It has been confirmed Wednesday that the French version of Korea's petition for independence initially submitted to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 had been kept at the National Archives (NARA) of the United States.
The document has been reserved under the title of "File on the U.S. Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference." The recipient is Woodrow Wilson, sent by Shinjhung and Kimshung.
Shinjhung was the Chinese name of Shin Kyu-sik, the leader of the Dongjesa, known as the most secretive organization supporting the independence movement of Korea. Kimshung is a second name of Kim Kyu-sik, an agent who worked for the same organization. Shin and Kim wrote the petition in Shanghai, China in the capacity of president and secretary-general on Jan. 25, 1919. Kim, representing Kora, delivered the document in person to S. K. Hornbeck, a member of the U.S. delegation, at the Paris Peace Conference.
The petition takes the form of a letter written to the U.S. president, pleading to listen to Korea's situation colonized by Japan's conspiracy and to help restore Korea's independence and freedom.
It has been academically known that the Paris Peace Conference, where Wilson announced the principle of national self-determination and countries discussed the reparations of the first World War, had been a triggering force for the Feb. 8 Declaration of Independence Movement in Tokyo and the March 1 Movement in Korea. The recent discovery is seen as a historical record which can enable a new interpretation of Korea's history of the independence movement.
"The recent discovery of the petition is meaningful as it differs from the traditional view that Kim Kyu-sik attended the Paris Peace Conference representing the Shinhan Youth Party, which was established by Yeo Un-hyung and other activists for independence," said Chung Byung-jun, history professor at Ewha Womans University. “The fact that Shin Kyu-sik and Kim Kyu-sik established an entirely new party and submitted a joint petition under their names can be used as a basis to view their activities from a new perspective.”