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“Will I be able to go out alive?” The terrible record of the Sado Mine

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‘Can I go out alive today?’

This is the testimony of a Korean miner who was forcibly mobilized in the Sado mine.

Japan is promoting the inclusion of Sado Mine, another site of forced labor following ‘Battleship Island’, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are records of forced mobilization as well as testimonies about how poor and miserable mining labor was, but Japan still ignores these horrific records.

Correspondent Koh Hyun-seung from Tokyo delivers.

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About 1,200 Koreans were forcibly mobilized in the Sado mine.

Korean names are listed in the records of residents of the Korean dormitory and tobacco payment lists, and there is also a record of 1,140 Koreans who returned home after the war to deposit their wages in arrears.

The reason for the forced mobilization is also explicit.

Sado Mine was notorious for silicosis, a lung disease, and it is recorded that Koreans were brought in because ‘the amount of mining was not sufficient because there were many Japanese workers suffering from silicosis’.

In fact, Koreans were mainly engaged in mining, transportation, and work in the mines for erecting pillars, while the Japanese mostly worked on the ground.

[히로세 데이조/후쿠오카대 명예교수]

“There was a policy that dangerous labor should be done by Koreans, not Japanese. It is clearly written (in the records of Sado Mining Plant) that most of the mine labor is Korean.”

Many Koreans escaped the mines due to harsh labor, so it is recorded that 148 people, or 15% of the total, fled between 1940 and 43 alone.

Im Tae-ho, who worked at the Sado mine at the time,

Every day standing on the borderline between life and death was terrifying. Will I be able to go out alive today?

During his lifetime, he left a vivid oral record.

He suffered from pneumonia for the rest of his life even after escaping the mine, and he died in 1997 without even receiving an apology from Japan.

[임경숙/故 임태호 씨 유족]

“There was something like a marble in the lungs. So I think he died unfairly after enduring for a long time in a situation where he couldn’t even breathe well.”

Ignoring all these horrific records, Japan plans to apply to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site early next year only for mining facilities used for gold and silver before the 19th century.

This is Hyunseung Ko from MBC News from Tokyo.

Video coverage: Lee Jang-sik (Tokyo) / Video editing: Jo Min-woo

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