|A visitor looks at the statue of independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. ( Yonhap)|
DALIAN, China (Yonhap) ― A delegation of South Korean lawmakers held a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the 104th anniversary of the execution by the Japanese of a Korean national hero who assassinated a top Japanese official more than a century ago, honoring him as an anti-Japanese martyr.
Ahn Jung-geun shot to death the Korean Peninsula’s first Japanese governor-general, Hirobumi Ito, at a railway station in Harbin in 1909. A year later, or months after Japan formally annexed Korea, he was executed at a Japanese prison in the northern Chinese district of Ryojun, now called Lushun in the city of Dalian.
People attending this year’s remembrance service were upbeat as it came about two months after China opened a memorial hall at the Harbin railway station honoring Ahn.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye requested that Chinese President Xi Jinping establish a statue for Ahn during a summit last June, but Xi responded by ordering China to build the full-scale memorial facility. Such a move was largely symbolic, but it indicated a bolstering of ties between South Korea and China.
About 200 people, including the South Korean delegation led by Rep. Suh Chung-won of the ruling Saenuri Party, attended the ceremony.
At a meeting with the South Korean lawmakers, Tang Jun, Communist Party head of Dalian city, said, “Martyr Ahn is also a famous anti-Japanese activist in China.”
Tang said his city would actively support the remembrance service.
The memorial hall for Ahn has drawn about 500 visitors, mostly Chinese people, per day, with cumulative visitors surpassing 20,000 about two months after its opening.