Interesting Facts About Yang Kyoungjong: The Only Soldier To Fight On Three Sides Of A War

World War II is a fascinating period of history, and it has an innumerable amount of incredible stories. One of these unbelievable tales involves a soldier of Korean descent who fought and bled for three different countries: Japan, the USSR, and Nazi Germany. Even upon his final capture, it was initially believed that he was a Japanese soldier in a German uniform.
Yang Kyoungjong was a Korean soldier, well-known as the only soldier to fight for three sides during the Second World War – the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and the German Wehrmacht.
He was born on March 3, 1920, in Korea Japanese Protectorate, Empire of Japan (present day North Korea). There is hardly any information available on the life of this Korean soldier before his service to three sides during the Second World War including his childhood, family background and education. It is only known that he was living in Japanese controlled Manchuria at the very onset of the war.
At age 18 Yang was conscripted into an Imperial Japanese Army group, the Kwantung Army, during Japanese rule of Korea. The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol saw Yang being captured by the Soviet Red Army.
Thousands of prisoners including Yang were pressed to fight for the Red Army due to Soviet manpower shortages in their combat against Nazi Germany. During the Third Battle of Kharkov, he was captured by Wehrmacht soldiers in eastern Ukraine.
The Germans then included him in the Eastern Battalions during the war and sent him to Occupied France. He was captured there by the United States Army paratroopers following the D-Day landings and was sent to a British prison camp and later to an US camp.
The US Army released him post war, however Yang did not return to Korea and choose to live in Illinois, US where he spent rest of his life.
Below are FIVE interesting facts about Yang Kyoungjong:
1. The Americans were unable to communicate with the four men captured including Yang who were taken to be Japanese soldiers in German uniform. It was later discovered that Yang was a Korean while the other three men were from Turkestan. Yang was transferred to a British prison camp and thereafter moved to a camp in the US.
2. When the Germans were being overrun, Kyoungjong was captured for the final time by Americans. Due to his inability to speak English or German, Kyoungjong was sent to Britain’s POW camps until the war comes to an end. After he was released at the end of the war, Kyoungjong settled in Illinois where he lived until his death in 1992.
3. In December 2005, the Seoul Broadcasting System aired a documentary on the existence of the Asian soldiers who served Nazi Germany and were captured by Allied forces.
The documentary concluded that although there had been Asian soldiers in the German army during World War II, there was no clear evidence for the existence of Yang Kyoungjong.
4. After the invasion of Normady on D-Day, a photo (left) was taken of an unidentified man in Wehrmacht attire being processed as a prisoner of war. The official caption does not give his name, and instead refers to him as “young jap”. The current description on the US National Archives refers to him as a “young Japanese man”.
The identity of the man has been a source of speculation, and in the 1990s a theory emerged that he was a Korean who was captured by the USSR, who was then captured by Nazi Germany and pressed into service. Then later the man was identified as Yang Kyoungjong, however, no direct proof of this has been found.
5. Author Martin Morgan believes the man is not Yang Kyoungjong, but instead an ethnic Georgian from the 795th Georgian Battalion, which was composed of Georgian Osttruppen troops.

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