Thousands of Korean Forced Laborers Died in Micronesia

A government commission has confirmed that about 5,800 Korean laborers were drafted by the Japanese Army during World War II and forced to work in in the Micronesian islands from 1939, and most of them died there.

Japan occupied the islands, which it was trying to turn into a forward operating base for the Pacific War, from 1914 until the war came to an end in August 1945.

According to the Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization under Japanese Imperialism on Thursday, only 704 Koreans, a mere 1 percent of the entire population on the islands, lived there in 1938. But the number soared to about 5,800, 42 percent of the entire rise in the island population, by 1941.

Most of the Korean laborers were forced to build an airstrip or work in the sugarcane fields. After the Pacific War broke out in 1941, they were used as human shields, and about 3,500 were killed in air raids.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 26, 2010 13:55 KST