Organized Panel Session
This paper examines the life of Ji Ki-Chul, a prominent anti-Communist prisoner who rejected South Korea and chose neutral nations. Born in Korea and raised in Manchuria, Ji served in the Japanese Kwangtung Army during WWII. After V-J Day, he joined the Korean Volunteer Army in Manchuria and fought alongside the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War. During the Korean War, Ji, who had risen to battalion commander in the Korean People’s Army, was captured by the UN forces in October 1950. In UN prison camps, Ji quickly emerged as a prominent anti-Communist leader. After the armistice, however, he rejected both North and South Korea and instead chose to go to a neutral nation yet to be determined. After living in India for two years, most POWs were accepted by Brazil and Argentina, but Ji was denied entry. Having rejected his homeland and been rejected by other countries, Ji had to settle in India. Later he traveled frequently to South Korea as a businessman until his death in 1997.
Using Ji’s private papers donated by his wife, interviews with his surviving fellow prisoners, and documents from Indian, UN, US, and South Korean archives, this paper recounts Ji’s participation in some of the most brutal wars in modern East Asia and analyzes the impact of imperialism, militarism, and the Cold War on prisoners’ lives.