”. Although Japan had kid­napped Korea’s celadon mas­ters in the six­teenth cen­tu­ry, and these experts had dis­cov­ered sources of fine clay in Kyushu, the porce­lain they made in Japan was not the same spir­i­tu­al­ly. Japan­ese val­ued Kore­an celadon above all oth­ers for rit­u­als and tea cer­e­mo­ny. Cov­et­ed also were exam­ples of Korea’s punch’ong stoneware, and Cho­son white porce­lain.

Some of this plun­der was put on dis­play at Tokyo’s Ueno Muse­um. Most end­ed up in pri­vate Japan­ese col­lec­tions where it was nev­er on pub­lic view, and rarely was seen even in pri­vate. Japan­ese col­lec­tors keep their trea­sures in vaults, tak­ing sin­gle pieces out for per­son­al view­ing. So, most of Korea’s stolen antiq­ui­ties remain lost from sight to this day.

When all Korea’s pri­vate col­lec­tions were con­fis­cat­ed, experts study­ing court records and ancient man­u­scripts deter­mined that the finest celadons still slept in the tombs of kings. To dis­guise the loot­ing of these tombs, Ter­auchi intro­duced laws for the ‘preser­va­tion of his­toric sites. By preser­va­tion, he meant that the tombs would be loot­ed and the valu­able con­tents pre­served in Japan. He then opened some two thou­sand tombs, includ­ing a roy­al tomb in Kaesong, which were emp­tied of their ancient celadons, Bud­dhist images, crowns, neck­laces, ear­rings, bronze mir­rors, and oth­er orna­men­tal trea­sures. Along the Tae­dong Riv­er near Pyongyang, some 1,400 tombs were opened and loot­ed.

This whole­sale theft was over­seen by Gen­er­al Ter­auchi, per­son­al­ly. One of his first acts was to destroy the 4,000-room Kyung­bok-goong Palace to make way for the con­struc­tion of a res­i­dence for him­self. To dec­o­rate his per­son­al quar­ters, he chose 600 art­works from thou­sands being pre­pared for ship­ment to Japan.

Japan­ese pri­vate col­lec­tors and antique deal­ers car­ried off not only art­works, but clas­sic lit­er­ary texts and impor­tant nation­al archives—all in the name of aca­d­e­m­ic research art Japan­ese muse­ums and uni­ver­si­ties. Tens of thou­sands of the finest books list­ed as Kore­an nation­al trea­sures, includ­ing all 1,800 vol­umes of the Ri dynasty archives, were shipped to Japan. Schol­ars say some 200,000 vol­umes of ancient books of less­er dis­tinc­tion were then burned, as part of a delib­er­ate pro­gram to erase Korea’s dis­tinc­tive cul­ture. They list more 42,000 cul­tur­al relics includ­ing ancient man­u­scripts, tak­en to Japan for ‘study’, and nev­er returned. For good mea­sure, the Japan­ese used dyna­mite to blow up a mon­u­ment to King Tae­jo (1396–1398) and a mon­u­ment to Sam-yong, the mil­i­tant Bud­dhist priest who led the resis­tance to Japan’s samu­rai inva­sion in 1592.

“Japan’s aim,” said Kore­an his­to­ri­an Yi Kibeck, “was to erad­i­cate con­scious­ness of Kore­an nation­al iden­ti­ty, roots and all, and thus to oblit­er­ate the very exis­tence of the Kore­an peo­ple from the face of the earth.”

Once stripped of their her­itage and iden­ti­ty, Kore­ans were to be made-over into sec­ond-class Japan­ese. Divest­ed of their inher­it­ed land, they had their names changed into Japan­ese names, and were forced to adopt Shin­to in place of their own Bud­dhist, Con­fu­cian or Chris­t­ian beliefs. Japan’s emper­or would be their only god, and any Kore­an who refused to acknowl­edge his divin­i­ty was arrest­ed. Tem­ples were loot­ed of bronze bells and Bud­dhist stat­u­ary. Even ordi­nary reli­gious met­al­work was removed and melt­ed down for weapons as ‘spir­i­tu­al coop­er­a­tion behind the guns.’ Kore­ans were to speak only Japan­ese; Kore­an writ­ers could only pub­lish in Japan­ese, and all schools taught only in Japan­ese. At home, Kore­ans were expect­ed to speak Japan­ese to each oth­er.

In 1907, Tokyo forced King Kojong to abdi­cate in favor of his retard­ed ten-year old son. They styled the boy ‘Crown Prince Impe­r­i­al Yi Un’ and sent him off to Tokyo, claim­ing he would be edu­cat­ed side-by-side with Meiji’s grandsons—Princes Hiro­hi­to, Chichibu and Taka­mat­su. In truth, the boy was a hostage, whose sur­vival depend­ed on con­tin­ued coop­er­a­tion by Korea’s roy­al fam­i­ly. For some rea­son, Emper­or Mei­ji found the oy sym­pa­thet­ic, and lav­ished atten­tion and gifts on him, the sort of affec­tion he nev­er demon­strat­ed toward his own grand­sons. The boy was eas­i­ly per­suad­ed to sign away his claim to the Kore­an throne.

In sub­se­quent decades, thou­sands of oth­er Kore­an cul­tur­al arti­facts were forcibly removed by Japan and nev­er returned, despite promis­es. When peo­ple are so thor­ough­ly ter­ror­ized, it is impos­si­ble to come for­ward lat­er with a pre­cise list of what was stolen, or a stack of receipts. In 1965, the South Kore­an gov­ern­ment demand­ed the return of 4,479 items that it was able to iden­ti­fy indi­vid­u­al­ly. Of hose, Japan grudg­ing­ly returned only 1,432, tak­ing anoth­er thir­ty years to do so. The great mass of Kore­an cul­tur­al trea­sure remains in Japan to this day, in pri­vate col­lec­tions, muse­ums, and the vaults of the Impe­r­i­al Fam­i­ly. Much of this pat­ri­mo­ny is beyond price. Here alone is evi­dence that Japan was far from bank­rupt at the end of World War II.

There always are col­lab­o­ra­tors. Over forty years, a Japan­ese antique deal­er named Naka­da amassed a for­tune loot­ing and export­ing ancient Koryo celadons. His part­ner was a for­mer high offi­cial of the Ri dynasty, who also became a mil­lion­aire.

Most Kore­an landown­ers were stripped of their estates and agri­cul­tur­al prop­er­ties, which were snapped up by Japan­ese devel­op­ers. One devel­op­er acquired over 300,000 acres in Korea, where he intend­ed to set­tle Japan­ese immi­grants. As ten­ant farm­ers lost their land, they and the urban poor were round­ed up and shipped off as slave labor to work in mines and con­struc­tion brigades in Japan, or in the des­o­late Kurile Islands. Six­ty thou­sand Kore­ans were forced to toil as slave labor in coal mines and mil­i­tary fac­to­ries in the Sakhalin penin­su­la of Siberia. Of these 43,000 were still in Sakhalin at the end of World War II, when they came under Sovi­et con­trol, and had great dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting home.

Before 1945, it is believed that over six mil­lion Kore­an men were forced into slave labor bat­tal­ions. Of these, near­ly one mil­lion were sent to Japan. Oth­ers were sent to the Philip­pines or to the Dutch East Indies, to do con­struc­tion work for the Japan­ese Army and navy, and to dig tun­nels and bunkers for war loot, where they were worked to death or buried alive to hide the loca­tions. On August 24, 1945, a group of 5,000 Kore­an slave labor­ers who had spent the war dig­ging a major under­ground com­plex for war loot in Japan’s Aomori Pre­fec­ture, were put aboard the war­ship Ukishi­ma Maru to be ‘tak­en home to Korea.’ The ship sailed first to Maizu­ru Naval base on the west coast of Japan. There the Kore­ans were sealed in the car­go holds, and the ship was tak­en off­shore and scut­tled, by blow­ing a hole in the hull with dyna­mite. Out of 5,000 Kore­ans aboard, only 80 sur­vived. Tokyo claimed that the Kore­ans locked in the hold had scut­tled the ship them­selves. Fifty-sev­en years lat­er, 15 of these sur­vivors, and rel­a­tives of oth­ers, at last won a law­suit against the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment, for com­pen­sa­tion. A court in Kyoto ruled in August 2001 that the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment must pay 3‑million yen (less than $30,000) to each of the plain­tiffs. But the court also ruled that there was no need for the gov­ern­ment of Japan to apol­o­gize for the ‘inci­dent’.

Aside from the six mil­lion Kore­an men dra­gooned as slave labor, tens of thou­sands of young Kore­ans were con­script­ed into the Japan­ese Army, to serve as can­non-fod­der n cam­paigns far to the south, many end­ing up in Bur­ma or New Guinea.

Sad­dest of all were thou­sands of Kore­an girls duped into going to Japan for employ­ment, instead end­ing up in broth­els. It was in Korea that the kem­peitai set up its first offi­cial army broth­els in 1904. These were filled with kid­napped women and girls, fore­run­ners of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Kore­an women lat­er forced to serve as Com­fort Women in army broth­els all over Asia. Kore­ans were tar­get­ed because it was believed that if Japan­ese women and girls were forced into pros­ti­tu­tion for the army, sol­diers might mutiny. The Japan­ese Army to pains to char­ac­ter­ize Kore­an women and girls as mere live­stock. Mer­cy was in short sup­ply. [Again, the late Park Won-soon was out­spo­ken on behalf of the Com­fort Women and against Japan’s colo­nial occu­pa­tion of Korea—D.E.]

Bruce Cum­ings sums up their predica­ment: “Mil­lions of peo­ple used and abused by the Japan­ese can­not get records on what they know to have hap­pened to them, and thou­sands of Kore­ans who worked with the Japan­ese have sim­ply erased that his­to­ry as if it had nev­er hap­pened.” . . . .

3. In our next pro­gram and in pre­vi­ous posts,  we high­light the 1951 “Peace” Treaty between the Allies and Japan, an agree­ment which false­ly main­tained that Japan had not stolen any wealth from the nations it occu­pied dur­ing World War II and that the (already) boom­ing nation was bank­rupt and would not be able to pay repa­ra­tions to the slave labor­ers and “com­fort women” it had pressed into ser­vice dur­ing the con­flict.

Note that the wealth gen­er­at­ed by the cen­turies-long rape of Korea was incor­po­rat­ed into the Gold­en Lily/Black Gold cache and the 1951 Peace Treaty insti­tu­tion­al­ized that theft.

In effect, the U.S. signed off on what was done to Korea (and Chi­na and oth­er Asian nations) with that treaty and the incor­po­ra­tion of the Gold­en Lily trea­sure into the post-World War II glob­al econ­o­my.

In the con­text of the fan­tas­tic sums loot­ed by Japan under the aus­pices of Gold­en Lily and the incor­po­ra­tion of that wealth with Nazi Gold to form the Black Eagle Trust, that 1951 treaty and the advent of the Kore­an War raise some inter­est­ing, unre­solved ques­tions.

One of the prin­ci­pal fig­ures in the loot­ing of occu­pied Asia dur­ing World War II was the remark­able Kodama Yoshio. Net­worked with the pow­er­ful Yakuza Japan­ese orga­nized crime milieu, the Black Drag­on soci­ety (the most pow­er­ful of the patri­ot­ic and ultra-nation­al­ist soci­eties), the Impe­r­i­al Japan­ese mil­i­tary and the Roy­al fam­i­ly of Emper­or Hiro­hi­to, Kodama loot­ed the Chi­nese under­world and traf­ficked in nar­cotics with Chi­ang Kai-shek’s fas­cist nar­co-dic­ta­tor­ship.

We can but won­der about Kodama Yosh­io’s pres­ence along with 1951 “Peace” Treaty author John Fos­ter Dulles at nego­ti­a­tions in Seoul on the eve of the out­break of the Kore­an War.

As dis­cussed in numer­ous pro­grams in an inter­view with Daniel Junas, the Kore­an War was a huge eco­nom­ic boom for Japan, and gen­er­at­ed con­sid­er­able prof­it for Ger­man firms as well. Thyssen, for exam­ple, won lucra­tive con­tracts for mak­ing steel for the war effort. Is there some con­nec­tion between the Kodama/Dulles pres­ence in Seoul on the eve of the out­break of war linked to the Gold­en Lily/Black Eagle/1951 “Peace” Treaty nexus?

Just what WERE Kodama Yoshio and John Fos­ter Dulles up to? It is high­ly unlike­ly that we will ever know.

Gold War­riors by Ster­ling and Peg­gy Sea­grave; Ver­so [SC]; Copy­right 2003, 2005 by Ster­ling and Peg­gy Sea­grave; ISBN 1–84467-531–9; p. 115.

 . . . . In Octo­ber of 1949, the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Chi­na came into being. Eight months lat­er, in June of 1950, the Kore­an War broke out. Just before the war began, Kodama [Yoshio] accom­pa­nied John Fos­ter Dulles to nego­ti­a­tions in Seoul. The Dulles par­ty also includ­ed Kodama’s pro­tege Machii Hisayu­ki, boss of the Kore­an yakuza in Japan. Efforts to dis­cov­er under Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion what Kodama and Machii did dur­ing the trip with Dulles have run into a stone wall. In the MacArthur Memo­r­i­al archive we dis­cov­ered a per­son­al let­ter from Kodama to Gen­er­al MacArthur offer­ing to pro­vide thou­sands of yakuza and for­mer Japan­ese Army sol­diers to fight along­side Amer­i­can sol­diers in Korea. Accord­ing to sources in Korea and Japan, the offer was accept­ed and these men joined the Allied force on the Penin­su­la, pos­ing as Kore­an sol­diers. . . . 

4. The pro­gram con­cludes with the obit­u­ary of gen­er­al Paik Sun-yup of Korea, whose ser­vice in the Impe­r­i­al Japan­ese Army dur­ing World War II has been a focal point of con­tro­ver­sy in South Korea. Gen­er­al Sun-yup embod­ied the ongo­ing con­tro­ver­sy in Korea over Japan’s occu­pa­tion and the sub­se­quent unfold­ing of events lead­ing up to,  and includ­ing the Kore­an War. “. . . . In 1941, he joined the army of Manchukuo, a pup­pet state that impe­r­i­al Japan had estab­lished in Manchuria, and served in a unit known for hunt­ing down Kore­an guer­ril­las fight­ing for inde­pen­dence . . .”

“Paik Sun-yup, South Kore­an Gen­er­al Seen as Hero or Trai­tor, Dies at 99” by Choe Sang-Hun; The New York Times; 7/15/2020; p. A22.

Paik Sun-yup, South Kore­a’s first four-star gen­er­al, who was lion­ized as a Kore­an War hero by the South Kore­an and Unit­ed States mil­i­taries but dis­missed by many in his coun­try as a trai­tor, died here on Fri­day. He was 99. . . .

. . . . Though wide­ly cred­it­ed for lead­ing his troops in a piv­otal bat­tle of the Kore­an War, Mr. Paik was a divi­sive fig­ure in his home coun­try. In 2009, a South Kore­an pres­i­den­tial com­mit­tee put him on a list of “pro-Japan­ese and anti-nation” fig­ures who had col­lab­o­rat­ed with Japan­ese col­o­niz­ers dur­ing their rule of the Kore­an Penin­su­la. . . .

. . . . In 1941, he joined the army of Manchukuo, a pup­pet state that impe­r­i­al Japan had estab­lished in Manchuria, and served in a unit known for hunt­ing down Kore­an guer­ril­las fight­ing for inde­pen­dence, though Mr. Paik said he had nev­er engaged in bat­tles with them.

He was a first lieu­tenant when Japan was defeat­ed in World War II and Korea was lib­er­at­ed. After the coun­try was divid­ed into the pro-Amer­i­can South and the Com­mu­nist North, Mr. Paik was among the Kore­ans in Japan’s colo­nial mil­i­tary who were recruit­ed when the Unit­ed States was help­ing to build a mil­i­tary for the South. . . .

. . . . IF Paik Sun-yup is called a ‘hero,’ what does that make Kore­an inde­pen­dence fight­ers who lost their lives at the hand of his old Manchuria unit?” asked Kim Won-woong, the head of Her­itage of Kore­an Inde­pen­dence, a group rec­og­nized by the gov­ern­ment for its mem­bers’ strug­gle for inde­pen­dence.

“If he real­ly want­ed to be treat­ed like ‘a Kore­an War hero,’ he should at least have expressed repen­tance and remorse for his pro-Japan­ese deed,” Mr. Kim added, in an inter­view pub­lished last year. “But he nev­er has.”

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