This letter was written by Korean
Byung Mook Chang who was forcefully conscripted to serve with the Japanese
Army, and was sent to New Guinea. It is address to the government of
Papua New Guinea and its people:
Long ago I was forced to join the malicious and cruel-some
army of Japan. I was dragged far away from my homeland [of Korea] to Papua
New Guinea but happened
to survived miraculously. I state here about those miserable moments of
battle and would particularly like to accuse the current Japanese government
for its inhumane lack of responsibility.
A half century has already passed since the brutal so called 'Pacific
War' and the Japanese surrender. Papua New Guinea had to suffer pains of
the war and therefore I would firstly like to wish the people of Papua
New Guinea its prosperity.
D-Day for the raid on Papua New Guinea was January 1942. I was a soldier
in the 20th Division of Korea-Japan United Army. I was forcefully recruited
in Seoul and was sent to eastern New Guinea, and for three years was without
anything to eat, without any necessary equipment, suffering from malaria
and with so many war wounds to travel through the deep jungle. I managed
to survive miraculously through this hell. I was the only one who returned
home with my full body among my whole squadron. There in eastern New Guinea,
five thousand Korean men (including me) were forcefully recruited died
in battle without any justice and without any value. They were mercilessly
slaughtered and were made to rot.
No sooner than we landed on the shore, then the Japanese lost total control
of the air. Ration and supply routes were also cut. The situation grew
worse and the Japanese army lost whenever they fought. The desperate Japanese
Army with three divisions was finally ordered to launch an attack on the
Australian 6th Division and American 32nd Division in Hollanida and Aitape area. Japanese struggled but the battled ended miserably [at Drinimor
with only 3% of the total Japanese force surviving. This was the final
military action of Japan in Eastern New Guinea area. How foolish and insane
a war it was.
Remnants of the Japanese army dispersed and fled in hunger and hid themselves
in the jungle area called Boiken and tried to stay alive as long as they
could. remnants out of hunger those Japanese remnants finally attacked
the local villagers stealing yams, potatoes, Yimo [?], Sak-Sak [Sago],
papaya, coconuts or whatever they could devour. They robbed all the villages
until they turned to total ruins. However in that desperate situation the
United Army (Allies) continued to hunt down the remaining Japanese. Remnants
lost all hope, some committed suicide and some others grew insane out of
hunger, killed fellow soldiers and miserably earned their living off human
flesh. These incidents became frequent when the Japanese Army became desperate
and went hunting for human flesh. They called white soldiers a 'white pig',
black soldiers and villagers 'black pig'. They turned into cannibal beasts.
I witnessed those moment and even went far enough to
almost eating flesh myself. I saw smoke rising from a hut in the jungle
near the village called Yangora. Without any thought I entered the hut
and when I did, three Japanese soldiers were cooking and devouring dark
meat out of a local made clay [pot]. They told me it was boar meat, and
I should try it. I sat by them and when I was just about to bite it, I
saw the bleeding headless flesh, probably a local village woman thrown
into the woods. I jumped and ran away immediately. They were finally slaying
the innocent local people and were filling their dirty stomachs with human
flesh. How can a man possible eat another? I was shocked and horrified
by the inhuman cruelty of the Japanese.
The moment I saw the headless woman, I forgot all my
hunger and felt nausea and wanted to vomit instead. I ran away madly but
upon hearing a gunshot, I looked back and they were furiously eating flesh
of their like. After sometime, rumor said that they all killed themselves.
Because of these inhuman misdeeds, after the war, it is said that the number
of Japanese war crimes from Eastern New Guinea area outnumbered the total
number of the whole Japanese war criminals.
Another ridiculous incident also occurred. One day in the morning, Japanese
tried to buy a young village leader named Louis, giving him an official
badge and sword of a Japanese Army Lieutenant, and made two other local
men armed with rifles to guard him. These men were then sent to the nearby
villages and were made to help Japanese steal food and other goods. But
many people knew that the Japanese were on the edge of a cliff [about to
loose the war], so they choose to run away to the United [Allied] side.
As the life of the whole Japanese Army was at the brink of extinction,
they lost all their human nature and turned into a group of slayers and
thieves. They ruined all the villages by burning, killing, stealing and
even eating native innocent people. My fellow Koreans survivors and I witnessed
clearly every moment of it.
After the war, Japanese War Criminals and the highest
military personnel in the East New Guinea area, including their commander
[General] Adachi committed suicide during the trial by the United Military
Law Office (Allies). This was all to conceal his inhuman cannibal activities
and also to save his subordinate officers. His confession written just
before his death proves this fact. In his written confession [he states] "I
am solely responsible for the cannibal act that happened during the service/" I
am sending you a copy of the confession as proof.
Of course I know that your Papua New Guinea government have a sole right
to claim for full compensation for the savages Japanese Army and its brutal
sins and I am also aware that I'm in no position to interfere with such
matters but I strongly believe that the Japanese government must offer
satisfactory compensation for all their past wrong doings.
For I have become disabled and my body is full of wounds because of vicious
Japan. I have for the past half century tried to meet Japanese policy makers
for the right compensation and an apology, but all I ever get from those
immoral Japanese are a bunch of stupid answers. I hope that they are at
least treating you politely but what I am really worried about is the fact
that your nation has been under the protection of the UN and that has eventually
made you forget about your right to claim for compensation for savages
crimes done by the Japanese Army.
[Now that a half century has passed] The current Japanese government is
trying to cover up and conceal their misdeeds by offering some of your
nation's people with cheap skills and used cars. They are also offering
travelers from the victim area cheap watches, radios and food. They are
trying to blind your eyes and at the same time pursuing to find the bones
of their dead and are planning to build a monument all without felling
any shame. But I urge you to never be blindfolded by their cunning ideas,
but at once claim for the immediate prosecution of the related figures
of their misdeeds, and for full compensation, and show truthful attitude
of apology and reeducate their people about their dirty past history. This
is the one and only right way that we all can coexist in real peace.
Finally, the thing that we [Korean soldiers] will never ever forget is
the amenities and endless help that the local people of your nation offered
us when we were running away from the evil hands of the Japanese. We deeply
thank them on our knees and in our tears. We gravely apologize and beg
mercy for all the wrong doings on your people that we were forced and made
to do. In addition we gratefully wish an endless blessing on your new country,
Papua New Guinea, and finally hope all your people happiness in the new
Byung Mook Chang
Born June 2, 1922
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Memorial was built in Kovoy
Dedicated in 2002 to Koreans
serving in the Japanese Army.