Yang Kyoungjong (March 3, 1920 – April 7, 1992) was a Korean soldier who fought in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht during World War II. He is to date the only soldier to fight on three sides of a war, and this legendary status has earned him much recognition.
In 1938, at the age of 18, Yang was in Manchuria when he was conscripted into the Kwantung Army of the Imperial Japanese Army to fight against the Soviet Union. At the time Korea was ruled by Japan. During the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, he was captured by the Soviet Red Army and sent to a labour camp. Because of the manpower shortages faced by the Soviets in its fight against Nazi Germany, in 1942 he was pressed into fighting in the Red Army along with thousands of other prisoners, and was sent to the European eastern front.
In 1943, he was captured by Wehrmacht soldiers in eastern Ukraine during the Third Battle of Kharkov, and was then pressed into fighting for Germany. Yang was sent to Occupied France to serve in a battalion of Soviet prisoners of war known as an “Eastern Battalion“, located on the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy, close to Utah Beach. After the D-Day landings in northern France by theAllied forces, Yang was captured by paratroopers of the United States Army in June 1944. The Americans initially believed him to be a Japanese in German uniform; at the time, Lieutenant Robert Brewer of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, reported that his regiment had captured four Asians in German uniform after the Utah Beach landings, and that initially no one was able to communicate with them. Yang was sent to a prison camp in Britain and later transferred to a camp in the United States. After he was released at the end of the war, he settled in Illinois where he lived until his death in 1992.
In December 2005, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) aired a documentary on the existence of the Asian soldiers who served Nazi Germany and were captured by Allied forces. The documentary concluded that, despite the fact that there were indeed Asian soldiers in the German army during World War II, there was no clear evidence indicating the existence of an individual named Yang Kyoungjong.