|The Japanese Occupation and the Korean War
The Japanese occupation and the Korean War had a terrible impact on the whole Korean Peninsula in the 20th century.
Japanese rule of Korea began with the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, whereby a complex coalition of Japanese government,
military, and business officials sought to integrate Korea both politically and economically into the Empire of Japan, first as a
protectorate through the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905, and then officially annexed in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910. Japanese
rule was brutal. Following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the impending overrun of the Korean
peninsula by Russian forces, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on 15 August 1945, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation.
In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and—by agreement with the United States—occupied Korea north of the
38th parallel. U.S. Forces subsequently occupied the south and Japan surrendered. By 1948, two separate governments had been
set up. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent.
The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—invaded South
Korea on 25 June 1950.
This was a brutal war. Scholars estimate that there were 1,200,000 military casualties in the war..Civilian casualties in the DPRK are
estimated to have been as high as 20% of the population. The capital city of Pyongyang was pulvarized.
Despite the historical evidence, North Koreans are taught and believe that the Korean War was started by the United States in an
effort to colonize Korea. Numerous monuments and museums vividly recount the story of US aggression and atrocities. Graphic
depictions are used to inspire the support and loyalty of the citizens of the DPRK.
Our very first stop in Pyongyang was at a cemetery for soldiers of the Korean War.
On our second day we took a tour of
thePyongyang Victorious War
Museum. This was our personal guide
for the morning tour.
Outside, we saw numerous well maintained military vehicles and aircraft.
The most important exhibit in the outdoors is the USS Pueblo. The Pueblo was seized by the DPRK in 1968 and is the only ship of
the U.S. Navy still on the commissioned roster currently being held captive.
The Pueblo was a spy ship and this was the encryption room. According to the US, the ship was in international waters, but the
DPRK claimed it was in their territorial waters. A 236-page history of the Pueblo affair, written by the National Security Agency in
1992, indicated that the ship's capture was one of the biggest intelligence debacles in U.S. history — "everyone's worst
nightmare.". The crew reported upon release that they were starved and regularly tortured while in North Korean custody. This
treatment allegedly turned worse when the North Koreans realized that crewmen were secretly giving them "the finger" in staged
While we were touring the Pueblo, they told us that
the only living survivor of the three men who
captured Commander Lloyd M. Bucher was often
in the area and gave lectures about the Pueblo.
When we exited the Pueblo, we found him sitting
under a tree. I asked if I could take his picture and
he said yes, but only if we had our picture with him
After the Pueblo, we took a tour of the museum. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take pictures. The building was huge inside
and simply amazing. It included beautiful lits statutes of the two Kims just inside the entrance. The museum commemorates both
the Japanese occupation as well as the Korean War. Our guide told us it would take four days to take us through the museum, so
as might be expected, she took us on a tour of the portion dealing with the Korean war. At the end of the tour we crossed through a
long elaborate enclose across the river to a panorama beyond belief. It was a HUGE depiction of the war with the US. When I say
HUGE, I mean REALLY HUGE. It is reputedly the biggest panorama in the world.The stairway came up in the center and we sat
down and in our chairs while the platform moved slowly in a circle as we watched the depiction of the Battle of Daejon, now in South
We did take these pictures outside of
statutes depicting DPRK soldiers.
The Sinchon Museum of United States War Atrocities recalls the deaths of over 35,000 people in a series of events occurring from
October 17 to December 7, 1950 when the main cities of North Korea were occupied by the United States and UN troops.
The methods of killing, as recounted in the Museum, are brutal: Local officials of the Korean Workers' Party were burned alive,
buried alive, shot, had their arms pulled off, and had nails pounded into their heads. As several of these individuals died, displays
in the museum recall, they denounced American imperialism and shouted "Long live General Kim Il Sung! Long live the Workers'
Party of Korea!" Civilians in Sinchon, including women, youth, and children, were said to have suffered badly as well. According to
the Museum, American soldiers raped women and then killed them, and separated infants from their mothers and proceeded to
burn them to death. Many farm implements are displayed at the museum which were used in the killing. Many of the torture
methods described above are greatly denied, by the U.S. Government.
The Institute for Korean Historical Studies, summarized in a Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation report, concluded that both
Communists and anti-Communist vigilantes were engaging in wholesale slaughter throughout the area, and that the 19th Infantry
Regiment took the city and failed to prevent the secret police that came with them from perpetuating the civilian murders, but did
not participate themselves. Furthermore, when Communists retook the city, the population was again purged. Other sources have
concluded that the "massacre" was caused by a local rivalry that used the fog of war as a pretense.
Inside we were permitted to take pictures of paintings depicting the alleged American atrocities. All of the atrocities in the paintings
are perpetuated by American soldiers. The soldiers are calm, smirking, and smoking cigarattes.
The woman on the right was our guide going through the museum. The picture
above depicts American soldiers tearing a DPRK official apart using oxen.
According to our guide, the man pictured at the right was the son of the man
depicted in the picture above. She said he was the lone survivor in a building
where children were massacred that day.
At the end of the tour, the guide turned to us and asked us to go back and tell
the American people about these atrocities. She was very sincere and very
moved as she made the request. Her tone was the same as other guides telling
us about alleged atrocities during the war.
My response through our English speaking guide was that war is awful and bad
things happen in war. Soldiers on all sides do bad things. They seemed
astonished when I said that I abhor war and had avoided serving in the military.
I noted that war can be a technique for leaders to rally citizens to support their
leaders and become distracted from the real issues of social welfare.
As of 2013, with 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel, the DPRK has the fourth largest military organization on
Earth. This number represents nearly 40% of the population, and is the numeric equivalent of the entire population between ages
20 and 45.
During the week of our visit, there was a huge military parade celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the labor party. Unfortunately, we
did not get to see the parade. We did see these people preparing to participate in the parade.
|Soldiers at the flower show.
|Jets flying over the military parade.
|Cemetery honoring soldiers killed fighting the Japanese.
|Students taking notes at the grave sites.
All of the guides for our tours associated with alleged atrocities were women. All were very sincere and very intense and emotional.
The villain is always the United States and not the South Koreans or the United Nations. This is the glue that holds together the