Gov’t: POW rebellion was due to cannibalism

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Gov’t: POW rebellion was due to cannibalism

Some 100 Koreans forcibly mobilized by Japan to build military facilities on the Marshall Islands were indiscriminately killed in a rebellion that appears to have started after they were forced to eat human flesh, a Korean government report said Tuesday.

A government committee, formed to investigate Japan’s forced mobilization of Koreans during the 1910-1945 colonial era, said that the results of its three-year probe indicate that the laborers were served the flesh of their colleagues - disguised as “whale meat” - after the Japanese ran out of food.

Koreans who survived the 1945 incident have given testimony of cannibalism, but the report is the first from the government supporting them.

According to the report, the incident began in February 1945 when the Koreans, taken to Mili Atoll to build an airstrip and other military facilities for Japanese troops, killed seven Japanese officials supervising them.

Records show there were about 800 to 1,000 forced-Korean laborers on the islands, which served as the eastern defensive perimeter for the Japanese in the Central Pacific during World War II. After taking control of the Marshall Islands from Germany in 1914, the Japanese steadily increased their military presence there.

As the number of residents on the islands suddenly increased and U.S. air attacks blocked supply lines, the Japanese troops and their Korean workers quickly ran out of food.

Believing their rebellion to be a success, the Koreans planned to surrender to the U.S. troops the following day but were killed when armed Japanese forces from a neighboring island mounted a punitive attack. The report said about 100 Koreans were killed while some survived the incident.

The report concludes that forced cannibalism by Japanese troops appears to have caused the rebellion.

Citing some of the accounts given by witnesses, the report said the Koreans became suspicious when their colleagues began disappearing and when they found the dead body of a Korean man with part of his flesh cut out.

“The ‘Japanese cannibalism incident’ appears to be true when we look at what are no minor circumstantial [pieces of] evidence and testimonies, although we have difficulty proving it,” Jo Geon, a member of the committee that conducted the research, said.

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