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The Korean Who Fought for Indonesian Independence March 24, 2017

Posted by Sharehouse Jakarta in Uncategorized.
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Have you heard the story of Yang Chil Sung (양 칠성), the Korean anti-colonialist who didn’t stop fighting when World War II was over? His nom de guerre was Komarudin.

Born in 1919 in Wanju County,  North Jeolla Province, he was conscripted by the JIA while young. Korea and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) were both under Japanese occupation. And life was brutal.

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By age 23, Yang found himself in West Java, guarding Allied prisoners of war. But he was almost as badly off as the Australian and Dutch men he was guarding.

When the war ended in 1945, he joined local Indonesian freedom fighters in the mountains near Garut, West Java. They began preparing for the Dutch attempt to retake their former colonies.

After participating in several significant guerrilla operations, Yang was captured and executed by the Dutch in 1949. If the reports are true, he died at peace with himself and the decisions he had made, requesting red and white clothing for the execution, and a Muslim burial.

I believe he was married to an Indonesian woman. And he must have spoken Javanese and Indonesian, in addition to Japanese (and Korean). In fact, most people thought he was Japanese, as his identify as a citizen of Japan-occupied Korea would have been totally subsumed under his identity as a Japanese soldier.

Around 1400 Koreans were taken from Busan to Bandung in 1942 to work as guards. Few returned. In 1975, Yang’s remains were relocated to Indonesia’s most prominent war veteran’s cemetery (Taman Makam Pahlawan Kalibata) in Kalibata, South Jakarta.

South Korea marks independence day on 15 August while for Indonesia it’s 17 August. That’s history, not coincidence.