1910: Ahn Jung-geun, Korean nationalist

3 comments March 26th, 2010 Headsman

A century go today, Korean independence martyr Ahn Jung-geun (or An Jung-geun) hanged at Port Arthur for assassinating Japanese statesman Ito Hirobumi.

Ahn Jung-geun, who was also a skilled calligrapher (his epigram, “Unless reading everyday, thorns grow in the mouth” is well-known in Korea), actually had a more visionary pan-Asianist agenda than his nationalist byline might initially suggest.

But he militantly opposed Japan’s annexation of the peninsula, and won his hero stature for gunning down Ito in Manchuria.

Ito, for his part, is a national hero in Japan for establishing that country’s parliamentary government and serving as its first Prime Minister.

So, yeah. Still a spot of tension over this incident.

Because the Japanese worried that “if Ahn Jung-geun’s body is handed over to the surviving family or impudent Koreans … it will not be good in the future,” its ultimate deposition has become an enduring historical mystery, with China the current likely suspect. Koreans’ intensified hunt for records pointing to Ahn’s grave has been much in the news during the centennial run-up.

Wherever his bones rest, the Korean patriot (as the saying has it) lives on. He’s even been posthumously promoted by the South Korean army to the rank of “General”.

The recent Korean film 2009 Lost Memories is premised on an radically different alternate timeline starting when Ahn is prevented from killing Ito. Here’s its aesthetically appealing climax, when history is righted.

Scrabbel put the Ahn Jung-geun story to music.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Arts and Literature,Assassins,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Hanged,History,Japan,Korea,Martyrs,Murder,Notable for their Victims,Occupation and Colonialism,Popular Culture,Separatists,Treason

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