Korea: Living as descendants of Japanese collaborators in Korea

On the second of this month, the Korean government decided to take over land belonging to the families of nine Korean collaborators of the Japanese during the Japanese colonization period (1910-1945). Their land, 255,000 sq.m, which is estimated at 3.6 billion won (4 million US dollars), will be taken from their descendants. The land that they obtained from 1904 (Russo-Japanese War) to 1945 (Independence Day of Korea) was investigated this time. The property will be used for financial support for independent activists’ descendants and events related to them. It is just 0.64 percent of the whole land that these nine collaborators owned at that time. In addition, other kinds of properties they obtained, such as cash and gold, were not included. This issue has been around for several decades but this was the first time that the court did not acknowledge the appeal of the Japanese collaborators’ descendants. The special inspection committee for this case plans to investigate more people who are on a name list.

A netizen, Cotone commented on this decision,

고작 36억!? 이건 도대체…-_-;;

Only 3.6 billion won? What on earth is this?

Cheo0ho had a different view,

참 어려운 문제다.
이렇게 해서 민족의 정기가 바로잡히고 3.1운동의 헌법정신이 구현될 수 있을까?
그동안 그래 해방된지 60년 동안 이렇게 하지 않아서
민족의 정기가 바로 잡히지 않고 헌법정신이 엉망이 되었다는 말인가?
그렇다면 6.25전쟁을 일으키고 동족을 말살하려한 사람들,
이에 부역하고 동조한 사람들에 대하여도 이런 법률이 만들어져야 하는 거 아닌가?
임진왜란때 일본사람에게 부역한 사람은?
당나라와 원나라의 침공시 이에 부역한 사람은?
정말 어디까지 과거를 뒤집고 어디까지 밝혀야 된다는 것인가?
절대로 그들의 행위를 잊어서는 안되겠지만
이제 그만 용서해줄 때도 되지 않았나?
아니 아직 용서해주면 안 될지도 모르겠다.
그렇다고 하더라도 아니 그들의 자손들은 무슨 죄가 있다는 것인가?

It is a really difficult question.
Does this process really help to straighten our spirit and embody our constitutional principles of the March First Independence Movement?
We have not done this for 60 years since liberation. Has it really blocked our spirit and screwed up the constitutional principles?
Then, how about Koreans who massacred their brothers and sisters in the Korean War? Don’t we have to make the similar law for these people?
How about Koreans who worked as laborers for the Japanese during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592?
How about Koreans who served the Tang and Yuan Kingdoms of China when they attacked us?
How far do we have to look at the past and how much do we have to clarify?
We should not forget what they did, but isn’t it enough to forgive them? Or maybe we should not forgive them yet. Regardless of it, their descendants have not done anything wrong.

Some bloggers analyzed how major newspapers which have been regarded as having collaborated with the Japanese at that time deal with this issue from the 2nd, compared to other newspapers.
Blogger, Ganeun I:

신문들은 3일과 4일자에 걸쳐 이를 빠짐없이 보도했다. 3일자 경향 국민 한겨레 한국은 1면 머리기사 혹은 상단 기사로 편집하고 관련내용을 한 면 전체를 털어 보도했다. 서울과 세계도 1면 머리기사로 배치한 뒤 사설이나 칼럼으로 의미를 평가했다.
반면 동아와 중앙은 1면 하단에 작게 보도하고 관련기사를 한 꼭지만 실었다. 중앙은 하루 뒤인 4일 뒤늦게 사설을 썼다.
조선은 1면 머리기사 옆에 1단짜리 박스로 실은 뒤 관련기사는 싣지 않았다.

Newspapers competitively reported this news on the third and fourth. On the third, Kyonghyang, Kookmin, Hankyoreh and Hankook put this news as scoops or top news on the first page of the paper. Seoul and Segye also put them as scoops on the first page and through editorials and columns they explained the meaning of this action.
However, DongA and JoongAng gave a small space for this news on the bottom part of the first page and JoongAng put an editorial on the fourth. Chosun used a small box next to the scoop on the first page and didn’t put any other articles.

Some bloggers put the politicians’ names which objected to this decision and especially marked the bold line of Park Geun-hye who is a previous representative from the Grand National Party and daughter of the dictator, Park Chung-hee.

A blogger, “Lady with two daughters,” elaborated on why this action is necessary.

이 글을 쓰면서 굉장히 흥분되고 화가 나니 글이 잘 전개가 안되네요…^^::
여러분들은 과연 어떤가요??
친일파들의 후손이라는것도 창피하고 국민과 나라에 반성하며 그때 받은
자기들의 조상들이 받은 재산을 자진으로 헌납해도 용서를 해줄까 말까하는
형편인데 오히려 법에 호소하며 그런 재산을 지키려는 후손들..

While I am writing this, I cannot even write well because of my anger…^^::
What do you think??
It is a shame to be descendants of Japanese collaborators. They could be considered forgiven if they had an attitude of feeling ashamed to be descendants of Japanese collaborators, reflecting on the country and the people, volunteering to donate the properties, and asking forgiveness. On the contrary, they appealed in court in order to try to keep their properties.

물론 그럴수도 있습니다. 후손들의 의지와는 상관없이 조상들이
잘못 판단해서 친일 행적을 했다고 말 입니다.
그렇다고 그 후손들에게 죄를 물을수는 없습니다.
그러면 사람이고 대한민국의 국민이면 그때 받은 재산은 사회에 환원하고
반성의 생을 사는게 올바른 길이라 생각 합니다.
국가는 그들에게 역사의 심판을 묻지않고 똑같은 대한민국 국민으로
대우하고 있습니다.

It could be. They could say, bearing no relation to the descendants’ intentions, their ancestors made the wrong decision and contributed to the Japanese. We cannot ask the descendants to feel guilty. As a human and the people of this country, it is the right way that they donate the properties their ancestors earned to the society and reflect on the conduct of their ancestors. The country has not given them history’s judgment and has treated them equal to other people.

나라 팔아먹은 댓가로 받은 재산을 국가가 환수하는 것은 당연하다고 생각합니다
아니 지금도 시기상으로 늦은감이 있다고 생각합니다.
진작에 이런 조치가 취해져야 했습니다.
여기서 우려 할점은 무엇이냐면 법원 판결에 국가의 손을 들어준 경우도 있지만
반대로 친일파 후손들의 손을 들어준 경우도 있다는 것입니다.
글쎄요 과연 국가를 팔아먹은 사람들,그 당사자는 아니러다도 책임이
자유로울수 없는사람들에게 정상 적인 법 기준을 적용하는 것이 과연 옳을까요???
이런 사람들에겐 칭일파 특별법을 제정해서 그때 받은 재산을 모두 환수해야 합니다.

I think it is reasonable for the redemption of Japanese collaborators’ properties that they earned through selling their country. As a matter of fact, it is a little bit late. It should have been done much earlier. What we should recognize is the law was sometimes on the side of the country, but other times it was on the side of these Japanese collaborators’ descendants. Is it right to apply the standard law to the people who sold their own country even though they are not the very people who did it at that time??? We should enact a special law for these kinds of people and should take their properties back.

그런데 자기 이익을 위해 국가를 팔아먹은 사람들의 후손이
나라 판 돈으로 모은 재산을 지키겠다고 법에 호소를 한다???
아마 이런 사람들이 자유롭게 생활하고 자기 목소리 내는 나라는 전세계에서
대한 민국 뿐이 없을 것이라는 생각이 듭니다.
친일파 후손 여러분들….여러분들에게 죄를 묻지는 않겠습니다.
다만 조상들이 지은죄를 대신 반성하는 의미에서 조상이 나라 팔아먹고 받은 재산
국가에 헌납하시고 조용한 생활하시면 우리 국민들은 여러분들에게 손가락질
하지 않겠습니다.

The descendants of the Japanese collaborators who sold the country for their own sakes appeal under the law to keep their properties??? Korea must be the only country which these kinds of people live well and demand their own rights.
The descendants of the Japanese collaborators! I won’t ask what crimes your ancestors committed. But on the respects of reconsidering what your ancestors have done, you should donate the properties that your ancestors earned through selling our country and we people will not point the finger of blame.

2 comments

  • Interesting!

    I was just thinking of doing a post on this topic, from the Japanese point-of-view. I might still do it next week, to explore differences in the way Korean people and Japanese people view this issue.

  • […] Voices Online has a fascinating piece on the fates of those Koreans who collaborated with the Japanese during the period when Japan controlled the peninsula. On May 2, the Korean government announced it […]

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