The Bad Old Days

The following images represent memories most Koreans would rather forget...

The 20th Century was a very tumultuous time for Korea. Korea lost its sovereignty when it was ruled by the Empire of Japan from 1905-1945.   The Japanese, fearing that they were going to be the next target for European colonialism in the late 1800s (and with their own healthy sense of chauvanism), felt it necessary to start playing the role of conquerer, too.   The Japanese ruled Korea by means of a colonial government.   This photo shows the Government General building, the seat of Japanese power in Korea during that time, with Governor General Minami and Vice-Governor Ohno, from about 1932.   This building survived the colonial period and the Korean Civil War, after which it was used to house the Republic of Korea´s National Assembly (Kukhwe).   The building was demolished in 1995 (with cooler heads prevailing over others who wanted to blow it up with TNT).   The spire of the building´s dome was cut off and is now on display at the Independence Hall near Ch'onan.
This is a World War II wartime "patriotic bond" of 5 Yen, issued in Korea by the Japanese regime in March 1944 (Showa 19th).   Koreans were expected to be patriotic citizens of the Japanese empire, and many had to do labor and military service for Japan during the Pacific War.   In addition, upwards of 150,000 Korean women were taken as sex slaves for the Japanese military.
An image from the Korean Civil War, September 1950.   Here, North Korean army POWs on Wolmi Island are forced to strip completely naked and keep their hands held up.   Such treatment of POWs was, and still is, actually against the Geneva Convention.   POWs are supposed to be able to keep their clothes, boots, helmets, canteens and gas masks, while all else can be taken away from them.   The war was nasty and brutal and is something that most Koreans would rather forget.   Koreans have been trying since the end of the war to get their country known world-wide for other, better things than just the war.
A South Korean propaganda leaflet.   This one was intended for the those Koreans in the North, who hosted the Chinese Army on their soil during the war.   The leaflet alludes to the idea that the Chinese are a hungry lot and that they are no good to have hanging around when you are hungry yourself!
A North Korean "Safe-Conduct" pass/leaflet that enticed Koreans in the South to come to the North.
After the Korean war, animosity between the opposing sides continued, with the USA maintaining its military in the South.   The North would send balloons filled with leaflets to drift over the DMZ.   This leaflet says: "Death to the American bastards."   It was illegal for South Koreans to possess such leaflets, and if they found them, they were told to contact the police.
The North Koreans fostered and maintained relations with other sympathetic regimes around the world, joining the non-aligned movement in the 1970s, and portrayed itself as a victim of US aggression.   This 1968 Cuban poster advocated solidarity with the North and its struggle against the USA.
More North Korean cold-war leaflets.   This one mentions the 1980 Kwangju uprising.
Another leaflet from the North.   Many Koreans look forward to the day when the hostility of the national division will be a thing of the past.

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