The Curious Case of Yang Kyoungjong

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Yang Kyoungjong is the name of a Korean soldier who amazingly managed to fight in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and the German Wehrmacht during WW2.

He is the only soldier in the known history of warfare to fight on three sides of a major conflict.

How did he manage that?

At the tender age of 18, Yang was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army to fight against the Soviet Union. How was a Korean conscripted by the Japanese, you may ask?

Don’t forget that during WW2 Korea was ruled by the Empire of Japan. In his first taste of combat, Yang was captured by the Soviet Red Army at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol and eventually sent to a Russian labor camp.

Due to a shortage of fighting men, the Soviets would occasionally press their soldiers into military service on behalf of the Soviet Union. Now acting as a Russian conscript, Yang’s unit was deployed on the eastern front to fight the German Wehrmacht in 1942.

During the Third Battle of Kharkov in 1943, Yang once again managed to get captured (this time by Germany) and was forced to fight as a member of the Wehrmacht.

Fearing invasion from the Allied powers in Normandy, Germany sent their newly created Soviet POW battalion (called the “Eastern Battalion”) to defend Occupied France near Utah Beach.

Believe it or not… Yang was once again captured. This time by American paratroopers after the D-Day landings in northern France in June 1944.

Initially believed to be Japanese, American forces had no way to communicate with Yang as he spoke no English. Along with 3 other Asians captured after D-Day, he was sent to a prison camp in Britain and later was transferred to a camp in the United States.

At the end of the war, Yang was released and eventually settled in Illinois where he lived until his death in 1992.

Hard to believe?

This incredible story, while thought to be true by many WW2 historians, has had some holes poked in it in recent years.

Back in 2005, a documentary aired in Korea covering Asian soldiers who served in the Germany military during The Second World War.

While the documentary did confirm that Asian soldiers were captured while conscripted into the Wehrmacht, there was no evidence to confirm the existence or story of Yang Kyoungjong.

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