Independence fighters under Japanese colonial rule and their descendants are protesting the government`s plan to build a history museum, claiming that it does injustice to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea which was set up in 1919 in Shanghai.
The group of contributors to independence and their kin dubbed the Korea Liberation Association said the museum project honored pro-Japan collaborators who participated in launching the ROK government in 1948.
They took issue with the museum`s exhibition plan which states 1948 as the founding year of "Daehanminguk," or the Republic of Korea, arguing that it disregards the provisional government which coordinated independence movements and armed resistance against the Japanese army until liberation in 1945.
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs also demanded that the clause should be revised to "the founding year of the ROK government."
The establishment of the South Korean government was declared on Aug. 15, 1948 by Syngman Rhee despite former independence activists` opposition to setting up separate governments in South and North Korea.
"The republic has its roots in the provisional government that was born of the March First Independence Movement," the Korea Liberation Association said in a press conference on Sunday.
"The government must scrap its plan to build the history museum in honor of pro-Japan collaborators who took part in the republic`s founding."
The government plans to remodel the Culture Ministry headquarters in Seoul into a museum featuring Korea`s modern history by 2012. Construction is scheduled to begin in August this year.
"We will not attend government ceremonies to commemorate the March 1 Independence Movement Day or the Aug. 15 Liberation Day unless the administration corrects its fallacious view of history," the KLA said.
The association plans to stage a mass rally in front of the Culture Ministry building tomorrow to protest the museum project.
The KLA is also against inviting the Japanese emperor to Seoul "without proper understanding of history" and a pending bill on honoring those who founded the ROK government.
"Many of them were pro-Japan collaborators," said Kim Young-il, president of the KLA.
"It would be absurd to grant medals of merit to both traitors and contributors to independence."
The Lee Myung-bak administration had attempted to rename Liberation Day as the National Foundation Day in 2008, but withdrew the plan in the face of fierce backlash.
By Kim So-hyun