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Tsutomu Nishioka

【#458(Special)】Terrible Film “Battleship Island” (Part 2 of 2)

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2017.08.07 (Mon)

August 2, 2017

     I have reiterated that South Korean President Moon Jae In and his supporters have the “anti-South Korean masochistic view of history” meaning that pro-Japan Koreans who had cooperated with Japan before and during World War II have transformed themselves into anti-communism, pro-America Koreans and become a mainstream force instead of being punished. Moon and his supporters have vowed to replace the entire mainstream force in what they call a “candle revolution.” The film “The Battleship Island” is based on the same view of history. Underlying the film is self-righteousness that affirms a violent revolution including a “people’s court” and “armed uprising”.

Priority given to charging pro-Japan Koreans
     On July 28, the film’s director Ryoo Seung Wan released his rebuttal against criticism from Japan. “Based on facts I have found, I attempted to depict miserable realities surrounding Japan’s forcible requisition of Koreans, Japanese Imperialism’s barbarism and unethical acts of pro-Japan Koreans who lived with Japanese Imperialism,” Ryoo said, admitting that one of the film’s themes is to charge pro-Japan Koreans.
     As a typical pro-Japan Korean, the film features Song Jong Gu (named Matsumoto in Japanese), a labor manager abusing miners. Song was betrayed by Japanese twice. In the first time, only Japanese entered air-raid shelters and blocked Song from entering during an air raid. In the second time, Song and his Korean subordinates joined Japanese in a gun battle with armed Koreans attempting to escape. Then, Japanese executive Yamada ordered his men to kill all Koreans including the labor management staff and Song’s subordinates were shot dead.
     Korean comfort woman O Mar Nyon complained that she had been abused by Korean panders and comfort station chiefs, voicing her anger at pro-Japan Koreans. Lee Jung Hyun, an actress acting as O, in an interview with a South Korean newspaper said: “I like the film in that O didn’t say Japanese were unconditionally bad. In real history, Koreans deceived fellow Koreans.” She thus criticized pro-Japan Koreans.
     Former independence activist Yun Hak Tyol, respected by Korean miners as a teacher, turned out to be pro-Japan in a changeover of the film. While negotiating with a Japanese mining company, Yun embezzled wages and death compensation money for Korean miners. In a bid to cover up the embezzlement, Yun joined the company’s conspiracy to bury all Koreans, including women and children, to death in tunnels.
     Yun was executed in public by Pak Mu Yong, an agent dispatched by the Korean Liberation Army, an independence activist organization. Pak slit Yun’s throat, declaring to the miners who assembled: “I punish him in the name of Korea for holding secret communication with nation’s enemy, for selling people’s blood to his self-interests, masquerading as leader to deceive people and committing anti-Korea acts.” The execution resembled a people’s court praising violence.

Influence of pro-Pyongyang leftists
     Pak and his comrades planned to arm themselves and escape the island. Miners had candles while pledging to participate in the plan, reminding us of pro-Pyongyang leftist revolutionaries’ candle rallies to support President Moon.
     In the film, miners robbed a coal carrier ship and set to sail in the direction of Nagasaki, when an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The film ended with a scene in which miners on the ship silently watched the bombing. One murmured, “Koreans are there, too.” None talked about Japanese casualties. I felt possibly from my bias that Koreans might have been pleased to see a successful revenge to Japanese. As I wonder what would happen when pro-Pyongyang leftists establish a unified country with the North and possess its own nuclear weapons, a shiver runs down my spine.

Tsutomu Nishioka is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.