Park Chung-hee Swore Loyalty — in Blood — to Japan

The Institute for Research in Collaboration Activities (IRCA) has revealed an article in the March 31, 1939 edition of the Manshu Shimbun, a Japanese-language newspaper printed in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, that told that tale of a young, 23-year-old elementary school teacher in Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea named Park Chung-hee, who — despite being too old — applied to become an officer in the Manchukuo army, sending with his application an oath of loyalty written in his own blood.

Heartwarming stuff.

Unfortunately for Park, his application was rejected. But fault him not for a lack of perseverance — in April 1940, he managed to get into the Manchukuo army academy, graduating with honors in 1942 and receiving as a gift from Manchukuo emperor Puyi. With his good grades, he entered the Japanese army academy in 1942, graduating in 1944. In December of 1944, he became a reserve second lieutenant in the Japanese army and, simultaneously, an infantry second lieutenant in the Manchukuo army. In July 1945, he was promoted to a first lieutenant in the Manchukuo army.

I’m not sure if it’s still the case today, but back when I lived in Mungyeong, the small house in which Park lived when he was a teacher was used as a memorial. In it, it said Park used to privately curse the Japanese to his students. Funny how that works.

Sorry… just love this poster.

  • WangKon936

    All together now!.. Let’s join the East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere!

  • exit86

    Now let’s see the list of other such K. government leaders who had similar experiences.
    (It’d be pretty long . . .)

    Makes me wonder about related issues in the news a year or so ago regarding the seizure of land by the (present day) K. govt. of folks believed to have collaborated with the Japanese.
    What a joke.

  • skookum

    Whoa, I lived in Jeomchon for a year and never heard of that place…. where is it, Mungyeong-eup? One of the myeons?

  • dry

    His ambiguous loyalty highlights that he was one crafty bastard, and I’m surprised that the blood letter didn’t work. Regardless of what is said of him being a Japanese sympathizer, in the end he did try his best at improving Korea instead of jumping ship, helping home companies which eventually would siphon profits which might otherwise be taken by their Japanese equivalents.

  • Robert Koehler

    Yep, it’s in Mungyeong-eup, near Mungyeong Elementary School. The house is called the Cheongungak:

    The second link has the Korean-language information sign. Read it and draw your own conclusions.

  • Pingback: Where do Ajosshis Come From? Part 3: Manchukuo and The Militarization of Daily Life in South Korea « The Grand Narrative()

  • Robert Koehler

    dry – It was a tough time full of tough decisions to make. And sure, in the end, he is the father of the Korean economic miracle. For a military dictator, you could do a lot worse (and many developing countries did).

  • 8675309

    Park Chung-hee is part of that “Japanese Generation,” that on one hand, availed themselves of all the opportunities open to Koreans and other colonial subjects by getting relevant education and practical training in Japan, but on the other, came back to the motherland after V-J day and became part of the Greatest Generation that rebuilt Korea after the Korean War into what she is today.

    Same goes with Singapore’s Lee Kuan-Yew, who also worked for the Japanese during the occupation; Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek who also attended the same Imperial Japanese Army Academy and served as a young officer in the Imperial Japanese Army as Park; and Chiang’s KMT successor, Lee Teng-hui, who attended Kyoto Imperial University.

    I mean, we can go on and on with this list: The founder of Samsung, Lee Byung-chul attended Waseda University in Tokyo during the occupation period, and many of Park Chung-hee’s and Chun Doo-hwan’s cabinet level political appointees obtained degrees in Japan during the war years, most significant of who were Korean alumni of Tokyo Imperial University, or what is now called “Tokyo Daigaku.”

    Seriously, Marmot, what of it?

  • seouldout

    Seriously, … what of it?

    Today’s rabid anti-Japanese histrionics – by those who weren’t on this earth in those days – strike me as a bit rich.

    An unbalanced people wrapping themselves up a yin-yang flag…brilliant irony.

  • NewYorkTom

    Most of the Koreans in that generation who survived were all 친일파. It’s just the degree of how you were involved that is now the subject of who’s guilty of what and who has done what to whom. It’s all bullshit. PCH is still, to me, the greatest leader Korea has ever produced including Sejong.

  • R. Elgin

    An unbalanced people wrapping themselves up a yin-yang flag…brilliant irony.

    You are absolutely correct in that the people who have been accused of “collaboration” can not speak for themselves and apparently, it is easy politics to slander the dead.

  • DLBarch

    Hey, pal, that’s Takaki Masao to you!


  • pawikirogii

    ‘An unbalanced people wrapping themselves up a yin-yang flag…brilliant irony.’

    the reall irony is you don’r seem to see that you’re unbalanced yourself.
    go play marbles in the highway, k?

    ps how long has it been since you left korea?and are you related to mizar/vince/shakuhachi/bevers? just wondering.

  • lastnamekim

    This is an interesting post. However, it’s not a surprising one. Do we need to get into the character of this Park? We all know what a ruthless person he was…so, why wouldn’t he do what he had to in order to advance himself during the Japanese occupation period. We’re talking about the same guy who continued with his speech when his wife was shot right in front of his eyes. Just as NY Tom and 8765 pointed out, that generation was different and really, they didn’t have too many choices.

  • R. Elgin

    I think someone, one day, will write an opera based upon PCH simply because he was not a simple villain or hero but a complex man of his times who enjoyed great virtues that were corrupted by great vices.
    I only hope whoever writes the libretto and music are worth a damn and not subject to politics either.

  • hoihoi3
  • hoihoi3
  • joshua

    I don’t absolve Park for being a fascist, but at least he can offer the lame excuse of making difficult compromises with an occupier. So what’s Chung Dong-Young’s excuse?

    Korean history has been one big endless loop since September 1945.

  • Peter Kim

    The caption says that “With the cooperation of Japan, China, and Manchukuo, the world can be in peace.” Manchukuo is an inheritant nation of Qing dynasty. It seems that Japan did not consider Manchukuo as China.

  • Peter Kim

    The late president Park has an odd carrier in his life. He was originally a teacher who graduated Daegu College of Education. Later, he entered into Japanese military academy in Manchuria. He graduated the academy with the first place and it is said that he got golden watch for the prize from Pǔyí, the last Emperor of Qing dynasty (Machukuo).

    In 1948, Park was arrested and sentenced to death because he joined in Namrodang (South Labour Party), which was a communist party secretly active in South Korea before the Korean War. It is said that his brother was also a member of the South Labour Party and killed by a right wing activist. It is also said that Park saved his life by revealing the list of active communists in South Korea.

    During Korean War he served in the Korean army and was recognized his proficiency in the military. After he became a president, he adopted very strong policy against communism. During his administration, Korea had achieved a lot of economic development. Actually, until 1960’s, South Korea was poorer than the North in economy. Even during the early 1970’s, South Korea was not wealthier than the North. His long-standing military dictatorship, however, resulted in his tragic death. If he retired from the presidency early in his career, then he might have been remembered more as a hero who gave Koreans courage and confidence in overcoming extreme poverty.

  • Peter Kim

    correction: carrier –> career –;

  • theotherkorean

    Park Chung-hee was no different than this protege, Chub Doo-hwan. They assessed the situation, figured out how to and later took full advantage of it.

    They are no different than many Koreans, who won’t hesitate to sell their souls to their devils, or at the least for the female ones smile, make sweet talk, and spread their legs wide if they think that can get a step up in life.

    Maybe, the reason why some Koreans overreact when they hear of PCH’s Japanese exploits is because they are seeing a reflection of themselves.

  • theotherkorean

    Oops, Chub -> Chun

  • yuna

    yes, it’s true. polar people. i think actually both sides know the score and admit the other sides’ arguments in their hearts but they just like to vocalize only one side..
    he might have been not as bad as chunduwhan but i just don’t understand people who think that he was some sort of a hero, including his deluded daughter, who’s nearly on a par with kimjungil by the sheltered life she seems to have had.
    however, i know a lot of the older cronies and well-to-do people and their offsprings in korea do not think this, and think that kdj was some sort of a crook, and hark back to the parkjunghee days…

  • Peter Kim

    They are no different than many Koreans, who won’t hesitate to sell their souls to their devils, or at the least for the female ones smile, make sweet talk, and spread their legs wide if they think that can get a step up in life.

    I am sorry you sound like having had really bad experiences with Koreans, especially Korean girls.

  • Peter Kim

    The late president Kim DJ had contributed a lot for the democratization of Korea. I remember him as a very smart man full of humor. Park was a very strict father figure, while Kim DJ gave an impression of a kind gentleman. While both of them represents Korean regionalism of Kyeongsang vs. Jeolla provinces, it was a very humane gesture of president Kim DJ when he gave pardons to Chun DH and Roh TW.

    Both Park and Kim DJ have contributions and errors. Park’s military style brought severe problems in human right issues, while Kim DJ’s approach to North Korea with black money resulted in elongation of the ruthless Kim JI regime and A-bomb and missile development. At least Kim JI was able to sustain his military with the bribery. I do not believe that it was used for feeding the hungry North Korean folks.

  • theotherkorean

    I am sorry you sound like having had really bad experiences with Koreans, especially Korean girls.

    One of the more esteemed commentators here, once called Koreans “pigs in a trough.”

    Considering that, I guess it would be naive to expect something different or brighter.

  • theotherkorean

    Anyway Peter, I’m assuming that you’re a Kyopo, because from your comment, you have absolutely no idea about the nitty gritty of Korean society.

  • Peter Kim


    Yes, I am a Gyopo, but I am not a second generation. I have been in the States only five years and most of my life I grew up in Korea. Yes, there are many horrible Koreans you only have met. And at the same time, there are also many good Koreans you seem to have never met.

  • Mizar5

    Stop the bitch slapping each other over nothing of consequence and make up, Peter and Theotherkorean.

  • dry

    PSA: Quoting “esteemed internet commentator” as a source of thoughts is the easiest way to proclaim that they are stupid.

  • Koreansentry

    Old news.
    Everyone knew about Park involvement with Pro-Japan inside Korea. During Park’s presidency periods, Korean government was ran by Chinilpa and thus created issues like today’s Dokdo, Tsushima and historical distortion.

    I’m guessing this is something do with rise of popularity of Ms. Geunhae Park (daughter of Gen. JH Park). May be Lee Myunbak is insecure about his position and trying to lower Ms. Park’s popularity.