Yang Kyoungjong (1920 – 1992) was a Korean soldier who fought during World War II in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht.
His story was revealed by an article of ‘Weekly Korea’ on Dec. 6th, 2002, which became a big topic in the Korean society at the time.
In 1938, at the age of 18, Yang was in Manchuria when he was conscripted into the Kwantung Army of the Imperial Japanese Army to fight against the Soviet Union. At the time Korea was ruled by Japan. He was captured by the Soviet Red Army and sent to a labour camp. Because of the manpower shortages faced by the Soviets in its fight against Nazi Germany, in 1942 he was pressed into fighting in the Red Army along with thousands of other prisoners, and was sent to the European eastern front.
In 1943, he was captured by Wehrmacht soldiers in Ukraine during the Battle of Kharkov, and was then pressed into fighting for Germany. Yang was sent to Occupied France to fight in a battalion of Soviet prisoners of war known as the “Eastern Battalion”. After the D-Day landings in northern France by the Allied forces, Yang was captured by paratroopers of the United States Army in June 1944. The Americans initially believed him to be Japanese in German uniform, and he was placed in a prisoner-of-war camp in the United Kingdom. At the time, Lieutenant Robert Brewer of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, reported that his regiment captured four Asians in German uniform after the Utah Beach landings, and that initially no one was able to communicate with them. Yang later emigrated to the United States, where he lived until he died in Illinois in 1992. He lived as an ordinary US citizen without telling his unbelievable life story even to his two sons and one daughter.
His surprising story will be told in a new movie which is now being made in the United States. The title of this movie is ‘A POW in Normandy’ and will focus on the real story of a Korean POW(Kyoungjong Yang) and a US soldier who helps him. It is said that the budget for this movie will amount to more than 40 million dollars.