The South Korean ambassador to China will make a two-day visit to a Chinese memorial hall this week to pay tribute to a revered Korean independence hero, an embassy official said Tuesday.
The planned visit by Amb. Kwon Young-se to the memorial hall in the northern Chinese city of Harbin comes nearly one month after China opened the facility. The hall honors Ahn Jung-geun, a symbol of the Korean independence movement who assassinated a prominent Japanese colonial leader a century ago.
Ahn shot to death the Korean Peninsula's first Japanese governor-general, Hirobumi Ito, at a railway station in Harbin in 1909. Ahn is viewed as a national hero, given his act of resistance against imperial Japan, but Japan has denounced the Chinese memorial as a "tribute to a terrorist."
Both South Korea and China have brushed off the Japanese criticism, with Beijing praising Ahn as "a famous anti-Japanese high-minded person."
"Amb. Kwon will visit the memorial hall built in honor of Ahn Jung-geun during his two-day visit to Harbin from Thursday and meet with the provincial chief of Heilongjiang," the official at the South Korean embassy said on the condition of anonymity.
Japan's relations with both South Korea and China have plunged to one of their lowest points in many years over their shared history and territorial disputes.
Japan has drawn scathing criticism from South Korea and China after its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, paid homage in December last year to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors 14 Class-A war criminals convicted by the Allied forces after World War II.
Chinese media has said the memorial to Ahn is aimed at shedding light on Japan's transgressions in the 20th century at a time when Japan is repeatedly antagonizing South Korea and China by attempting to minimize its responsibility for war. (Yonhap News)