Japanese Periodicals in Colonial Korea

By Nicole Cohen


I.  Introduction
II. Government Serials
III. Newspapers
IV. Others
V. Finding Aids


As of May 1910, the number of Japanese immigrants living in Korea had reached 37,771 families, a total of 158,867 persons. By the end of 1925, this number had increased over ten-fold to 424,740, and by the 1940s there were well over 600,000 Japanese living in Korea [note 1].  Japanese communities were concentrated in the port cities of Seoul (Keijô), Inchon (Jinsen), and Pusan (Fusan), and these were also the major cities where periodicals were published. There were some 16 daily newspapers published in Japanese in Seoul and throughout the country for the Japanese settlers. They consisted of 6 weeklies and 4 monthlies, as well as 3 papers published twice a day and 4 published every other day [note 2].

There were also a large number of journals and magazines catering to Japanese audiences. Such periodicals can be roughly grouped into three categories. The first group consists of Japanese government publications, or publications issued by the Chôsen Sôtokufu, providing an official view of economic, political and social conditions of, at first the protectorate 1905-1910, and then the colony 1910-1945. An example is the Keijô nippô.

A second type of periodical was aimed more towards popular consumption, such as daily newspapers; an example of this variety might be Chôsen jironThe third group addressed specialized interests pertaining to the colony such as mining, hydrology, meteorology and forestry. Farming periodicals on agriculture and agricultural experimentation also belong to this group. A fourth possible category might be journals such as the Tokkô Geppô, which published a monthly version in Seoul. Representatives of the third and forth categories are included under the title heading "Others" below.

There is also a long history of an English language press operating in Korea. Because many of the English-language periodicals explicitly dealt with what was often referred to as the "Japan problem," they are relevant to this discussion. Many of these were missionary periodicals such as The Korea Review,published monthly by Homer Bezaleel at the Methodist Publishing House (1901-1906), and others such as The Morning Calm (1890-?) and The Korea Methodist(1904-05). The very first English-language newspaper printed in Seoul was The Independent(1896-1899). Advertised as the only English-language newspaper in Korea, it professed to offer "fairly accurate" information on all Korean topics. With correspondents stationed throughout Korea, it hoped to report on issues inside as well as outside of Seoul. The advertising section reveals the foreigners involved in the Korea trade. The Taehan Maeil Sinbo (English title, The Korea Daily News) was first published in 1904 in Korean and English by Earnest T. Bethell, a British correspondent for the Daily News of London. The publication, which was supported by both British and Korean capital, was strongly antagonistic to the Japanese. At one point Bethel was even imprisoned by the Japanese. An English language newspaper called The Seoul Press was issued by the Japanese Resident General's Office in reaction against The Korea Daily News. Beginning in 1906 under Motosada Tomoto, the former publisher of The Japan Times, The Seoul Press was therefore an instrument of propaganda to counteract the damage that had already been done to Japan's image in the English language press

The history of the Korean-language press under colonial rule is a far more complicated one than justice can be done to here [note 3].   In the early years of Japan's protectorate over Korea, the Japanese sponsored the publication of several newspapers in the Korean language to counter the strong anti-Japanese message of the chief Korean publication Hwangson Sinmun (1898-1910). These newspapers included the Taehan Ilbo (1904), Tongyang Ilbo (1904) and the Chunyang Sinbo. Throughout colonial rule, the Japanese imposed a series of stringent newspaper laws concerning Korean publications, often requiring them to be submitted to the censors prior to publication. In addition, two major newspaper laws were issued prior to annexation in 1907 and 1909 respectively. Newspapers and journals were routinely confiscated, suspended and forced out of publication. The names and owners of Korean publications continuously changed reflecting shifts in their political leanings and in their economic situations. Suffice it to say that the most widely distributed Korean language newspapers after 1920 were Chôson Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, and Sidae Ilbo. All were published in the Korean language and made extensive use of both Chinese characters and hangul. The use of the latter was an important development as although the alphabet had originally been introduced by King Sejong in 1446, it was not until the late 19th century that it was freely utilized in the vernacular.

The following is a select guide to select Japanese-language periodicals published in Korea during and immediately prior to the colonial period 1910-1945. An emphasis is given to those periodicals catering to Japanese communities living either permanently or temporarily in Korea during this period. While the Starr East Asian Library holds copies of some of these periodicals--often in incomplete form--most of them must be requested through interlibrary loan. More detailed information follows serials that were available for examination; less information reflects incomplete records of data on such publications. When possible, dates of publication, frequency of distribution, and at least one location where the item is held are provided. Judging from discrepancies in the records of the National Diet Library, Tokyo University Library, NACSIS Webcat, OCLC, Clio and the Library of Congress, the dates indicated below should be used as ballpark figures.


Bunken hôkoku. Keijô: Chôsen Sôtokufu Toshokan, 1935-1945.
Published monthly.
Library of Congress

Library periodical including monthly lists of books added to the library's collection, all books published in Korea and Principal articles relating to Korea and Manchuria in pamphlets and magazines. Each issue contains editorials, "lectures," articles.Each article provides up-to-date information on the library and news of bibliographies in its possession. Each issue runs about 61 pages. Content titles in English on back cover.

Saikin Chôsen jijô yôran. Keijô: Chôsen sôtokufu, 1911-1921. 14 Vols.
PRENTIS - 291.9 K843 1911-21

Aims to cover contemporary life and conditions in Korea. Each issue about 280 pages with extensive table of contents. Illustrated with high quality photographs of port areas, infrastructure, imressive buildings and scenic views. Japanese people in photographs typically engaged in some form of white-collar work, whereas Korean people are usually laboring in the fields or in the factory. Provides an official, top-down understanding of key issues such as population, transportation, education, crime and agricultural production.

Chôsen ihô. Seoul: Koryo Sorim, 1915-1920.
Published monthly. Contents same as above.
Library of Congress, Indiana University.

Chôsen yoran. Keijô: Chôsen sôtokufu, 1923-33.11 Vols.
PRENTIS 291.9 K843 1923-33

A continuation of above. Contents same as above (i.e. articles on commerce, agriculture, politics) with many charts and statistics.

Chôsen jijô. Keijô: Chôsen sôtokufu, 1934-44.
PRENTIS:  291.9 K843 1934-44

Continuation of above. Published annually. Contents same as above.

Chôsa geppô. Keijô: Chôsen sôtokufu, 1930-1944(?).
Harvard Yenching, Stratford Public Library, Library of Congress.

Published monthly. Economic and social conditions. Each issue about 120 pages, mainly statistics. Some illustrations. At the end of each issue is a useful day-by-day catalogue of significant events taking place that month.

Chôsen nenkan. Keijô-fu: Keijô nippôsha, 1938-1945.
University of Southern California

Continued by Chôsen yon'gam. Chôsen jinmeiroku, unnumbered supplement, issued. Published annually.


Chôsen nippô. Taejon. 193u-194u.
Published daily.
University of Washington Library.

Fusan nippô. Fusan: Fusan nippôsha, 19uu 194u.
Published daily.
University of Washington Library

Keijô ihô. Keijô, 1uuu-1945
Published Monthly.
Harvard Yenching.

Keijô nippô. Keijô: Keijô nippôsha, 19uu-1945(?).
Published daily.
Microfilms held at Library of Congress and University of Washington Library include morning and evening editions.

Two to three pages in each issue. Some include special section: Chûsen keinichi. All the features of a typical newspaper--main news on the front page, primarily Korea-based news in the second, photographs, cartoons, radio programming,short stories, tanka and the like. Coverage during wartime dominated by jingoistic headlines and page after page of helicopters, soldiers and stories of domestic contributions to the war effort.

Chôsen jijô shinbun. Osaka: Chôsen jijô shinbun-sha.
Published monthly.
University of Tokyo.

Chôsen. Soul : Koryo Sorim,?
Published monthly.
Indiana University, University of California Irving.

Chôsen oyobi manshû. Keijô: Chôsen Oyobi Manshûsha, 1uuu-uuuu.
Published monthly. A continuation of Chôsen,also monthly.
Harvard Yenching Library

Osaka Asahi shinbun. Chôsen ban. Osaka: Asahi shinbun-sha.
Published daily. Also called the Chôsen asahi.

Chôsen shinbun. Jinsen: Chôsen shinbunsha, 1908-?.
Published daily.
Kyoto University.

Keijô nichi nichi shinbun. Keijô nichi nichi shinbunsha.
Published daily.


Tokkô geppô. Seoul: Koryo Sorim, 1930-1944. 36 Vols.
Published monthly.
Library of Congress, University of California Irvine

Police periodical

Chôsen jiron ( = La Revue Korea). Keijô: Chôsen jironsha, 1926-?
Starr: DS901 .C56

Published monthly with a few exceptions. Cover titles Chôsen jiron and La Revue Korea.Each issue runs about 130 pages and contains a variety of articles as well as an advertisement section and a section for poetry and short stories. Fully illustrated with photographs, drawings and cartoons. News of goings on inside and outside of the capital city.

Hôsei keisatsu shinbun (The Law Journal). Keijô. Hôsei shinbunsha, 19uu 1934.
Published twice a month.
University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library

Concerns law and police Matters.

Chôsen nôkai hô. Keijô: Chôsen nôkai. 1927-44.
Published monthly.
Library of Congress.

Each issue averages 110 pages. Illustrated front cover of farmer with a bushel of hay. One of several periodicals concerning agricultural laborers and farm management, catering to a very particular population of Japanese living in Korea during these years. For instance articles discuss land reclamation and methods of improving crop yields and provide detailed information on a crop by crop basis. Advertisements showcase farm machinery, seedlings and other products. Articles address farm production regional interests. The last 20 pages or so of each issue is dedicated to detailed statistics on production and price. Sample article titles include, "The Nature of Farming," and "On the Importance of the tenancy problem." Occasional photographs and illustrations.

Chôsen kôron. Keijô: Chôsen kôronsha, 1942-19uu.
Published monthly.
Library of Congress

Each issue runs about 150 pages. Format is similar to Chûo Kôron. Addresses a wide range of issues (farming, industry, education, commerce) in a broad East Asian perspective. There are regular section along with feature topics in each issue. Some constants are a section on "Things seen and heard" around Korea, creative writing and poetry and news and information about prominent people. There are some photographs and advertisements. Sample articles addressed the East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere and Korea and the censorship of the press during the war years.

Chôsen shigaku. Keijô, Chôsen Shigaku Dôkôkai, 1926-?
Published monthly.
Harvard Yenching and University of Washington.

Sôdôin. Keijô: Kokumin Seishin Sôdôin Chôsen Renmei, 1939-1945(?)
Published monthly
Starr: DS 916.55.S63

An average of 90 pages in each issue. Strong nationalistic tone. Fully illustrated, although quality of reproduction poor. Most stories concern the war effort and propaganda about winning the war.


Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan shozô kokunai chikuji kankobutsu mokuroku: Showa 62 nenmatsu genzai. Tokyo: Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan, 1988.
Starr:  REF Z 6958.J3 K661

National Diet Library catalog of Japanese serials. Only contains holdings by the National Diet Library and so not always useful for obtaining publication dates of serials, etc.

Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan shozô Chôsen kankei shiryô mokuroku. Tokyo: Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan, 1966.
Starr:  219.0039 K82

Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko shozô tosho shiryorui mokuroku: Showa 53-nen 3 gatsu genzai. Tokyo Daigaku Hogakubu fuzoku kindai Nihon Hosei Shoryo Senta, 1983.
Starr REF 3309. T645 1983

Checklist of Monographs & Periodicals on the Japanese Colonial Empire in the East Asian Collection, Hoover Institute of War.Comp. By Michiko Kiyohara. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1981.
Starr:  REF 308. C7 H65 1981

A limited but helpful catalogue of the Hoover Institutes' books, memoirs, periodicals and other data relating to Japan's colonies. The institute began collecting materials on East Asia immediately following WWII. Although this important resource is not annotated, it is neatly organized and accessible. Titles are provided in romajiand Japanese. There is a subject index with headings including Korea, Taiwan, Kwantung Leased Territory, Micronesia, Sakhalin and others. Each heading is further broken down into categories such as bibliographies, serials and newspapers concerning each subject heading. There is also a comprehensive author index.

Song, Minako. Japanese Sources on Korea in Hawaii. Honolulu: Center for Korea Studies, University of Hawaii, 1980.
Starr: Z3316. S58

From the collection of the Japanese novelist Toshiyuki Kajiyama, who was born and educated in Seoul. Kajiyama was very interested in the question of overseas Japanese migration and collected over 1,000 titles related to Korea. Some of them were formerly classified materials from the Government General. It is thought that he planned to write a history of Japanese migration, but died prematurely at the age of 45. Entries and indexes arranged alphabetically and thematically. A useful resource.


1.  Kim, Bong Gi. Brief History of the Korean Press. (The Korean Information Service: Seoul, 1965) 74;Annual Report on Administration of Chôsen 1924-26. (Keijô: Government General of Chôsen, 1927), p. 5.

2.  Kim, p. 74.

3.  For more, see Kim's Brief History of the Korean Press and Michael Robinson's Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Korea 1920-1925.