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The Japanese Population in Korea and the Korean Population in Manchuria



According to data of the department of land and forests under the governor-general of Korea, in 1942 the number of Japanese living in Korea was 752,832.


The population by occupation was:







Industrial workers




Transport workers


Office workers


Unskilled laborers


Other specialties



There were 800 Japanese landowners in Korea who owned 216,740 ge (a ge is about a hectare) of arable land. The majority of Japanese farmers are in South Korea. There were 37 Japanese who own more than 2,000 ge of land.


According to data of the governor-general of Korea, [the following] lived in the northern provinces of Korea in 1944:


North Hamgyeong


South Hamgyeong


North Pyeongan


South Pyeongan


Hwanghae [sic]



After the arrival of the Red Army in Korea, with the exception of individual cities, precise data about Japanese present in individual provinces was unavailable in connection with the relocation of the Japanese population to and within Korea. There is also no data about the occupational composition of the Japanese population in North Korea.


The following was established on the basis of a survey of the Japanese population of the city of Pyongyang on 20 October 1945:


There are 57,000 Japanese in the province of South Pyeongan, of which 35,000 live in the city of Pyongyang. Since September 16,300 Japanese refugees have come to the city of Pyongyang from Manchuria and the northern regions of Korea, of which 2,400 are men; 6,200 are women; and 7,700 are children.


The total number of Japanese refugees in the two provinces of North and South Pyeongan is 50,000.




The Japanese refugees have been housed in various parts of the city. The living space is insufficient for housing. There are an average of two or three people per square meter of living space. There is very great overcrowding. For example, in one of the buildings in which 2,768 are housed 36 people live in rooms of 11 square meters. Most of them sleep in a sitting position because of a lack of space. Food is distributed in accordance with established norms: children under seven - 200 grams a day, adults - 350 grams.


Half of the norm is distributed in rice and half in macaroni. The distribution of food is being made by local authorities.




A large percentage of sick people, especially children, are being observed among the Japanese in connection with the great overcrowding, scarce food, and insufficient medical aid. There are 16 doctors in the two provinces but no medicines. There are no hospitals for housing the seriously ill. Most of t hose who have become ill live together with those who are healthy. Most of them suffer from stomach ailments.


Nine percent of the refugees in the city of Pyongyang are ill.


Three hundred and eighty-seven of the 1,588 sick children died between 10 August and 10 October. The situation is worsening with the onset of cold weather. The majority have no warm clothing, and they lack coal and firewood. There is also no transport to bring in fuel. The Japanese male and female population who are able to work are used for various kinds of work by the local authorities without payment for [their] labor.


A refugee bureau has been created in the city of Pyongyang. It is headed by Ui-ji [Kuwabara], a former Manchurian official who worked in a railroad construction company. At the present time he has been arrested by the local police.


The influx of Japanese refugees into the city of Pyongyang continues. On 17 October 350 people arrived from the city of Hamheung [Kanko]. On 19 October 320 people arrived from the city of Sekigen [sic]. They all live in the open in view of the lack of housing.




A considerable number of Korean settlers lived in the province of Yanbian [Jiandao] bordering Korea before the occupation of Manchuria. As a consequence the provinces of Mudanjiang, Sonjiang, [Dunan'], Heihe, and others bordering the USSR became settled by Koreans. Koreans also settled in other more developed farming provinces.


A special Manchurian-Korean company to resettle Koreans existed in MChG [Manchukuo] until 1941. The company developed a plan for the annual resettlement of 10,000 Korean families in Manchuria.


In 1941 this activity switched to the "Manchuria Colonization Company", which absorbed the previous company. A Manchurian-Korean conference was held in April 1942. It developed a five-year plan to resettle Koreans in MChG. According to the plan it was proposed to resettle 50,000 families, 10,000 families a year.


The growth of the Korean population in MChG after the occupation is seen in the following:



670,000 people


808,000     "


989,000     "


1,300,000  "


1,450,484  "


1,500,000  "


Viewing the Koreans as one of the tools to carry out their "continental policy" the Japanese settled Koreans in MChG in a special type of military settlements. The main occupation of the Koreans in Manchuria is farming. Some of the Korean settlers were used by the Japanese military clique for espionage and sabotage besides agricultural work. The Korean colonists lived in a more privileged position compared to the Chinese population. They were settled on better land. Besides agriculture they were permitted to engage in hunting, fishing, etc. Koreans classed statistical data about the MChG population and about the Japanese colonization under the heading of "Japanese", making a common column with the Japanese,   "Japanese subjects". The Japanese viewed the Korean colonists as their own support among hostile Chinese peasants.


The Chinese population undoubtedly felt hatred not only toward the Japanese, but also the Korean population in Manchuria. After the Japanese were expelled from Manchurian territory the Chinese population began to openly oppress the Koreans, taking land, furniture, and household goods away from them, and to expel them from Manchuria. The Korean colonists began to leave their places in droves and return to Korea.


Refugee Im Du-su [Rim Tu su] from the province of Tonghua said:


"The Chinese killed two Koreans at our farm. We tried to organize a defense of the farm but nothing came of this. A situation was created such that all the residents of the farm abandoned the land, harvest, and courage, and fled to Korea".


Ri Chan-im [Ri Chan Im], who worked as a waiter in one of the restaurants in the city of Harbin said:


"I had laid up some fuel for winter but the Chinese came and took away the coal. Winter and cold weather are coming. I decided to leave for Korea".


Both refugees declared that one way is left the Koreans in Manchuria, to return to the homeland.


According to data of Narodnaya Pomoshch' [People's Aid], a voluntary society organized in September in the city of Pyongyang of the richest representatives of the Korean population, it has been established that 171,856 Korean colonists arrived in Korea from Manchuria between 13 September and 20 October 1945, of which 57,318 were men, 82,003 were women, and 32,585 were children under nine years of age.


Six percent of the refugees of the total number who have arrived left for South Korea. About 60,000 people are concentrated in the province of South Pyeongan; 18,000 of them remained in the city of Pyongyang. The stream of Korean refugees from Manchuria continues. They gather at railroad stations in large numbers. They are all trying to get to [their] previous place of residence as quickly as possible. With the coming of cold weather the situation of the refugees traveling by rail and waiting for weeks for trains traveling in their direction is worsening.


The Narodnaya Pomoshch' society is taking steps to organize living quarters in the city of Pyongyang to house arriving refugees and find work for them if possible. The society has expanded work to collect money to help the Korean refugees. Fifty thousand yen have already been collected. The leader of the Narodnaya Pomoshch' society is the Korean An Gi-seok.


The society has five representatives each in the cities of Busan (South Korea) and Bongcheon [Pongch'on] and maintains written communications with them.




1. Give orders to military commandant's offices of the province about an accurate accounting of the Japanese population. Make an accounting of the occupational composition.


2. Suggest that local authorities improve the condition of the Japanese refugees. Immediately offer housing space for the normal housing of the latter.


3. Give orders to provincial authorities to halt the movement of refugees and to create normal living conditions for them.


4. Suggest that local government bodies create normal health conditions for the refugees. Organize hospitals and quarantine the sick.


5. Improve the nutrition of the refugees by distributing some vegetables to them.


A Soviet report on the situation of Japanese in Korea and on the status of Koreans in Manchuria, or Northeast China, after liberation.


Document Information


Archives of the General Staff of the USSR, op. 480s, 29, st. 5, p. 2, pa. 21, k. 35. Translated by Gary Goldberg.


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