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Long journey to independence

Posted March. 02, 2017 07:12,   

Updated March. 02, 2017 07:19


“Bullets were coming down from the sky with a thundering sound. I had no idea but to get off the train and run to hide myself.” This is how Jeong Jeong-hwa, known as Joan of Arc of Korea, recalls her escape in her “Chang Jiang Diary.” When the train carrying agents of the provisional government and her family was attacked by the Japanese army near Guangzhou, China, she had to escape for her life. It has been told that she used to manage housekeeping for agents living alone at the provisional government.

The March 1 Independence Movement led to a monumental achievement in Korea’s independence. The provisional government was established in Shanghai on April 13, 1919. Unfortunately, the passion and eager that propelled independence activists subdued as time passes by. Supports and interests from the mainland Korea also soon weakened. “Hongkou Park bombing” in 1932, which was orchestrated by Kim Gu and executed by Yun Bong-gil, was a decisive turning point to add more vigor and energy to independence fighters in China. However, in the face of strong suppression and retaliation from the Japanese army, the provisional government had no other choice but to leave Shanghai after 13 years since its foundation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade found an office building in Guangzhou, which was occupied by independence activists of the provisional government. The building was used for about two months in 1938 and discovered after 79 years. As Jeong Jeong-hwa detailed in her diary, she had hurriedly left Guangzhou with her allies and ambushed by the Japanese army. Before settled in Guangzhou, independence activists of the provisional government had wandered around Hangzhou, Zhenjiang and Changsha. After leaving Guangzhou, they had to hide in Liuzhou and Qijiang until 1939. It was 1940 when they finally settled in Qijiang and armed themselves to fight back the Japanese army. They had to travel about 5,100 kilometers for eight years.

A Shooting incident occurred when they settled in Changsha. Korean National party, Joseon Revolution Party and Korean Independence Party were having a meeting in Changsha. A disgruntled member of the Joseon Revolution Party tried to shoot and kill Kim Koo. One man died from the shooting and Kim was near to death. Despite of many difficulties and challenges, the provisional government never gave up the hope for the harmony between the right and the left. It has been told that independence fighters always worried about others before themselves even on their way to escape. Sadly, Korea is dealing with a heated debate on impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. The 98th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement was almost shadowed by people who filled Gwanghwamun in Seoul and shouted their slogans out. Our ancestors who risked their lives and underwent many obstacles for Korea’s independence will be disappointed at the public divided over impeachment.