Korean propaganda during the Second World War and the Korean War had a different effect upon the Korean society

Propaganda was widely spread over radio, papers, posters, and by word of mouth during the Second World War and the Korean War.

Korea was a participant in both wars, World War II, being enslaved by Japan, and also the Korean War, a civil war. Propaganda in these two wars did differ, because they were dictated. But how did these two wars differ in affecting Korean citizens?The research question will be answered through research conducted through interviews.

During the Second World War, propaganda to Korean civilians was severely dictated by the Japanese. A separation in classes occurred between the higher elites, and the middle and lower class peasants. The higher elites spread Japanese propaganda to fellow Koreans in return of respect and large sums of money. On the other hand, there was an intense unification with the lower and middle class peasants who came together in hatred, anger, and frustration aiming at the Japanese.As for the Korean War, similarly, there was an apparent chaotic segregation between the Northern Communists and the Southern Democrats of Korea. Propaganda was partly to blame for the intensity of bitterness it caused between the two Koreas.”Party lines”, and “half truths”, are also words that describe propaganda.

According to the Encarta World English Dictionary and Thesaurus, propaganda is defined as: “1. information or publicity put out by an organization or government to spread and promote a policy, idea, doctrine, or cause. 2. deceptive or distorted information that is systematically spread.” Propaganda is used as a tool to dictate ignorant people, divert attention, or to bleed doctrine into society, especially during a war.

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During a civil war, how does propaganda affect civilians, does this affect differ from propaganda of a global war? This question will be answered through the use of primary sources, namely through interview conductions. The first person is Myong-man Yoon, who was a company commander in the Korean War, and a civilian at the age of 23 during World War II. For second references, Booman Kim, a civilian during the Korean War, and a student that learned about Korea’s role in the First World War, in Korea.FORMAL BACKGROUND INFORMATIONBefore discussing the Korean propaganda and its affects that were spread during the Second World War, and the Korean War, to better understand the topic of propaganda and the occurrence of the tone in propaganda, one must have some background knowledge on the outcomes of the wars, and a general understanding of the circumstances, and strategies of the countries involved.Korea is a country that is not very well known to the general public. Only one specific historical event highlights it; the Korean War. Korea was also deeply involved in the Second World War, although not many know of this because Japan had occupied Korea at this time and used many of its raw materials and general soldiers to achieve their goal in battles.

In 1905, Japan had illegally occupied and started settling Japanese families in the small peninsula of Korea, located Southwest of the island of Japan. Both Russia and Japan struggled to gain control of this particular land, which caused the early 20th century outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). In 1931 Japan went on to invade Northeastern China, which they called Manchuria. These two regions offered Japan an easy solution to the problems they were facing at the particular time: a big increase in population, and an inadequate supply of raw resources such as minerals, agricultural land, and forestry.During these illegal invasions and occupations, Japan readily chose to utilize the strength of their army. Soon after, (1932) Kim Il Sung, the leader of the guerrilla unit based in Korea, started to dispatch numerous attacks against the Japanese to fulfill the growing feelings of bitterness that himself, and the Korean population, of which the Chinese would also relate to, had felt towards the Japanese. However, the Japanese would retaliate by arriving into Korea in large numbers of the Japanese  army during the Second World War.

This is the buildup to Korea’s participation in the Second World War alongside Japan.After the Second World War had ended in 1945, it was agreed upon during the Yalta Conference, that Korea would be divided along the 38th parallel, and symbiotically shared between the United States of America and the Soviet. By 1948, North Korea had been set up as the People’s Democratic Republic by the Soviets. Simultaneously, South Korea was established as the Republic of South Korea, aided by the United States. Rhee Syngman became the first president of South Korea in 1948, and was fully supported by the United States because he was a right-wing politician. In 1950, one year after the United States had withdrew itself from South Korea, convinced that South Korea was not going to be attacked, unfortunately, Kim Il-Sung, (the North Korean communist dictator), was convinced that South Korea should, and would be under his doctrine.

. U.N.’s security council sends troops to defend South Korea, and fifteen nations also send their troops to Korea. This is how the story of the civil war within the small country of Korea explodes into a big battle drawing in more than a dozen countries.PROPAGANDA*The Second World WarIn the early stages of the Second World War, Japan’s main argument in propaganda was, that Asia must be united to compete against the Western forces of which were more industrialized, economically stronger, and overall “ahead” of Asia.

It was believed by the Japanese that Japan was already the strongest Asian nation, and was capable of being the “ringleader” to the so-called ‘United Asia.’ This propaganda was spread over all of Asia, thus affecting Korean propaganda. Stories with this propaganda was heard, spread through radio, and may have been printed on paper.American propaganda also affected the Asian population. Although Japan’s population was not very influenced by this, the Korean and Chinese populations were. American propaganda was spread in movies, posters, and cartoons. The main objective was to encourage Americans to support the war effort.

Most items of propaganda took racist overtones, and Japan, along with the Asian population as a whole were looked upon differently, as they had different values than the Americans. Overall, Japan was a big target for racism. In one  specific example of an American propaganda item regarding Japan is a “Japanese Bat Carrying Bomb” magazine cover. This is a great example that depicts the American views on Japan during the World War Two. The bat is shown to represent Japan as a disease-carryingrodent, with pointy ears, fangs and slanted eyes. Also note, this magazine cover is dated, December 7th, 1941; the date of which a surprise-attack on Pearl Harbor took place by the Japanese.

Therefore, American propaganda had a large effect on the Korean civilians, Americans were perceived as “heros”; perhaps this is how the largely popular “Americanism” and “Americanization” in Korea commenced, where Koreans, especially in media thrive to look like, act like, and desire to be (like) Americans.Near the end of the war, propaganda started to take different forms. The Asian population, especially Korea and China, started to distrust Japanese broadcasting, and propaganda. Building upon the bitterness towards Japan, Japanese broadcasting was looked upon as a hoax, disdainful, distrustful, and manipulative. Japan broadcasted that victory would soon be in their hands, and that America was going down. But in reality, Japan was becoming weaker and weaker and thinning out on the battlefronts.

America realizes that Japanese propaganda was un-informative and that the Americans should help out the people who had nowhere else to turn to be updated on the war. Through this, the Voice of America radio broadcasting is formed. The majority of the Asian population, especially Korea and China, dependence on this radio broadcasting became vital. The main lines of American propaganda towards the Koreans were, “We see victory, and independence shall be granted upon you; resist conscription by the Japanese, and don’t participate in the war.

“Also, there was propaganda within the pocketed Korean societies. A handful of high class Koreans, such as teachers, professors, bankers, and writers, were secretly paid in high amounts of money, and well respected among the Japanese to spread Japanese propaganda. The propaganda that was spread through them accounted for the general idea of the “Asian block.” This refers to the idea of Asian Nationalism, Asia coming together as one, and creating a block for the West, of course with Japan being the ringleader.

The high class people frequently paid visits to the country sides and spoke to the rural, uneducated farmers.In the last few months of war, most of the Korean and Chinese populations neglected Japanese broadcasting and propaganda. Japan became desperate to scatter more Korean soldiers and manipulate them into fighting for the Japanese. At this point, Japan was becoming intensely weak, and at the brink of defeat, but they refused to just give up. Propaganda was being spread thru eminent people. There were “conferences” where Korean civilians were gathered, and a speech was told. Simply, the speech was a way to coax civilians to be “proper” and do their share in the war. They were sweet talked, the Japanese sang to them how they were Korean, and not Japanese, after ruling over them, and abolishing Korean culture and language for thirty-six years.

The Korean civilians were told that in order to be proper, they must contribute. They would also mention how America had many different races in their country, andthat even in China at that point, had many mixed Asians. But in this country, there are only about five different cultures, and thus they were “pure.

” And in being pure, that they shouldn’t argue over who’s superior, but, instead keep the races and cultures, and appreciate one another. The speeches ended with the speaker giving much thanks and appreciation towards the civilians for being “pure” people and good people, who really had the heart to be proper. Simultaneously, the Voice of America broadcasting was spreading thru Korea and China and gaining a good reputation.*The Korean WarDuring the Korean War, there were two different voices of propaganda in Korea; Northern propaganda, which was communist, and Southern propaganda, which took a more democratic approach.

After the Second World War, the Soviet was responsible for holding North Korea in their hands and molding it into the People’s Democratic Republic. They became a communist society under the Soviets. South Korea, on the other hand, became a democratic nation under American rule. There was friction that caused the civil war in Korea. There are many reasons that lead to the extreme: war, but the major reasons concerned Korea becoming a democratic or communist state as a whole.After the erection of South Korea, the rehabilitation of the South Korean army and navy was not ceased.

American soldiers set up training camps for South Koreans to elongate the Japan-influenced army and navy bases in South Korea. The army and navy bases in North Korea and South Korea were both increasing in size and strength. In 1950, June 25th, Communists invaded South Korea. Many discomforts surfaced from the separation of Korea, such as rice distribution, and both the North and South experienced lootings by one another since the border between them was quite soft.

Immediately, America and the United Nations came to the rescue to cease expansion of communism in the South.While the numbers of supporters to fight against the Soviets and North Korea was progressing, the propaganda spread by the communists was being injected into many of the minds in North Korea. The main argument was: we (Korea) will prosper if we’re communists, because if we help one another, our economy will grow and we will become respected and move up in the world. The Communists also misused Marx’s ideologies in their propaganda. Marx pointed out that Democracy would eventually reach its peak and naturally become socialism.

Communists asked why one would waste time waiting for democracy to reach its peak, and that it would be easier on many if they just switched over to Communism.The North Koreans strongly believed that Communism would help them advance in the world. On the other hand, Americans were spreading propaganda in the South. The main argument of Southern propaganda was: Communism only widens the gap between the middle/lower class and the higher class.

The words and actions of communism don’t follow through. Independence,freedom, individualism, will build a stronger society. With the sixteen countries on our side to fight communism, we can defeat communism from spreading. These were basically the two sides of argument between the two Koreas that were causing friction.EFFECTS*The Second World WarMany civilians depended on radio broadcasts, movies, posters, cartoons, and newspaper articles, of which were articulated with propaganda.

Indubitbly, the whole of the lives of civilians were changed; through the political, economical, and nevertheless the social aspects.The Japanese ideology of the “United Asia” in the Second World War, impacted Korean civilians a lot. Overall, the general population of Korea was united in hatred and bitterness towards the Japanese. There was also a slight separation in classes due to the spread of propaganda. Many of the higher class people, with professions such as teaching, banking, and writing, were “mis-lead” or “brainwashed” into spreading this propaganda to the uneducated farmers, and also within their communities.

They were bribed with money, and treated as an elite with respect from the Japanese.On the other hand, the middle class and peasants were treated with no respect, and they were to give into the Japanese government without anything in return. There was indubitably a bias in opinion and ideology on the war in the higher class, who were benefiting from the war, and being for it. Therefore, generally, the people of the lower and middle class were united in animosity towards the Japanese through disagreeing with the “United Asia” propaganda, and thinking that it was a hoax to take over Korea, whereas most of the upper elite classes were in support of the war, and actively spreading the propaganda themselves.Near the end of the war, there were many social gatherings of the middle and lower classes set up by the Japanese to try to enforce Japanese propaganda and coax Koreans to help aid the Japanese to victory.

The lower/middle class took a nationalistic approach to the propaganda and ideologies they spread within themselves. The main aspiration that their hopes and ideologies revolved around was, independence; independence of their country, and the independence of the individual. This led to the belief that having an independent military to defeat the Japanese would aid them in gaining in independent country. As the war progressed, and near the end, the Japanese were weaker militarily, but were not willing to give up to defeat. The majority of Koreans, (which were lower/middle class) and their views on the war, and their thoughts of its progress were becoming more and more evident to the Japanese.

This led to desperate accumulations of Koreans, including young children, adolescents, and men of which were tooold to have been conscripted to serve as Japanese military men in the war, by the Japanese. This occurred on a daily basis, large gatherings, forced gatherings of people, to listen to the pleas, and guilt enforcement of the Japanese. Propaganda again, was trying to permeate within the Koreans that were not primarily involved in the war. The core of their propaganda, was a coax the Koreans to initiate involvement, aid, and support for the Japanese in war. They were told that the Japanese were on their road to victory in the war, and many Japanese and conscripted Korean soldiers had lost their lives. And due to this, they were in need of a couple hundred more soldiers to gain “victory.

” The Koreans were also told that their Korean race, culture, and language would be rewarded to them after the victory, as an independent race.The Japanese also tried to enforce guilt; as Japanese citizens, it is only right and appropriate to prosper and contribute to the war. The notion of purity was also spread. The example of America, with it’s many different races, and also China, with over fifty different Asian residencies, were not “clean.

” But as of Japan, to the maximum of five races subsided, therefore the Koreans and Japanese should not bicker of superiority, and advances, but work together with synergy. This last minute propaganda by the Japanese affected Koreans on many different levels. A very minimal amount of people were na�ve to the propaganda, thus many refused to accept the plea, and trust the Japanese. To some extent, this allowed Koreans to become more confident and assured of their beliefs, also, it illustrated the impulsive, distraught character of the Japanese.

This was almost like evidence for the American propaganda broadcasts. This provided a reason for a greater manifestation of the intensity between the middle class and peasants, and ones that prospered.The Korean WarAs for the propaganda of the Korean War, a conflicting certainty of beliefs led to complete chaos and destruction on both the North and South Korean sides. Communist propaganda raged from the North Korean side, and at the same time, indoctrination of democracy bellowed from the South Korean side. Both, the North and South were absolutely certain that their creeds, and principles should be the ones to direct the whole of Korea. Anger and rage, bitterness, and enmity were ignited by propaganda from the opposing sides. The transitions and exchanges of propaganda to each other, while being aware that the country (as a whole) needed leadership, led to a passionate civil war.Civilians from the North would cause  oblivious rampages in attempt to pocket grains of rice from the crops of the south.

Violent disruptions and persecution by the North were also illustrated. Pure hatred for each other made crossing over borders, sometimes fatal and perilous. Also, a government imposed absence of trade and over defensive border crossing resulted in divided families, in some cases, acrimony against one’s own government of imposing and implications of separation causing a divided,hostile environment. Propaganda was also actively being indoctrinated within the Northern and Southern communities. In the North especially, there were organized social get-togethers and orders for indoctrination, much like Nazism and Fascism.

Therefore, Korean (Northern and Southern) propaganda was a big contribution to the initiation of the Korean War. The depths of the indoctrinations led to raids, disaster-causing confrontations, mass looting, chaos, and ultimately, separation as a country as a whole, and contact between the North and South.COMPARE AND CONTRASTIt is quite evident that there are similar affects as well as a contrast in affects propaganda has brought upon the Korean people during World War Two, and the Korean War. One major aspect that should not be over-looked, is the obvious fact that propaganda differs in the two wars, because one is a civil war, whereas the other is a national war. During World War two, it was previously stated that Korea was generally overall united in hate towards the Japanese.

Propaganda exacerbated its standing situation with the people of Korea because it presented them as even more deceiving and conniving. Another small side note is that there was a class differentiation or, gap, between the upper and middle to lower classes. Socially, propaganda also affected Korea because of the division in classes. Therefore, propaganda from the Second World War affected civilians in the way that the middle and lower classes were united in hate towards the Japanese, and the exception of the higher class, creating a category within themselves.

Similarly, a separation within the Korean community is depicted due to the propaganda during the Korean War. But, in this case, separation is between the Communists and the Democrats; ultimately, the people North of the 38th parallel, and South of the 38th parallel. Propaganda on both sides did increase anti-opposition lootings and chaos. In contrast, the risen animosities of the divisions between the people of Korea were seemingly more serious and actions taken against each other were more damaging between the North and South.

In accordance to this, the border between the two Koreas was becoming more secure and finalized, and through this, a more confident segregation occurred. Propaganda did not stop, and as time passes by, the stories become more concentrated, and diluted. By this, there is a historical segregation, and belief that the opposing Korea is “evil” or “wrong.” From time to time, propaganda is relived in books printed after the Korean War. Perhaps, the younger generation is na�ve, and takes those propaganda lines to heart, as education. Therefore, propaganda has irritated both Koreas at the time of the Korean war, and contributed to the finalization of a lawful border between the two Koreas.

And even today, the propaganda of both Koreas affect the civilians on both sides of the border.CONCLUSIONIn conclusion, the main differing affect of Second World War propaganda and the Korean War propaganda was that the Korean War propaganda led to a more serious outcome that resulted in a definite branching of the two Koreas, and the erection of the 38th parallel border.In likelihood, propaganda in both situations exacerbated the intensity of friction within the animosities within the Korean peoples. Again, the propaganda during the Second World War brought the lower and middle peasantry together in bitterness, and alienated the higher class from the others, for they were trying to spread Japanese propaganda to the lower/middle classes for their personal gains. Moreover, propaganda was very social, and thus had largely affected the daily lives of civilians.Note: there must be a general understanding that at least fifty percent of this paper is based upon the interviews that I have conducted. Critical judgement and background reading, as well as bias affecting knowledge were taken into account on my part when synthesizing this paper. However, there are limitations to this work because the information, as knowledge, through personal experiences, may be emotional, thus not very reliable.

Also, Myong-man Yoon was an active part of the South Korean (U.S. led) Korean War, hence, one must take into account that he is more likely to be pro-US and democracy. Nevertheless, the information included in the paper, goes accordingly to the books I’ve read on propaganda, as well as on the events.


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