Forced Mobilization

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Civilian Labor in the Military Mobilization


Divided into combat support laborers and other support personnel roles (administrators, driver, nurse, prison-of-war guard)

Civilian laborers in the military, referred to as “gunsok” (civilians attached to the military), were largely divided into combat support laborers and other support personnel roles (administrators, driver, nurse, prison-of-war guard). Most of the civilian workers in the military were ‘military laborers’, also called military workman, military hire, or military employee. The prisoner-of-war guards, in particular, were filled with Joseon and Taiwanese people with recruitment in the Korean Peninsula initiated in Jun. 1942.

To determine the allocation numbers of guards, the Joseon General Government used township office officials and police officers to mobilize 3,223 young people, who received training at the Noguchi Unit and were deployed in the prisoner-of-war camps on the Korean Peninsula, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Myanmar, and Thailand. After the war, they were charged as BC-class war criminals for atrocities against prisoners-of-war, and were tried in the Netherlands, Singapore, and Borneo.

Despite having had no choice but to follow orders from their superiors, they were not given any opportunities to mount a defense due to the evasion of responsibility by the Japanese government and the uninformed judgment by the court, who were not provided with accurate details of the colonial situation. This ultimately led to 129 being indicted and the execution of 20 of those convicted.

Mobilization of Civilian Workers in the military
(Unit: person), Japan: 7,213, Joseon: 12,468, Manchuria: 3,852, China: 735, South: 36,400

[Source: 『Committee Activity Report』, the Committee for the Victims of the Forced Mobilization during Resistance to Japan and the Casualties from the Overseas Forced Mobilization, 2016, Page 126.]