A government panel said Friday it has found evidence that indicates an uprising of some 700 Koreans at a Japanese military base in the 1940s in protest against their forced labor.
The Commission on Verification and Support for the Victims of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Colonialism in Korea, affiliated with the Prime Minister’s Office, said the discovery was based on records of the prison life of Kim Sun-keun, who led the uprising, and testimonies of his family.
In August 1943, a 23-year-old Kim saw another laborer being assaulted by a Japanese supervisor at a military base in Hiroshima city of Kure and demanded an apology.
As the supervisor refused, Kim gathered about 700 colleagues and sticks and stormed his residence. The records said dozens of Japanese instructors feared for their lives and three of them suffered injuries that would take a month to heal.
Kim was arrested along with 28 other laborers, and sentenced to four years in prison in 1944 before dying from tuberculosis shortly after that.
The evidence marks the first verified revolt by Korean laborers at a Japanese military facility, the commission said.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, nearly 227,000 Koreans have reported their forced labor at Japanese firms and military bases during the colonial rule.
But some scholars project that the number of Koreans put into forced labor between April 1938 and Korea’s liberation in August 1945 may have reached 8 million.
Hiroshima was a major supply and logistics base for the Japanese military during World War II.
By Shin Hyon-hee