Korean Spies Mobilized by Japanese Military Police in the Early Period of the Resident-General of Korea: An Analysis of Secret Activity Funds of the Imperial Japanese Army Stationed in Korea

Cited 0 time in webofscience Cited 0 time in scopus
Lee, Sung-Hee
Issue Date
Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 199-234
Japanese Military Policespiessecret activity fundsJapanese Resident-General of Korealist of names
The purpose of this article is to unravel the relationship among Japanese military police, spies, and secret activity funds, and to analyze, based on the records of resources allocated to the Imperial Japanese Army stationed in Korea, how Imperial Japan’s military police mobilized Korean spies, particularly in the early period of the rule of the Resident-General of Korea.
The military police of the Imperial Japanese Army, which assumed the functions of an intelligence agency, mobilized local spies for the “preservation of civic order” and counter-intelligence activities against anti-Japanese movements. The compensation for these spies was provided from secret funds, a portion of “special activities fund” allocated to the military police. Although there were notable differences in the nature of their assignments, depending on time and place, both the secret funds and the local spies were critical to the military police’s pursuit of their missions.
The law dictated that the spending of secret funds be meticulously managed. Unit leaders controlled expenditures and collected all related documents, which were delivered to the chief commander of the military police, who reported directly to the minister of the Army. The same rule also applied to military police stationed on the Korean Peninsula, and each officer reported the details of his/her spending of secret funds, such as the purpose, amount, date and venue, and the official rank and name of informants, after attaching a “receipt” that showed detailed background information on the informant, alongside his/her fingerprint. The contents of activities and personal information on the hired Korean spies, whose compensation was paid from the secret funds, were recorded in exacting detail.
An analysis of existing documents on the secret funds used by the military police revealed that, between 1906 and 1907, 116 Korean spies were mobilized by the imperial authority. Although the historical documents did not uncover the motivations and backgrounds of the informants, it was possible to assess how the spies collaborated with the military police. The types of spying activities can be categorized as: (1) spying on the movements of Koreans (both public officials and the general public); (2) spying on the movements of foreigners in Korea; (3) spying on the movements of Japanese in Korea; (4) criminal investigations (of anti-Japanese movements); and (5) surveillance of “righteous armies.” Such activities highlight the fact that Korean spies were actively involved in the surveillance of anti-Japanese movements as well as the suppression of righteous armies across the Korean Peninsula.
The compensation paid to each informant varied depending on his/her ability, as well as the level of difficulty the assignment connoted, and it is unclear whether some sort of standard existed regarding the size of compensation. Even so, it seems unlikely that spies were able to make a living only through espionage activities. And perhaps for that reason, it was rare that the same informant was employed on more than one occasion. It must be noted that only few sustained their roles as spies for the imperial authority over a long-term period.
Files in This Item:
Appears in Collections:
Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소)Seoul Journal of Japanese StudiesSeoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.5 no.1(2019)
  • mendeley

Items in S-Space are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.