The old man was reminiscing about his experiences immediately after the war. Discharged from the Imperial Army as a suicide-bomber trainee, he returned to school, graduated, very briefly went through a couple of jobs, then settled on a mining company “because the pay was good,” where he wound up spending the rest of his working life, mostly in accounting until he moved up in the ranks to become a senior executive. The conversation turned to forced wartime labor in the mines—I cannot remember why; perhaps the TV was on and there was something in the news—and you might be interested in a couple of things that he said, which I am paraphrasing from memory.
1. When the war ended, the Koreans left the mine immediately without collecting their wages and took the first ship back home. For years, the company kept the ledgers that recorded the wages outstanding, but it disposed of them when it moved offices.
2. I feel sorry for the Chinese prisoners who were brought to work the mine. Many fared poorly, and some died. A company employee (employees?) was executed as a war criminal as a result. He (they?) did what he (they?) could, but some prisoners had arrived already in terrible condition because they had been shipped over under terrible circumstances.