Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on Sunday faced opposition from its alumni and students over a plan to erect a statue of its founder, who is suspected of aiding Japan during its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.
HUFS recently notified its alumni that the university will unveil a statue of Kim Heung-bae, the school’s founder, during the university’s 60th anniversary on April 18.
But some of the school’s alumni have said the university should abandon its plan for the statue. They said Kim was one of the names considered for the 2008 list of alleged pro-Japanese collaborators, although he was left off the final list due to the lack of an investigation.
“The university must think twice before building a statute of a person who was pro-Japanese, just because he is the founder,” said an unnamed alumni of HUFS.
The emergency committee for the HUFS student council also decried the decision, saying that despite all of Kim’s accomplishments, pro-Japanese actions during the colonial era cannot be overlooked.
The student council said it will discuss further plans concerning the controversial statue with students in every college of the school.
Kim Heung-bae made his fortune through numerous businesses in the mid-20th century and was recognized for his contribution to the Korean economy and education, even receiving an Order of Civil Merit in 1983.
The entrepreneur also built and ran a clothing factory that provided material for the Japanese army. He also was a board member of a pro-Japanese organization during World War II.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)