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‘Independence activists got skin grafting on buttocks due to beating by Japanese’Professor unveils Severance Hospital’s record of surgeries on dozens who were flogged
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2019.03.11 15:10
  • Updated 2019.03.11 15:10
  • comments 0

A professor has unveiled a new medical record that confirmed Japan’s brutal suppression of Korean resistance during the March 1 Independence Movement in 1919.

Hong Chang-hee, a professor at urology department at Yonsei University College of Medicine, announced that some of the independence activists who were flogged by the Japanese military for joining the March 1 demonstrations received skin grafting at Severance Hospital.

The picture shows a patient’s buttocks after pinch graft at Severance Hospital in Seoul, 1919. (Credit: The Independence Hall of Korea)

He revealed the record at a recent conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Movement at Yonsei University College of Medicine.

“In 1919, 76 patients were admitted to Severance Hospital due to skin necrosis from flogging, and they underwent skin grafting,” Hong said. Flogging was a form of corporal punishment, performed on bare buttocks. Japan established “Joseon Flogging Decree” in 1912 to execute flogging to punish Koreans legally.

The Joseon Flogging Decree states, “A flogger makes the prisoner lie down on the stomach on a table, with arms stretched out and both wrists and legs handcuffed. Then, the flogger let the clothes down to expose buttocks and hit.” The decree was scrapped in 1920, after the March 1 Movement.

According to statistics by Governor-General of Korea, Japan imposed flogging on 10,592 Koreans during the March 1 movement in 1919. Hong said patients suffering from gangrene after being beaten by dozens of blows increased rapidly after the independence movement.

Hong cited a book called “The Korean Situation: The Commission on Relation with the Orient of the Federal Council of the Churches in America, 1919,” when he explained about the 76 people who received skin grafting at Severance Hospital after being beaten by the Japanese.

Another book, “The Case of Korea,” published in New York in 1921, also demonstrates it on page 87. The page was based on the accounts of J. W. Hirst, who worked at the obstetrics and gynecology department of Severance Hospital.

The hospital provided “pinch graft” procedure for the patients. At that time, skin grafting was generally performed on patients with burn-affected skin. Most physicians performed the pinch graft, first done by a Swiss surgeon Jacques-Louis Reverdin in 1869.

Kim Young-seok, a professor at the plastic and reconstructive surgery department at Gangnam Severance Hospital, assessed photos of the patients who had skin grafting, which was provided by the Independence Hall of Korea.

“The left hip shows debridement, after the removal of the dead skin. The edges of the affected skin are clean, and the area did not have skin grafting yet. The right hip shows the status of pinch graft, after removing the dead skin,” Kim said. “The ‘island of graft’ is visible in the middle of the damaged skin and the epithelium appears around the transplanted skin and looks white. This part is light pink in a color photograph.”

Hong said Severance Hospital was deeply involved with the March 1 movement and that the hospital had to treat civilians who had gunshot or knife wounds by Japan's brutal suppression during demonstrations.

“This is a sad story of civilian activists not recorded in history,” he said.

lhs@docdocdoc.co.kr

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