I thank you for revealing to me the name of this interesting character. So you would agree with me that Colonel Lee Gun-Suk would be the most appropriate spelling of his name and surname? According to this website [*], I would say yes.
It seems that most of the sources agree that he, while being probably mortally wounded, crashed his airplane into the North Korean tanks.
I thank you for his biography. I see he was actually from North Korea.
Klemen L, was your source the book "The Anguish of Surrender"? it pops up on Google with a similar quote to what you said, "Aoki" was Lee. Does any other source say it?
Yes, your asseumption is correct. My source on this is "The Anguish of Surrender". I haven't been able to find out any further information about him from any other sources. But recently a new book has been published about Japanese POWs in India 1942-46 so perhaps this new source has some extra information.
Per "Bloody Shambles" vol 1 by Shores et al, the 77th Sentai lost 3 Ki-27's Dec 25 1941 (and the 64th Sentai 2 Ki-43's) escorting Ki-21 bombers (4 lost) over Rangoon, against 67th Sdn RAF Buffalo's (4 lost) and AVG P-40's (2 lost), each side's claims at the time higher of course. One of the 77th pilots missing and presumed dead by his unit was a Warrant Officer Aoki, so that fits. Being so early in the Pacific War 20 victories does seem highly unlikely, but it seems he actually did fly combat against the Allies.
Yes, indeed. The story seems to match up perfectly. I also haven't been able to find him on any Japanese Army or Navy ace list, that is assuming he flew as Aoki Akira and not under any other assumed Japanese surname. Assuming he already completed the flight course in 1934 one would expect him to see some action over China before World War 2, where it is possible that he shot down some (any) Chinese aircraft.
On the other side (of the Korean War) the vice chief of the NK air force at the start of the war, Lee Whal (李闊) was a graduate of the "Nagoya AF school" per the book "Buk han inmingun daesa" (北韓人民軍隊史) and his JAAF service is also mentioned in US intel documents, the source there being the Yak-9 pilot Bak Gyung-Ok shot down and captured right at the beginning of the KW.
Thank you for sharing this interesting piece of information. Do you have perhaps any further details about his war service with the IJAAF?
I would also otherwise be interested in some information about Koreans who served in the IJAAF, IJNAF and Imperial Navy. While I was able to find some information about Koreans in the Labour Corps and IJA, they seem to be rather rare in the other three branches.