New Movement to Demolish Statues of Japanese Collaborators

Proving that nothing is exempt from Korea’s continuing quest to purge the influence of colonial Japan, civic groups are now demanding that statues to Koreans who collaborated with the Japanese be destroyed. In multiple cases, local governments have erected statues to Korean military heroes or national icons, only to find out that the individuals immortalized in bronze also supported the colonial authorities.

Statue of Kim Hwal-lan, the founder of Ewha Women's University, covered in messages demanding its removal for his role in mobilizing female students for the war effort

Statue of Kim Hwal-lan, the founder of Ewha Women’s University, covered in messages demanding its removal for his role in mobilizing female students for the war effort

The statues continue the list of symbols tainted by bitterness over Japan’s treatment of Korea during the forty-year occupation, including Buddhist statues, bathrobes, and, of course, islands.

Online reaction linked the continued failure to punish collaborators to the legacy of former President Park Chung-Hee, who served in the Japanese colonial military and whose daughter is now the president of South Korea.

Article from SBS:

Controversy over the Removal of Statues to Pro-Japanese Koreans

By Kwon Ji-yoon
As time has passed, it has come out that many Koreans who were honored with a statue for their service to their country were also collaborators with the Japanese. In a new chapter in the controversy, groups are demanding that these statues be removed from public places, while others argue that they should stay as reminders.

A statue, located to one side of the Geoje POW Camp Historic Park, was erected to praise General Kim Baek-il(1917-1951), who commanded the withdrawal action in Heungnam during the Korean War, an action which saved the lives of 100,000 civilians.

(Local resident): “I guess he was great, and he did a good job during the Korean War.”

However, General Kim was also involved in the establishment of the Gando Special Forces, which took the initiative to suppress Korean independence fighters during the Japanese occupation.  Many have criticized the statue in his honor and demanded that it should be demolished. Although the mayor of Geoje ordered the statue to be removed, the organization which originally erected the statue has started legal action, resulting in a stalemate for the past three years.

This is not the only statue that has become controversial. Kim Hwal-lan(1899-1970) was the president of Ewha Women’s University and a statue in her honor was placed on the campus of the school. Kim was also involved in pro-Japanese activities, including encouraging the militarization of students, actions which have led many students at Ewha to demand the removal of the statue.

kim dong in statue destroy

Similarly, the statues of Kim Sung-soo, founder of Korea University, at the Seoul Grand Park and of Kim Dong-in, pioneer of modern Korean literature, at the Children’s Grand Park, have also attracted controversy, as both men turned out to be pro-Japanese.

According to Professor Park Chan-seung of Hanyang University, “The main controversy over this issue has to do with the people who committed pro-Japanese activities during the Japanese colonial era but who also performed charitable deeds after the liberation from Japanese imperialism in 1945. In this case, I think it would be better to describe the historical fact just as it is.”

At the traditional village “Ara-ri chon” in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, there was a conflict over the statue of Lee Beom-ik, a pro-Japanese governor during the Japanese colonial era. A stone inscription pointing out his indelible pro-Japanese activity was erected next to the statue praising his achievements. Illustrating both Lee’s good and wrong deeds may prove to be a historical lesson.

Kang Gi-hee, President of Cultural Action in Jeongseon, a historical revision group, said that “the history of pro-Japanese activities will never fade away if the statue is demolished. It would rather be better to make a stone inscription to remember every single act of collaboration with Japan.”

It is hard to say that this is a perfect solution for the controversy, but many argue that it would be better than a consuming debate over the removal of the statue.

Comments from Daum:


While those who sacrificed their lives for their country were treated like dirt, why do we have a statue for crazy guys loyal to Japanese imperialism? What a wonderful country!


In Daegu, Gyeong-buk, there is also a statue of a traitor, a former pro-Japanese general. Please demolish it! We will never be able to order Japan to apologize for the past without a removal of the statue.


Why do I have to pay a tax for the establishment of a memorial hall to Park Chung-hee, a former president of Korea? There were only 1,000 pro-Japanese people officially identified. That is precious few compared to the population of 20 million at that time. However, it is true that it is not easy to punish them. But leniency suggests that those thousand have enough power to ignore over 50 million people now. Needless to say, we must know who they are.


高木正雄(Dakaki Masao-a Japanese name of Park Chung-hee). Was he buried in the Seoul National Cemetery?


The top priority here is to get rid of the traces of Dakaki Masao.


Sadly, it looks like I live in a country where they erect statues of traitors.


It’s obvious that tolerating these opportunists once will lead to them taking advantage of us again and again. The pro-Japanese group should be tracked down and noted in our history so as to alert people to the dangers of traitors. Plus, it should prevent people from getting involved in the South Korean Labor Party.


It doesn’t make sense that the people who voted for the daughter of the pro-Japanese former president are now trying to punish pro-Japanese collaborators. Don’t pretend to be against Japan.


This is the history of Gyeongsang Province. The Huns found this region named “Silla.” After it conquered the region of the Goguryeo, it was sold by the Chinese, which led to a miserable history under them. In the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 for seven years, the people in this area bore Japanese babies. The riot of the bbalgaeng-i happened in Dae-gu. They always cast all votes for Grand National Party (Hannara-dang) after IMF, after the impeachment of Roh Moo-hyun, a former president, and after the general election on April 11, 2012. Still, they do the same thing for Park Geun-hye. This is Gyeonsang Provinces, home ground for Chun Doo-hwan and Il-be. They will hinder Korean unification, which will lead to the jang-gae taking over the territory of North Korea. I am confident to say that Korea will go under due to the Gyeongsang people, the Huns, and the pro-Japanese collaborators.


This is why Japan looks down on Korea.


Martyrs for our country such as Ahn Jung-geun and You Gwan-sun, we can’t find them anymore. It seems like if you want to succeed and enrich your descendants, selling out your country is the way to go.  Let me say to the Korean people: “Be happy and live longer, betray your homeland.”


When are you going to stop admiring the guys who sold out their country?


If they refuse to remove the statues, men should use them as a public toilet.


Do you know the reasons why the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations failed? It’s because they didn’t eliminate the legacy of pro-Japanese traitors. Who can?? It won’t be easy, but we should have gotten rid of all of them. If we don’t, there will be no future for our country. We should not allow history to be distorted.


Why does Ddongsang-do (an insult for Gyeonsang Province) have lots of pro-Japanese guys? It can be traced back to a Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. They are all from the same blood.


I feel sorry that my father and grandfather never betrayed their country, had they done so, I would be a full, successful man.


This shows how much the stink of colonialism and betrayal still hangs on this country.

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