[KS] Koreans in Japanese Internment Camps in WW II?

Yuh Ji-Yeon j-yuh at northwestern.edu
Thu Oct 21 17:11:45 EDT 2004

The United Korean Committee sent representatives to Washington, D.C. and 
convinced U.S. officials that Koreans should not be interned with Japanese 
Americans. The State and Treasury Departments issued a special order 
stating that Koreans should not be treated as Japanese subjects and enemy 
aliens but instead should be accorded the same treatment as citizens of 
allied nations. So Koreans were not interned.

The United Korean Committee issued ID badges with the Korean flag and urged 
all Koreans to carry these badges as proof that they were not Japanese. 
Many Koreans also wore buttons saying "I am Korean." This was actually 
quite common: Many Asian Americans wore  buttons or put up signs in their 
store windows or living room windows saying things like "I am Chinese" or 
"I am Korean." There are many reports of Koreans and Chinese in the U.S. 
being harassed and attacked by white Americans who mistook them for Japanese.

Many Koreans joined the war effort. They went to work for the U.S. as 
Japanese language interpreters, teachers and translators. Some joined the 
army and received training as agents to be sent into Korea and other 
Japanese-occupied areas. I don't know, though, whether anyone actually went 
and what happened on these missions.

I also do not know if any Korean Americans were detained as Japanese 
subjects by the United States before the special order was issued by the 
U.S. government. I don't think so, but I haven't done the research to 
confirm that.


At 07:42 AM 2004.10.21, you wrote:
>I assume that this means "Internment camps for Japanese". If so, then I am 
>sure that many Koreans were detained - Koreans were, after all, viewed 
>internationally as Japanese citizens _ nothing to do with taking Japanese 
>names, but a consequence of the annexation of Korea in 1910 and its 
>subsequent status as a Japanese colony.
>I do not have the details to hand, but in the British case, Koreans were 
>officially enemy aliens until the 1952 Japanese Peace Treaty. This was 
>true even after the establishment of the ROK, which Britain recognized. 
>However, while this remained the legal position after 1948, as far as I 
>know in fact nobody tried to treat Koreans as Japanese citizens after 
>1948. Before that, of course, a number of Koreans were tried as minor war 
>criminals by British (and other) courts. The relevant papers on much of 
>this can be found in the FO371 and WO series of papers at the National 
>Archives in Kew.
>Jim Hoare
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Bert Edens" <bedens at apprenticeis.com>
>To: <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 6:34 PM
>Subject: [KS] Koreans in Japanese Internment Camps in WW II?
>>Greetings, all...
>>Does anyone know of any documented occurrences of Koreans being 
>>incarcerated in one of the many Japanese internment camps during World 
>>War II? It seems plausible considering the hysteria and general lack of 
>>knowledge regarding the difference between Asians. Considering also that 
>>Koreans were also subject to using Japanese names during the occupation, 
>>it could be even more possible, although I would assume Koreans here 
>>would have not used Japanese names.
>>Thank you in advance for your time...
>>- Bert Edens

Yuh, Ji-Yeon
Assistant Professor of History
Associate Director of Asian American Studies
Northwestern University
Harris 202
1881 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208 USA
j-yuh at northwestern.edu
fax: 1-847-467-1393
[The Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea---<www.asck.org> ]

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list