The Korean Soldier Who Fought For the Japanes, Russians AND the Germans in WWII

Yang Kyoungjong was a Korean soldier during the Second World War who found himself fighting under at least three different banners by the time the conflict was over. He fought for the Japanese, the Germans, and also the Russians over the course of the entire war. This ended in 1944, when the young Korean soldier found himself captured by United States paratroopers. That is when his story was discovered.

Yang enlisted into the Japanese army as young as eighteen years of age, though not by choice. He fought for the Japanese for all of a year before the Soviet Union captured and imprisoned him. When the Soviet Union found themselves in the midst of a slight struggle in 1942, they required the Korean soldier to fight for them. He and a vast array of other prisoners thus found themselves fighting for the other side, but this again would not last long. He had another year-long stint in the military before once again being captured, this time by the Germans.

By 1944, Yang was fighting for the German side. Again, those he fought alongside were predominantly other prisoners. He managed to survive until his eventual imprisonment by Allied forces. By that time, the war was close enough to over that the Korean soldier was not forced to fight any further. Still, he fought for three armies in a war that did not spare many men who only fought for one. Even worse, he was never fighting for his own beliefs, but always for those thrust upon him.

Prisoners were not well-treated, but they were also subjected to numerous horrors when forced to fight for the enemy. Many Axis troopers killed all who stood in their way, including women and children. The front was often prone to freezing temperatures and men like the young Korean soldier they had fighting for them often had to endure harsh treatment such as continuing to wear boots that were damp with snow. Not only that, but there was no way on the battlefield to discern the prisoners from the men of the nation, meaning that prisoners could easily be shot by the same men fighting to liberate them, the Mail Online reports.

Men like Korean soldier Yang Kyoungjong were stuck in the middle of a war that many of them would just as soon not have fought at all, much less for the sake of the men who were imprisoning them. While only one man, the story of a Korean soldier who fought under three different banners, passed around between enemies, embodies the ruthless and inhumane nature to which many men are prone on both sides of a war.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE