In the Korea Times, Mike Breen takes the Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Imperialism to task for its recent absolving of 83 convicted Korean Class B and Class C war criminals. Read it in its entirety; this is just a sample:
They [the war criminals] were not tried as soldiers or POW camp guards who had done their jobs. They were tried for over-zealousness, for decisions and actions over and above the call of duty. They were the thugs, the brutes, the monsters, the most horrible of the “horrible people” my father’s friend knew. By what authority does the Truth Commission have to remove their individual responsibility with its class act defense of nationality? Such skewed morality led to the crimes against the lowest class _ “prisoners” _ in the first place. People who committed crimes against humanity are not innocent by virtue of being Korean any more than Japanese who brutalized Koreans are innocent by virtue of being Japanese.
Meanwhile, the Oranckay notes something about this whole episode that is probably very pertinent:
What annoys me is that one hears sympathy for men who would be called collaborators if they had been working in prisons that held fellow Koreans during colonial rule. Their prisoners were (largely) white, however, so they are afforded as much understanding as possible. And they get to be called “victims.”
My sentiments exactly. Had those men done what they did as guards at, say, Seodaemun Prison rather than the South Pacific or Southeast Asia, I doubt very much that a governmental commission would sympathize with the “double pain” they’d been forced to bear.