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Song Byung-joon Demanded 150 million Yen for the Cession of Sovereignty

Song Byung-joon Demanded 150 million Yen for the Cession of Sovereignty

Posted August. 12, 2004 21:56,   


It has been revealed through the testimony of former officials of the Chosun Governor-General’s office that pro-Japanese official Song Byung-joon, who led the way to cede the Korean Empire’s sovereignty to Japan, demanded 150 million yen in return.

Another fact that also was brought to light: when Yoon Bong-gil and Lee Bong-chang succeeded in their deeds of attacking Japanese officials, the Japanese authorities pointed Baekbum Kim Gu as being behind them and tried to arrest him, but after failing to do so, they ordered the police and soldiers to shoot him upon sight.

Such facts were announced by Japan’s Gakushuin University Research Institute for Oriental Studies, which completed the “Voice Recordings of Chosun Governor-General Officials” by recording interviews with 129 former high ranking officials at the governor-general office. The interviews were conducted between the officials and the researchers, and several high-profile officials were included such as the administrative inspector general, who was the second highest ranked official in the governor-general’s office.

“You can have a vast land and 20 million people. It is a bargain.” Those were words of Song -- according to the testimony of a former official of the governor-general’s financial department -- when he demanded 150 million yen from Ito Hirobumi, a key figure in Korea’s annexation, and Japanese Minister Katsura. After the annexation, Song asked for an additional one million yen, but it is said that his demand was rejected.

Furthermore, Ahn Joong-geun chose to shoot Ito Hirobumi at Harbin station in China because at the time, Harbin was under de-facto Russian jurisdiction and Ahn was expecting to be extradited to Russia and tell the whole world about Japan’s unjust invasion during his trial.

Korean-Japanese Historian Choi Seo-myun commented on the 150 million yen demanded by Song, saying, “It is not clear whether the 150 million yen was the amount of money originally demanded at the time of the annexation or an amount equivalent to the original amount when the official testified in the late 1950s. At the time of the annexation, a few million or tens of million of yen was considered as a huge sum, hence an amount over 100 million is even difficult to imagine, yet alone calculate its current value.”

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com