Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 18 Jul 2019 12am







    Wednesday, July 17, 2019-12:51:57P.M.






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Korean monuments on Tinian

TINIAN — Less than a mile north of San Jose village is an historic site that draws many visitors, especially Koreans, each year.

The Korean Memorial honors Korean civilians, mostly laborers, who were killed during the battle of Tinian. An estimated 5,000 Koreans died in the Marianas during World War II. Korea was annexed by Japan prior to the war. 

I’d been to the area several times in past years to visit the Tinian Lourdes Shrine just a few yards away. I’d taken hundreds of photos from a distance but never took the time to inspect the memorial up close until a few weeks ago when I had the luxury of time and was visiting the place again with a friend.

There was no one around. The usual stream of tourists arrived during the earlier part of the day so we had the place to ourselves.

It was the first time I had gone near enough to the huge marker to read the inscription and discovered that it told a story:

“Here, like five thousand nameless souls, beloved sons and daughters of white-clad folks. These were of…a homeless race who suffered under the chains of a reckless imperial Japanese army by whom they were deprived of their rights and were taken to these islands like innocent sheep, and then were fallen to this ground leaving behind them an eternal grudge…,”

In July 1944, the inscription stated, “our brothers and sisters, so young like fresh flowers, were stabbed by sabers or were killed by the man-slaughtering armaments on Saipan and Tinian.”

The Korean Monument was erected through the efforts of Rev. Young Shik Rhee, founder of Korea Social Work College, to honor the memory of those who died in the war.

Near the monument stood the remains of a small Japanese crematory, its bricks crumbling and covered with shrubs. It was kind of eerie and the late afternoon breeze was gently blowing. Although we were not in a hurry, we didn’t’ stay around long. My friend Allen wanted to leave and stopped me from exploring the Japanese crematorium.

The Korean Monument is easy to find when you’re on Tinian. It’s past the NMC instructional site and there’s a signboard at the intersection to guide you.

For more Saipan, Tinian and Rota adventures please check out and follow the links.