UCA News


Late Seoul archbishop was Japanese collaborator

Updated: November 11, 2009 10:50 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Share this article :

The late Archbishop Paul Ro Ki-nam of Seoul and six other Catholics are named as Japanese collaborators during the Second World War in a new encyclopedia.


Archbishop Paul Ro Ki-nam named as a Japanese collaborator in the new encyclopedia

Catholic lay leader John Chang Myon, prime minister from 1960-1961 and the father of Bishop John Chang-yik of Chunchon, is on the list along with four Seoul priests and one other lay leader. The Catholics are among 4,389 collaborators named in the three-volume work, the name of which translates as the "Pro-Japanese Collaborators Encyclopedia." Archbishop Ro, the country´s first Korean-born bishop, chaired the Catholic Federation of Seoul Diocese to Fully Support Japan´s War from 1940, and is said to have visited a Korean soldiers´ training camp for Koreans forced to "volunteer" to fight for Japan. Archbishop Ro also instructed Catholics to observe every first Sunday of the month as "Patriotism Sunday" and say a "prayer for Japan´s war" twice a day and following Sunday Mass in 1942, the encyclopedia says. Chang, the coordinator of the Catholic federation, was the councilor of the pro-Japanese National Federation for Japan´s War, according to the encyclopedia. It is not the first time the Seoul-based Institute for Research on Collaborationist Activities has named the late prelate and Chang , but the encyclopedia is the most complete attempt to date at categorizing pro-Japanese collaborators. The institute launched the encyclopedia at a ceremony in Seoul on Nov. 8 attended by some 400 historians and civic group members. "How much they actively, voluntarily and consistently cooperated with Japan at that time was a major consideration for the institute when it finalized its list," Yie Myung-suk, a researcher of the institute, said. The issue of collaboration has been a contentious one since Korea was liberated from Japanese rule, which lasted from 1910-1945. South Korea failed in attempts to punish the pro-Japanese collaborators following liberation but the issue has remained a sore point for many and public calls to prosecute collaborators, known as chinilpa, have gained ground in recent years. Father Bosco Byeon Seung-sik, undersecretary of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of Korea, told UCA News that the encyclopedia´s list is misleading and should have made a clear distinction between active pro-Japanese collaborators and passive ones. "The Church had nothing to benefit from such cooperation. Under Japan´s severe oppression, Archbishop Ro just tried to protect the Church and its faithful," he argued. Archbishop Ro became the first Korean bishop to head Seoul vicariate in 1942. He became an archbishop when the vicariate was elevated to an archdiocese in 1962. He retired in 1967 and died in 1984.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia