Posted August. 16, 2017 07:37,
Updated August. 16, 2017 07:55
The Nakdong River bends towards the north under the Yimha Dam in the southeastern city of Andong. There is Yimcheonggak, National Treasure no. 182, on the slope over the railway in the west. The building is the Head House of the Lee family in Goseong. It was built in 1519 and was remodeled twice after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. President Moon Jae-in mentioned a story of the building, the main family head house of Lee Sang-ryong, an independence fighter, in the presidential speech on Korean National Liberation Day.
Lee Sang-ryong disposed his entire wealth after Lee Hoe-young and his family crossed the Yalu River to fight for independence. He burned the slavery document in January 1911 and moved to west Manchuria with his some 50 family members. He set up a Korean village with around 500 Koreans who shared a sense of loss of their country. To support independence movement and Korean immigrants, he organized an independent body called Gyeonghaksa and set up a military school to foster independence fighters. Selected as the head of Gyeonghaksa, he served as the first president under a cabinet system during the interim administration in Shanghai in 1925.
His family led an independence movement in west Manchuria and produced as many as nine independence patriots. The imperial Japan tried to remove Yimcheonggak by building a railway in retaliation. The Lee family and residents strongly opposed the plan, but Japan was persistent. It changed the design so that the railway would run through the garden of his house to intentionally harm the house. It also designed two sharp curves in a short 10-kilometer distance. Construction costs multiplied. The railway harmed the beautiful landscape of the building and the Nakdong River. Now, it has only 70 out of 99 rooms.
Lee Sang-ryong died at 74 in 1932 after Japan occupied Manchuria and left a will, “My body does not move until we become independent.” Like him, Lee Hoi-young, another independence fighter, committed himself to education and independence movement against the Japanese colonial rule, giving up his wealth and status, and died in the same year. President Moon visited the place in May last year and left a message, “I will seek a complete restoration of Yimcheonggak.”
To celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the National Liberation Day, the Seoul Museum of History is hosting special exhibition “Road to Democracy, Road to Freedom” on Lee Hoi-young and his five brothers until Oct. 15. The two men have made us respect their patriotism and sacrifice.