L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yi Wu, Prince of Korea

Prince Yi Wu (or Yi U: 15 November 1912, Seoul – 7 August 1945, Hiroshima), a member of the imperial family of Korea, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. Born two years after the Japanese annexation of Korea, he was the second son of Prince Gang, who was himself the fifth son of Emperor Gojong. His mother was Lady Suin, one of Prince Gang's quite numerous concubines.

As a child he was taken to Japan to be educated; this may have been something of a pretext, as the Korean imperial family was subject to the pressures of Japanization. He was intelligent and excelled in the Japanese language and in his military education. But it appears that, like his wastrel father, he also chafed under Japanese dominance. It is said that he refused to take a second seat to his Japanese peers, and when attempts were made by the Japanese to marry him off to a minor Japanese noble, he instead married the Korean Lady Park (or Pak) Chan-ju, a granddaughter of Marquis Park Yŏng-hyo (or Pak Young-ho), with whom he would have two children.

With his wife, Lady Park Chan-ju.
Prince Yi Wu in the Philippines, 1 June 1943.

The prince spent his career in the Japanese Army, serving in battalions in the Philippines and northeast China. There are rumours that while stationed in Manchuria he supported, even aided, resistance movements by Korean exiles. At any rate, he worked his way up through the officer corps; commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1933, after twelve years of service he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was transferred to Hiroshima in 1945, and on 6 August 1945, on his way to his office, he was mortally injured by the atomic bomb blast and died later that day at a medical aid station. He was thirty-two. Posthumously promoted to the rank of Colonel, his body was removed to Korea where he was buried in Heungwon on 15 August 1945, the day the war ended.

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