The national seal of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea will return home this year in 46 years to commemorate the centenary of its establishment.
Shin Chang-hyu (85), granddaughter-in-law of Hong Jin (1877-1946), who chaired the Provisional Assembly and the Provisional Government during the Japanese occupation, recently said in an exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo that she will “donate the official seal of the Provisional Assembly that used to be owned by her husband to the National Assembly when the statue of Hong Jin is established.”
The seal was used for the official documents of the Provisional Assembly, which served as parliament back then as evidenced by the fact that the provisional constitution had an article, which stated “the Provisional Assembly holds the highest power in the Republic of Korea” (as amended in 1927). With the Provisional Government, the seal traveled some 4,000 kilometers within China alone, and later in the hands of late Hong Seok-ju, grandson of Hong Jin, it moved over tens of thousands of kilometers to Japan and the United States for 100 years.
The seal that Shin disclosed to the Dong-A Ilbo is a black wooden seal with engraved characters referring to “the seal of the Provisional Assembly.” Seok-ju left a document that explains the seal was “brought by grandfather (Hong Jin) from Chongqing in 1945. It had been used by the Provisional Assembly from 1919.” Seok-ju made painstaking efforts to keep the seal safe while the nation was going through turbulence including the Korean War. Even after he emigrated to the United States in 1973, he tried several times to donate the seal to the Korean government, hoping to see what his grandfather did be rightly recognized. Yet, his dream did not come true until he passed away at the age of 87 in 2016.
The seal is expected to be donated to the National Assembly on April 10, when the country marks the 100th anniversary of holding the first session of the Provisional Assembly in Shanghai.
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