Konan - Korea

Konan – Korea

The camp originally occupied a total area of 5,184 square metres, enclosed by a wooden board fence. The site had previously been a spinning mill and the main building, a four-storey construction with a tiled roof, was used for the prisoner’s accommodation. Only the top three floors of the building were used for this purpose, the separate levels being divided by wooden partitions to form sleeping quarters for groups of up to eight men.

The men were to supply a workforce for the main plant there. Most of the vehicles in Korea were fueled by carbide. It was the function of the POW’s to feed the carbine furnaces at the plant. There were four furnaces situated on an upper floor. Each furnace as about 40’ diameter and of a circular shape. The task comprised of feeding the furnaces with a limestone product and coal. During an eight hour stint to there were three man teams to each furnace. Task involved feeding the furnace at high speed otherwise surface contents of the furnace became white hot and conditions of work became even more akin to Dante’s Inferno. Each man completed twenty minutes work followed by a forty minute break during which period two other teams did their stint.  As per Richard Swarbrick


On 13th September 1943 Jack Taylor, Ted Roots and Bill Gray were transferred to their next camp at Konan, located on the northeast coast of Korea approx. 200 miles from Keijo. POWs were also brought into Konan from Jinsen in September 1943. Altogether there were about 330 men from Jinsen and Keijo at Konan of which 51 were Australians, including the 3 machine gunners. These 3 men were to now remain at Konan until the end of the war pending their release by the Russian Army on 21st September 1945.

This camp was constructed on reclaimed land adjacent to a swamp. The men w4ere accommodated 40 to a room in which they slept, lived and ate. These huts were about 50 feet long by 25 feet wide and arranged in such a way that they formed the letter H. Work at Konan consisted of either working in warehouses, shifting limestone or stoking furnaces at the carbide factory. It was here that a 3-man team would stoke one of the four electric furnaces operated at a temperature of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In each 8-hour shift, each POW would stoke the furnace 8 times bringing his total time at the heat face to 2 hours and 20 minutes. The shifts on the limestone kilns were also on 3 X 8 hour shifts.

Whereas a man on the Burma-Thailand Railway had to endure tropical heat and monsoonal rains, these men in Korea and for that matter Japan had to endure extremes of cold. In an effort to keep worm, men huddled around stoves in theirs huts or barracks where temperatures were frequently just a few degrees above freezing point. As many as 6 blankets were issued to help men stay warm during winter. On 1st June 1945 Ted Roots developed pneumonia and did not return to Konan camp until end of July 1945.

Roots Stephen E

Ted Roots


Location of Konan - Korea (exact)