Fighting for the Enemy

Koreans in Japan's War, 1937-1945

Brandon Palmer

  • Published: July 2013
  • Subject Listing: Korean Studies, World War II, Asian Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 272 pp., 15 illus., index, 6 x 9
  • Territorial rights: World
  • Series: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Contents

Fighting for the Enemy explores the participation of Koreans in the Japanese military and supporting industries before and during World War II, first through voluntary enlistment and eventually through conscription. Contrary to popular belief among Korean nationalists, this involvement was not entirely coerced. Brandon Palmer examines this ambiguous situation in the context of Japan's long-term colonial effort to assimilate Koreans into Japanese sociopolitical life and documents the many ways Koreans - short of openly resisting - avoided full cooperation with Japanese war efforts.

Much media attention has been given to Japan's exploitation of "comfort women" in Korea and elsewhere in East Asia during the colonial period, but, until now, there has been no extended, objective analysis of the exploitation of the thousands of young Korean men who served in Japan's military and auxiliary occupations.

Brandon Palmer is associate professor of history at Carolina Coastal University in Conway, South Carolina.

"Skillfully synthesizes a broad body of material in both Japanese and Korean, including official government documents, personal histories, and previous scholarly studies to produce an excellent study of Japan's wartime mobilization of the Korean population that often challenges conventional scholarly perspectives." - Carter J. Eckert, Harvard University

1. Korea’s Mobilization in context
2. The Korean Volunteer Soldier Systems
3. The Korean Conscription System
4. Mobilization of Colonial Labor


“Palmer’s study is long overdue in addressing Japan’s colonial policy and how the exigencies of war forced Tokyo to revise its initial policies for a people they long considered to be inferior. . . . [This book is] Essential.”
-C. C. Lovett, CHOICE, January 2014