Korean War Legacy Project

James Shigeo Shimabuku


James Shimabuku joined the Army in 1949 after fighting his parole officer to let him enlist despite having a police record. He was transferred to Japan as a driver for military officials and was then sent to Korea once the war started. He recounts his arrival in Pusan and describes encountering waves of Chinese forces. He shares his experience as an Asian-American fighting against other Asian cultures and recalls the difficulties of sleeping due to shrapnel falling around them at night and moaning from wounded soldiers. His wife, Dorothy Shimabuku, joins the conversation and shares how her husband’s war experiences affected his quality of life and details how those same experiences influenced how interacted with his family.

Video Clips

Waves of Chinese Forces

James Shimabuku describes the situation in Pusan upon his arrival and recounts making his way up to Suwon. He remembers encountering the Chinese and recalls wave after wave of them. He shares that when the Chinese soldiers in the front died, the Chinese soldiers behind them would pick up their weapons and continue pushing forward.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Busan,Suwon,Chinese,Front lines,Weapons

Share this Clip +


Asians Fighting Asians

James Shimabuku describes the names that Hawaiians used for different Asian cultures. He also shares how he felt about being an Asian-American fighting against other Asian cultures such as North Koreans and Chinese. He adds that the differing cultures in Hawaii saw themselves as island people rather than Koreans, etc.

Tags: Chinese,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans

Share this Clip +


Sleep Deprivation and Thoughts on Fear

James Shimabuku recounts the difficulties of trying to sleep with shrapnel falling around the troops. He offers an account of a fellow soldier moving dead bodies and shooting an enemy soldier who was still alive amid the bodies. He shares his philosophy on fear and states that one either lives or dies.

Tags: Fear,Front lines

Share this Clip +


Effects of War

James Shimabuku's wife, Dorothy Shimabuku, shares how experiencing war affected her husband. She describes him as being very commanding while raising their family and details his bouts with nightmares. She details moving with him to Nevada to help him seek medical and mental care at a newly-built veterans hospital.

Tags: Home front

Share this Clip +