Chi Ki-ch’ŏl’s story reveals a man not driven by ideology, but buffeted by it. He began adulthood as a Korean exile in Manchuria, where the Japanese occupation army conscripted him. After Japan’s defeat in August 1945, he joined a Korean contingent of the Chinese Communist Army and fought in the Chinese Civil War. His unit later repatriated to North Korea, where it joined the invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950. When U.S.-led forces of the United Nations shattered that invasion in September, he quickly arranged to surrender to U.S. troops. While in custody, Chi worked with Republic of Korea (rok) intelligence to organize prisoner of war (pow) resistance to their being returned to North Korea after the impending armistice. He enjoyed privileges as an anti-Communist in the pow camps, and hoped it would continue. Although an active anti-Communist, Chi judged that he would not be able to live in South Korea as an ex-pow. After refusing repatriation to North Korea, he also rejected staying in South Korea. But Chi would survive elsewhere. He relocated to India, where he thrived as a businessman. He chose the space of neutrality to succeed as an anti-Communist, where life nevertheless reflected the contentious energy of the Cold War. Chi’s decision demonstrated how ideology, despite its importance to him, was not sufficient to translate his rejection of Communist North Korea into a commitment to South Korea.
At the end of the Korean War, 76 Korean and 12 Chinese prisoners of war (pows) refused to return to either side of their divided countries. Instead, they sought asylum in neutral nations that were yet to be determined. Situating this theme issue’s three articles in the larger Korean War historiography, this introduction provides a chronology of major events that culminated in the 88 pows’ departure from Korea and voyage to India on 9 February 1954. Emphasizing that these 88 men were not fundamentally different from the other 150,000 Korean and 21,000 Chinese pows, this paper underscores the fact that these 88 pows, having survived battles and captivity, risked their lives to escaped from their compound leaders and sought neutral nations’ protection. The stories of the 88 prisoners “choosing” neutral nations were in fact tales of survival and escape.
Under the terms of the Korean War armistice, prisoners of war (pow s) could reject repatriation. The vast majority of non-repatriates went to either of the Koreas, China, or Taiwan. But a small group consisting of 76 Korean and twelve Chinese pow s exercised their option to go to neutral nations instead. This article examines how South Korean discourse about these outlier pow s shifted over the decades. An early assumption was that they had made a principled, ideological decision to reject both blocs of a global Cold War. But their choice of neutral countries was a more personal than ideological one. Their anti-communism appeared muted, since they also eschewed the other side. This interpretation contained little direct knowledge of the pow s themselves; it owed more to how the South Korean public saw the war that devastated their peninsula. There also was the influence of “The Square” in the Korean intellectual society and the mass media in their understanding of these Korean prisoners. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, South Koreans became more confident about the rivalry with North Korea. This led to a reengagement with the memory of the pow s who had spurned both Koreas, making rejection of Communist North Korea more convincing and their refusal to remain in South Korea was less problematic.
This article reconstructs the life history of Korean War prisoner Im Kwan-taek and analyzes his strategy for survival. Im, a North Korean who forces of the United Nations Command (unc) captured, refused repatriation to North Korea and decided to go to a neutral country. After two years in India, he finally settled in Brazil. This study examines his prisoner of war (pow) interrogation reports and the results of two oral history interviews to understand Im’s experiences and survival strategies. Born in Ch’ungch’ŏng Province, Im grew up in southern Korea. However, in 1946, he moved to northern Korea with the support of his deceased father’s comrades from the anti-Japanese movement in China. With the start of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Im became an officer in the Korean People’s Army (kpa). As a pow, he concealed his identity as much as possible to ensure his survival, and these efforts continued in neutral countries. After the Republic of Korea awarded Im’s father the South Korean Patriotic Medal in 2001, his “secret survivalism” strategy relaxed and he began organizing communication and networks between surviving former pows.
This paper studies the activities of American enterprises, technology, and related business organizations and engineering groups in China from the outbreak of World War i to the Pacific War and explains how these activities helped establish connections between China and the world. It borrows the concept of “networks” from Professor Sherman Cochran’s extraordinary book titled Encountering Chinese Networks, but broadens the scope of the term to include activity at the level of management and competition, as well as placing Sino-American relations in transnational perspective. Using a multi-archival approach to examine China’s major attempts at internationalization, this article focuses on the cases of the American Asiatic Association, the American Chamber of Commerce of China, and the Association of Chinese and American Engineers to show how these networks played important roles in the development of Chinese-American relations. It also discusses the issues of standardization, “scientific management,” and professionalism of entrepreneurs and engineers in influencing network making.
The possibility of oil reserves under the seabed of the East China Sea created competition between Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to claim ownership of these natural resources. The dispute marked the start of international cooperation in maritime East Asia and introduced the United States into this power game due to its exploration techniques and financial power. While Taibei, Tokyo, and Seoul put sovereignty-related disputes aside in an attempt to explore resources jointly, the change in international politics in East Asia and Washington’s perception of the western Pacific rim led to the failure of cooperation. This article argues that this international power game over natural resources management epitomized the dynamic politics between the United States and its East Asian allies. The roles of sovereignty, local interests, and U.S. international security created a dynamic scenario revealing how oil reserves were never the issue, but instead the embodiment of the actual concerns of these players behind their diplomatic language. Situating the 1970s oil exploration in the context of the Cold War, this article provides a historical lens to understand the contours of the shifting geopolitical structure in maritime East Asia.
Secretary of Navy Frank Knox declared a week after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor that fifth columnist activities were partly responsible for the success of Imperial Japanese forces. Who and what he meant when he used the phrase “fifth columnist activities” is subject to debate. Most assume he was referring to all Japanese Americans or Japanese nationals residing in Hawai’i. But this essay, based on Knox’s personal correspondence, supplemented with the Pearl Harbor Attack hearings’ published reports, Judge Advocate General records, and the 14th Naval District Intelligence Officer reports, finds that Knox was referring to the Japanese Consul-General Office and a small handful of Japanese American assistants who voluntarily carried out the task of keeping the U.S. Fleet and military installations under surveillance, thereby contributing to the success of the Imperial Japanese attack.