Korea’s modern history as seen through NARA photos
The grim faces of Korean athletes accepting medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics offered a glimpse into the oppressed lives of the colonized.
Sohn Kee-chung was forced to run the marathon under a Japanese name, Son Kitei.
But when they mounted the blocks to accept their medals from German Chancellor Adolf Hitler - with the Japanese national anthem playing in the background - their faces remained stern and they bowed their heads as if in shame.
Reporting on the two runners’ victories, newspapers back home altered the images of their uniforms to remove the flags, immediately prompting retribution by the Japanese authorities.
The nature of Japan’s rule was repression and discrimination against Koreans. Imperial Japan did not grant Koreans political rights, freedom of assembly or speech; they were forced to adopt Japanese names and only speak Japanese in schools. Their goal was to dissolve the national consciousness.
Koreans fought colonial rule with different methods. Some said the nation must boost its economy and adapt to Western culture to achieve independence, while others joined an armed struggle for independence.
BY BAE YOUNG-DAE, KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]
*Ko Ji-hoon, a researcher at the National Institute of Korean History, contributed to this article.
More in Social Affairs
Divers, scientists see climate change altering Jeju's aquatic ecosystem
Infections back in triple digits with 110 cases
Flu vaccines left out of the fridge, program halted
Mount Halla's fir forest is withering