The Korea Herald


Veterans minister urges Japan to help locate independence fighter's remains

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : June 15, 2023 - 17:24

    • Link copied

South Korean Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Min-shik speaks at a news conference on Thursday in Seoul. (Veterans Ministry) South Korean Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Min-shik speaks at a news conference on Thursday in Seoul. (Veterans Ministry)

South Korean veterans minister on Thursday asked the Tokyo government for cooperation in locating the remains of Ahn Jung-geun, a Korean Independence fighter who assassinated a prominent statesman of the Japan Empire in protest of its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Although 113 years having passed since Ahn's death in March 1910, South Korea has yet to excavate his remains and time is running out, said Park Min-shik, the veterans minister.

Ahn assassinated Hirobumi Ito, the first resident general of Korea, by shooting him three times at Harbin Railway Station the northeastern China city in October 1909. Ahn was imprisoned, tortured and executed at a Japanese prison in Lushun of Liaoning province in China.

In April 2008, the South Korean government, in collaboration with China, initiated excavation efforts in the vicinity of Lushun Prison. But the project has been unsuccessful so far.

China intends to provide support for South Korea's excavation efforts if Seoul acquires any additional information regarding the potential location of Ahn's remains, Park said.

Japan likely has relevant records of Ahn's remains, the minister said.

"I personally and firmly believe that Japan must have information about the whereabouts of patriot Ahn Jung-geun's burial site in light of the political influence that Hirobumi Ito held in Japan at that time and Japanese culture of thoroughly preserving records," he told reporters.

"While there are differing political and historical perspectives surrounding this issue, I personally believe that it would be desirable for Japan to sufficiently demonstrate its political will on this issue as well, given that this year already marks the 113th anniversary of Ahn's death for his country."

Park was speaking at a press conference held to mark the elevation of the Veterans Ministry into a full-fledged ministry. It will also play a role in strengthening the South Korea-US alliance, he said, adding it plans to dispatch the first-ever residential officer to Washington.

"We promised not only to express gratitude ... but also to demonstrate our appreciation through actions for the dedication of the United States, (and the) blood alliance forged during the Korean War," Park said. "In my view, the blood alliance represents the most significant diplomatic asset among the pillars of the South Korea-US alliance."