Korean J Med Hist.  2013 Dec;22(3):645-680.

The Study of School Hygiene and Physical Education in Chosun during the Early Japanese Colonial Period Carried Out through Educational Magazines: Focusing on the Time Period before the Manchurian Incident in 1910-1931

  • 1College of Education, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea. ktyoung66@hanmail.net


This research mainly dealt with sanitation and hygiene related editorials quoted from educational magazines published in Chosun until the Manchurian Incident during the Japanese colonial period. The study revealed that modern Japan became aware of the importance of public sanitation from the late nineteenth century and established modern programs so that schools can comprehensively teach students about sanitation and hygiene so as to enter modern imperial society. Japan particularly introduced and carried out modern physical(gymnastics) education as a means of "complete sanitation and hygiene" to improve students' health. As a result of having two times of war, the Japanese Empire reaffirmed the significance of modern sanitation and hygiene. After colonization of Chosun, Japan organized official educational groups and enlightened the public about sanitation and hygiene through editorials on the educational magazines which the groups had published. In order for schools to promote complete sanitation and hygiene based on modern medicine, Japan actively engaged in suggesting the necessity of physical(gymnastics) education which was critical to human's growth and development. After Japanese Government-General of Korea legislated on school hygiene in 1913, Japanese governments school started hiring school doctors and nurses. They stressed the need of providing sanitation and hygiene education in school to prepare for war in 1910's in advance; highlighted that physical (gymnastics) education should be enforced to help students grow and improve their physical strength from a modern medical point of view. In April, 1919, the Japanese Empire implemented the same instruction to the schools where Chosun people attended. But it was found that the law was not applied well to those schools in effect. The Japanese Empire was seen to proclaim the second educational decree in 1922; proposed international hygienic achievement of the time and comments; enlightened the public by connecting "Fletcherism" of the USA with rice crisis, which was a big social issue back then. In an attempt to complement modern sanitation and hygiene, Japan strongly recommended students appropriate physical gymnastics as the most desirable and complete sanitation method, saying it would help them correct their imbalanced condition-which was found from physical examination - and grow up. They even claimed such an absurd logic that ones whose body did not develop normally tend to become criminals, reflecting the then atmosphere of the society, and considered military gymnastics as one of the most important sanitation and hygiene factors that positively influence growth and development. All the fact that Japan tried hard to apply the practice to students cannot be ignored.


Chosun during the early Japanese colonial period; editorials on the educational magazines; school hygiene; school doctors and nurses; physical(gymnastics) education; governments school; school doctors and nurses

MeSH Terms

Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
Complement System Proteins
Growth and Development
History, Modern 1601-
Military Personnel
Periodicals as Topic*
Physical Education and Training*
Physical Examination
Complement System Proteins
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