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I have started this thread because I received an email from my friend Wazza on Sunday. here is his intro. The email contains a V-E-R-Y long report headed:   Fighting talk, more missiles: does this mean war for Kim Jong-un?  


Have you ever pondered the world of the two Koreas ?
This “Explainer” is taken from today’s Sun Herald.  (Sunday 18 Feb)
North Korea poses a significant threat to world stability - already under duress where many countries are existing with all manner of dire conflicts.
Peace in our time ?   -  Ha !  Mankind’s inability to co-exist peacefully is dooming us all.


I don't wish to precis the article. I will copy and post the whole article if you are interested. Some of you may have seen the article.

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I've learned not to say what I think or comment on information I am presented with. I will  present it as I received it, and let the usual suspects tear it apart.


Fighting talk, more missiles: does this mean war for Kim Jong-un?


The North Korean leader has flipped on his dynasty’s policy of reunifying with the South. Does this spell trouble? Angus Holland and Jackson Graham report.


The Korean peninsula is the perfect social experiment, says Victor Cha, a top US adviser on North Korea. ‘‘Let’s take two people, the same people, the same blood, put them in two different political systems and look at how things turn out.’’


Asia affairs director to George W. Bush, Cha is one of a handful of outsiders this century to cross overland into South Korea from the impoverished ‘‘hermit kingdom’’. ‘‘I never saw a traffic jam because nobody has a car,’’ he says. ‘‘I saw people waiting 30- or 40-deep for a bus, or 10 people waiting to use a payphone.’’


The journey through mile after mile of ‘‘just barren farmland’’ in the north to the industrial plants and traffic-packed highways of South Korea was a ‘‘blindingly obvious’’ illustration of how that experiment has turned out. ‘‘This is what happens when you have two different political systems and one is very successful and one is an abject failure.’’


Yet North Korea’s regime has proven very successful in one crucial area – keeping an iron grip on power. The Kim family dynasty spruiks a largely fictional account of its quasireligious origins while hammering home an omnipresent threat of war to its 26 million people.


Now, after a tentative thaw with the South in pre-COVID times, leader Kim Jong-un has ramped up his threats again, along with the missile tests for which his nation is so well known.


Some Korea experts are worried. Could his next step be actual conflict? Why does Kim Jong-un do what he does? And how did his family rise to power in the first place?




The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is renowned for its sabrerattling. But what Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has said and done recently has raised hackles among regime-watchers. Late last year, North Korea claimed to have made its first successful launch of a military satellite. It also test-fired what observers believed was a type of intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, called the Hwasong (HS)-18, which could reach the United States. South Korea called the launch a ‘‘grave provocation’’. The regime has already test-fired at least four more rockets of varying types so far in 2024, says the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington DC.


At the same time, Kim Jong-un has signalled what amounts to a historic change in North Korean government policy, abandoning his dynasty’s longstated goal of peaceful unification with the south, which dates back to the North-South Joint Communique of 1972. Instead, he has called South Korea a ‘‘primary foe and invariable principal enemy’’; and said the constitution would now state that North Korea would pursue ‘‘occupying, subjugating and reclaiming’’ South Korea if another war was to erupt on the Korean Peninsula. ‘‘We do not want war,’’ he told the Supreme People’s Assembly, ‘‘but we also have no intention of avoiding it.’’ He has since shuttered government departments that focused on reunification; and, ever-conscious of Brutalist-era symbolism, ordered the destruction of a massive arch built under his father’s rule in 2001 that spanned the Reunification Highway, which leads south from Pyongyang, describing it as an ‘‘eyesore’’.


For analysts Robert Carlin, a former senior US State Department official, and Siegfried Hecker, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear program, such signs are unusually ominous. ‘‘The situation on the Korean Peninsula is more dangerous than it has been at any time since early June 1950,’’ they wrote in an essay published in January on the 38 North website. ‘‘That may sound overly dramatic, but we believe that, like his grandfather in 1950, Kim Jongun has made a strategic decision to go to war.’’ The danger, they added, ‘‘Is already far beyond the routine warnings in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo about Pyongyang’s ‘provocations’.’’


What of the routinely expressed opinion that Kim would not go to war because he ‘‘knows’’ Washington and Seoul would destroy his regime if he did? ‘‘If this is what policymakers are thinking, it is the result of a fundamental misreading of Kim’s view of history and a grievous failure of imagination that could be leading (on both Kim’s and Washington’s parts) to a disaster.’’ To break with his dynasty’s policy, they say, Kim must have seen all other options as exhausted; particularly after all he ‘‘risked and lost’’ when talks with president Trump on normalising relations failed in 2019 – ‘‘a traumatic loss of face’’.


As Carlin and Hecker predicted, their essay met with cold water from other analysts. Some believe North Korea’s support for Russia’s Ukraine war – its artillery rounds are showing up in battlefields in Ukraine – indicate it is a long way from preparing for its own conflict. Yet not everyone is convinced it’s business as usual.


‘‘This seems to be something slightly different,’’ says Daniel Pieper, Korea Foundation lecturer at Monash University, who notes: ‘‘When it comes to nuclear weapons, I think that there’s been a shift in Western nations that it’s too late to really prevent the program. Any kind of negotiations that include giving up their nuclear program are really doomed to failure.’’


Yet Victor Cha believes the dictator’s recent actions are not as serious as previous provocations since they are reversible (razed arch excepted). But that doesn’t mean the regime won’t try to goad the South Korean government into retaliating, Cha says. ‘‘They will do more missile tests for sure but if they try to carry out some sort of conventional lethal provocation against South Korea, that has a much higher chance of escalating.’’


The North has long been testing the limits of its maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea. In 2022, it fired a missile into South Korean waters, triggering air-raid alerts; and in 2010, it bombarded the South’s Yeonpyeong Island with artillery, killing four people. ‘‘If something like that were to happen, that wouldn’t be good,’’ Cha says. ‘‘If it were a progressive government in South Korea they would probably give the benefit of the doubt to North Korea, but this conservative government is not going to ask any questions; it’s going to just respond.’’ South Korea has one of the world’s biggest artillery stockpiles and hosts around 29,000 US soldiers as well as a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system designed to shoot down missiles from the North. National elections are coming up in April.


Here’s another read: Kim’s shift on reunification could be aimed largely at bolstering internal support for the regime, the classic Orwellian move of diverting focus from domestic woes. ‘‘[It’s] emphasising an external enemy, pushing people’s attention away from the severe economic issues they’re facing,’’ says Robert Lauler, the English editor of news outlet Daily NK. Border closures with China since the pandemic, floods and drought and sanctions targeting the regime have worsened food shortages in the North.


‘‘They can’t sustain even their own population through their own agriculture,’’ says Euan Graham, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ‘‘They are reliant on China.’’


Meanwhile, Western popular culture, especially from affluent South Korea, continues to leak into the North. Hence, Kim’s shift in tone is ‘‘more a way to take South Korea out of the North Korean mindset’’, says Graham. ‘‘Behind all this is really an attempt to carve out a more independent identity for North Korea.’’




Living standards remain appalling by Western measures. Food shortages are unsurprising. Personal car use is rare. Yet this is not the Dark Ages: mobile phones are commonplace, says Simon Cockerell, who, as general manager of Korea specialist Koryo Tours, was a frequent visitor to North Korea between 2002 and 2020. That said, the phones are largely used for talking as few North Koreans have access to the internet. Those who want to typically do so in a public building such as the Grand People’s Study House library in Pyongyang and are limited to sites within the local intranet, known as Kwangmyong – meaning ‘‘bright light’’


– a closely monitored depository of technical papers, domestic news from the regime and internal email. Only a few thousand of the well-vetted elite have access to the global net.




As president, Donald Trump nicknamed Kim Jong-un ‘‘Little Rocket Man’’, which is how many in the West most often see him: gleefully watching another rocket headed off towards the Sea of Japan. He has indeed ramped up North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests since the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, who entrenched songun, or ‘‘military-first’’ as government policy. Since 2011, North Korea has test-fired more than 220 missiles with varying ranges, says the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. In January 2023, Kim Jong-un declared he would ‘‘exponentially expand’’ the country’s nuclear arsenal and ‘‘mass produce’’ tactical nuclear weapons.


‘‘Their ultimate goal,’’ says ASPI’s Euan Graham, ‘‘is a missile that has the range to reach the continental US and directly threaten the US with nuclear retaliation or a strike.’’ But it’s not just about what’s technically possible. ‘‘There’s an element of prestige around military capability,’’ he says. ‘‘There is a strong theatrical element to what they do. What they do may appear strange from the outside but from the viewpoint of keeping themselves in power, maintaining internal controls and having a strong sense of genuine paranoia about the outside world, it all makes sense.’’


UN sanctions were imposed largely in response to the regime’s nuclear tests, from 2006. Australia and the EU, among others, have imposed trade bans on imports and exports such as arms, rocket fuel, precious metals, commodities, luxury goods and financial services. Yet, Kim Jong-un has somehow kept the regime’s moribund economy ticking over.


A UN panel of experts in 2018 reported North Korean financial brokers were operating freely in five countries, chief among them China and Russia, and engaged in ‘‘illicit ship-toship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea’’. North Korea is also believed to hold vast reserves of untapped minerals such as the rare earth metals copper and graphite essential for electrification and high-tech products such as smartphones.


Selling arms and munitions is another money-spinner, and a way to curry favour with friends. Kim Jong-un spent a week in Russia in September, his longest trip away since taking power, travelling on his armoured train for talks with President Vladimir Putin on closer military and other cooperation. The internet comes in handy, too. Euan Graham notes the regime’s use of financial crime ‘‘through cyber-theft conducted on a massive scale internationally’’.




To understand the divided peninsula, it’s worth taking a step back. ‘‘North Korea lives in a very tough neighbourhood,’’ Graham says. ‘‘In many ways, it’s absorbed many of the kinds of dysfunctions of north-east Asia, a lot of the history that has been swept under the carpet in Japan, China and elsewhere in terms of the imperial colonial history.’’


Korea’s contemporary situation dates from 1945 when, after a brutal 35-year occupation, the Japanese surrendered to Russian troops in the north and US forces in the south. A decision was made to divide administration between the two occupying forces – just while the country got back on its feet – with the Russians controlling everything above the 38th parallel, the US below it.


As Cold War-era relations grew frosty, talks over a single new government foundered. Instead of the two halves uniting, in 1948 they formally split. In the south, the Republic of Korea became a democracy led by the hardline anticommunist president Syngman Rhee; in the north emerged the (nondemocratic) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a Russian puppet state headed by a man hand-picked for the job: Kim Il-sung.

But even as the Soviets and Americans prepared to withdraw their WWII forces, conflict was simmering on the peninsula.


On June 25, 1950, Kim’s forces stormed across the 38th parallel. The United Nations rallied 21 member nations to push back. More than 17,000 Australians fought. Some 3 million troops and civilians died in the conflict. Oddly, the Korean War never officially ended but was paused through an armistice that has left the country divided by a ‘‘DMZ’’ or demilitarised zone: a four-kilometre-wide band of untended land strewn with barbed wire and minefields. In a twist, areas of the zone have become something of a wildlife haven, home to 38 per cent of the peninsula’s endangered species, including black bears and wildcats – even, it’s rumoured, tigers and leopards, says London’s Natural History Museum.




Ruthless oppression and a cult of personality were Kim Il-sung’s main go-tos as he built a new nation, harnessed to a political-economic philosophy known as juche: a peculiarly North Korean take on communism loosely translated as ‘‘self-reliance’’ with quasi-religious elements that became official policy in 1972. Vast murals, towering statues and adoring parades became de rigueur as did absurd historical revisionism. Kim Il-sung was now no longer of common birth but from a long line of glorious leaders; he was no longer just a respected soldier but had almost single-handedly defeated the Japanese. In this, he was eventually aided by his son, Kim Jong-il, who worked in the government’s propaganda department. His skills were well-honed by the time his father died in 1994 (of a heart attack) and passed the baton to him.


Kim Jong-il was as repressive as his father but ‘‘almost comically incompetent in matters of economic management’’, writes Korea specialist Andrei Lankov in The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia. This was a toxic combination, amplified by the collapse of the Soviet Union, on which North Korea depended for aid. Between 1994 and 1998, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans died in a famine later referred to as the Arduous March or the March of Suffering.


Of testimonies from about 100 people to a UN Human Rights Commission on North Korea in 2013, the most harrowing were from this period of famine, says the commission’s chair, Michael Kirby, a former Australian High Court judge. One witness spoke of having to dispose of the bodies of fellow prison-camp detainees in a vat to reduce them to ashes. ‘‘This was used as fertiliser in fields around the detention camp for the purpose of growing vegetables and food, however meagre, for the people in the detention camp,’’ Kirby tells us. The testimony brought him to tears. ‘‘That had never happened to me in my judicial life in Australia. It was a hearing of truly barbarous actions by a government that had got stuck in a time warp.’’

Defector Jihyun Park says the famine was the breaking point for her. Her students, suffering from extreme hunger, were unable to study. She felt powerless to help them. ‘‘That is a very painful memory for me because I didn’t understand everything outside the country and that my country was wrong,’’ she says. She fled to China but was returned to a detention camp, before she escaped again in 2004. ‘‘It’s a prison just without the fence,’’ she says of her country of origin. ‘‘The North Korean government destroyed our human emotions.’’




The number of provocations by North Korea will almost certainly increase during the US election year, says Victor Cha, Asia and Korea chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. These can ‘‘be everything from conventional provocations against the South to missile tests and nuclear tests’’. Kim Jong-un makes four-and-a-half times more provocations in US election years than his father did, Cha says. ‘‘They will do more missile tests, for sure.’’


The US is also planning joint military exercises with South Korea in March, when North Korea will likely flex its military muscle too. A nuclear test this year, which would be North Korea’s seventh since 2006, is not impossible either, although China has condemned its past nuclear tests, which Cha says could serve as a counterweight. ‘‘The last thing that China wants this year is some sort of crisis, given the election in Taiwan and everything else, and their economic problems.’’


‘‘The North Korean regime isn’t really prepared to wage a war in the immediate future’’, says Daily NK editor Robert Lauler. ‘‘The country is militarily strong from the outside looking in but, from the inside, the North Korean military is dilapidated. Soldiers are used less for defence of the nation and more for mobilisation and construction projects.’’


In terms of a broader solution to North Korea’s animosity, the analysts we spoke with weren’t optimistic. ‘‘As long as there is this problem of a North-South division, North Korea can’t really normalise itself as a country,’’ says Euan Graham. ‘‘It’s trapped in this sort of cycle of experimental reform and security shutdowns, and being unable to abandon this belligerent and militarised identity.’’


Even if it was to open up one day, what that would mean for its people is uncertain. ‘‘The South Koreans have developed various scenarios,’’ says Graham. ‘‘There would be a sort of phased approach in which South Korea and North Korea would have some federated status – but the border wouldn’t necessarily disappear.’’ Despite the ‘‘romantic’’ appeal of reunification, doing it would be a ‘‘very bold step’’. ‘‘The last thing the South Koreans want is to inherit the mother of all unification problems that would take much longer than Germany [after the fall of the Berlin Wall] to work through and would be economically ruinous for a generation.’’


Yet the past, he says, holds another lesson too. ‘‘The contradiction for any authoritarian regime is it’s strong until it isn’t, until it’s suddenly proven to be brittle. And then things can unfold very, very quickly.’’

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I can recall the last military punch-up between the Norks and the South Koreans. The Nork Army was found to be seriously wanting in organisation and response, despite organising some artillery.


Few people in the West really understand how much most South Koreans really hate the Norks, and are prepared to launch a full-scale attack on them, and drive them into the ocean - with the RoK troops in particular itching to lay into them.


The RoK has one of the largest and best equipped standing armies in the world, with 500,000 full time soldiers and 3.1M reserves, who will become full timers in short order in the event of any attack.

That's 3 times the size of the Norks full time soldiers and reservists. Russia is not in any position to hand out aid or supply large numbers of troops to the Norks.


Little Fat Wun is all bluff and bluster, and works on the basis that Big Brother China will come to their aid rapidly, if they're attacked.


But the Chinese may step in and simply disarm the Norks and take over, if it looks like the South is getting too close to their border.


The Chinese will be watching the Ukraine show with some concern, and the fact that the same large number of countries that are backing Ukraine, will come to back up South Korea, quite likely concerns them greatly.

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Another thing that we don't seem to have much information about is what will happen when Kim Jong Un dies. He has placed himself at the very top of the leadership, but we haven't been told what the country's succession plan is. One thing is probably for certain: anyone who looks like making moves to oust him and take over is likely not to exist for very long. He is probably surrounded by a cohort of "mullon ijyo" - Yes Men.

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North Korea is willing to back down...


Operation Paul Bunyan[edit]

Operation Paul Bunyan
Part of Post-armistice Korean conflicts
Date August 21, 1976
23px-Flag_of_the_United_States_%28Panton United States
23px-Flag_of_South_Korea_%281949%E2%80%9 South Korea
23px-Flag_of_North_Korea_%281948%E2%80%9 North Korea
Commanders and leaders
23px-Flag_of_the_United_States_%28Panton General Richard G. Stilwell 23px-Flag_of_North_Korea_%281948%E2%80%9 Lieutenant Pak Chol
Units involved
23px-Flag_of_the_United_States_%28Panton United States Army Support Group
United Nations JSF 1st and 2nd Platoon
23px-Flag_of_South_Korea_%281949%E2%80%9 South Korea 1st Special Forces Brigade
813 infantry
27 helicopters
1 tank
150 to 200 infantry

In response to the incident, the UNC determined that instead of trimming the branches that obscured visibility, they would cut down the tree with the aid of overwhelming force. The parameters of the operation were decided in the White House, where US President Gerald Ford had held crisis talks. Ford and his advisors were concerned about making a show of strength to chasten North Korea without causing further escalation.[12] The operation, named after the mythical lumberjack of the same name, was conceived as a show of force by the US and South Korea and was carefully managed to prevent further escalation. It was planned over two days by General Richard G. Stilwell and his staff at the UNC headquarters in Seoul.[6]


Operation Paul Bunyan was carried out on August 21 at 07:00, three days after the killings. A convoy of 23 American and South Korean vehicles ("Task Force Vierra," named after Lieutenant Colonel Victor S. Vierra, commander of the United States Army Support Group) drove into the JSA without any warning to the North Koreans, who had one observation post staffed at that hour. In the vehicles were two eight-man teams of military engineers (from the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division) equipped with chain saws to cut down the tree.[citation needed]

The teams were accompanied by two 30-man security platoons from the Joint Security Force, who were armed with pistols and axe handles. The 1st Platoon secured the northern entrance to the JSA via the Bridge of No Return, while the 2nd Platoon secured the southern edge of the area.[citation needed]

Concurrently, a team from B Company, commanded by Captain Walter Seifried, had activated the detonation systems for the charges on Freedom Bridge and had the 165mm main gun of the M728 combat engineer vehicle aimed mid-span to ensure that the bridge would fall if the order was given for its destruction. Also, B Company, supporting E Company (bridge), were building M4T6 rafts on the Imjin River if the situation required emergency evacuation by that route.[citation needed]

In addition, a 64-man task force of the ROK Army 1st Special Forces Brigade accompanied them, armed with clubs and trained in taekwondo, supposedly without firearms. However, once they parked their trucks near the Bridge of No Return, they started throwing out the sandbags that lined the truck bottoms and handing out M16 rifles and M79 grenade launchers that had been concealed below them.[4] Several of the commandos also had M18 Claymore mines strapped to their chests with the firing mechanism in their hands, and were shouting at the North Koreans to cross the bridge.[13][14]

A US infantry company in 20 utility helicopters and seven Cobra attack helicopters circled behind them. Behind these helicopters, B-52 Stratofortresses came from Guam escorted by US F-4 Phantom IIs from Kunsan Air Base and South Korean F-5 and F-86 fighters were visible flying across the sky at high altitude. F-4Es from Osan AB and Taegu Air Base, South Korea, F-111 bombers of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing out of Mountain Home Air Force Base, were stationed, and F-4C and F-4D Phantoms from the 18th TFW Kadena Air Base and Clark Air Base were also deployed. The aircraft carrier USS Midway task force had also been moved to a station just offshore.[6]

Near the edges of the DMZ, many more heavily-armed US and South Korean infantry, artillery including the Second Battalion, 71st Air Defense Regiment armed with Improved Hawk missiles, and armor were waiting to back up the special operations team. Bases near the DMZ were prepared for demolition in the case of a military response. The defense condition (DEFCON) was elevated on order of General Stilwell, as was later recounted in Colonel De LaTeur's research paper. In addition, 12,000 additional troops were ordered to Korea, including 1,800 Marines from Okinawa.[6] During the operation, nuclear-capable strategic bombers circled over the JSA.[citation needed]

Altogether, Task Force Vierra consisted of 813 men: almost all of the men of the United States Army Support Group of which the Joint Security Force was a part, a South Korean reconnaissance company, a South Korean Special Forces company that had infiltrated the river area by the bridge the night before, and members of a reinforced composite rifle company from the 9th Infantry Regiment. In addition to this force, every UNC force in the rest of South Korea was on battle alert.[citation needed]


The engineers in the convoy (two teams from B Company and C Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, led by First Lieutenant Patrick Ono, who had conducted a reconnaissance of the tree disguised as a Korean corporal two days earlier) left their vehicles once the convoy arrived and immediately started cutting down the tree while standing on the roof of their truck. The 2nd Platoon truck was positioned to block the Bridge of No Return. The remainder of the task force dispersed to their assigned areas around the tree and assumed their roles of guarding the engineers.[citation needed]

North Korea quickly responded with about 150 to 200 troops, who were armed with machine guns and assault rifles.[4] The North Korean troops arrived mostly in buses but did not leave them at first and watched the events unfold. Upon seeing their arrival, Lieutenant Colonel Vierra relayed a radio communication, and the helicopters and Air Force jets became visible over the horizon. Yokota Air Base in Japan was on alert. The flight-line runway was "nose to tail" with a dozen C-130s ready to provide backup. The North Koreans quickly got out of their buses and began setting up two-man machine gun positions, where they watched in silence as the tree was felled in 42 minutes (three minutes less than Stilwell's estimate),[4] which avoided a violent confrontation. Two road barriers, installed by the North Koreans, were removed,[6] and the South Korean troops vandalized two North Korean guard posts. The tree stump, around 6 m (20 ft) tall, was deliberately left standing.[citation needed]

Five minutes into the operation, the UNC notified its North Korean counterparts at the JSA that a UN work party had entered the JSA "in order to peacefully finish the work left unfinished" on August 18.[4] The attempt at intimidation was apparently successful, and according to an intelligence analyst monitoring the North Korea tactical radio net, the accumulation of force "blew their fucking minds."[4]: 81 

Edited by spenaroo
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45 minutes ago, spenaroo said:

North Korea is willing to back down...


They did back down, but that was quite a while ago and several things have changed - NK now has a different top man, and NK is now armed with nuclear weapons.

And I hazard a guess NK is not so easily bluffed now.

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Quite a few years ago I knew a bloke who did a couple of tours in Korea where he was awarded the Military Medal. In one interview he mentioned that the North Korean soldiers were terrible in regard to things like shooting of the wounded, not swapping prisoners, not allowing bodies to be returned etc.. He went on to say that the Chinese were generally a very honorable enemy to fight in his opinion.

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A lot of the prison guards on the Burma railway during WWII were Koreans. They were Japanese colonial soldiers from Korea or Formosa. Harshly treated by the Japanese, they behaved with particular brutality toward the prisoners in their control.

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I can recall reading about one instance where, when the surrender news and Allied troops reached the POW camps, and the Japanese turned in their weapons - in one of the Burma Railway POW camps, several of the freed Australian POW's turned on one particularly vicious Japanese Korean guard after he was disarmed, and beat him to death before Allied soldiers could step in. You won't find the event in official records.


Some of them lived only a little longer, just to go through the Allied military courts, and then be executed for War Crimes.




However, it appears the Koreans claimed they were forced into the positions as Japanese guards, they were not officially Japanese soldiers, and they were only obeying strict Japanese military orders.

The Koreans under the Japanese really were in an invidious position.



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