Go to contents

Health Problems Plague History Scholar

Posted November. 29, 2005 07:51,   


Having been credited with the most important historical find related to the Korean patriot Ahn Jung-geun, Korean-Japanese historian Kim Jeong Myong (76•Japanese name: Ichihara Masaki), a professor emeritus of Aomori University, has been living his latter years in obscurity.

Kim had vigorously involved himself in activities such as organizing the Korea Unification Studies Symposium until falling ill in 1993. On top of his illness, his wife Ichihara Emiko (65), who had been caring for him while running a small clothing shop, was recently diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and is being treated in a hospital.

Professor Kim was the finder of the original manuscript of Ahn Jung-geun’s: “An Argument for Oriental Peace,” which Ahn had wrote during his imprisonment after assassinating Ito Hirobumi, a Japanese politician and a former resident-general of Korea.

Kim had also been credited with finding and restoring ‘The History of Ahn Ung-chil’, a manuscript known as Ahn’s autobiography that had stirred up much dispute over its authenticity. Kim has been celebrated as an Ahn expert, and it was through his effort that many of Ahn’s remaining articles finally returned to Korea.

The manuscript of “An Argument for Oriental Peace” found by Kim is a hand-written copy. It was transcribed by a Japanese who had been inspired by Ahn. The original was never found.

Hara Shobo Publishing recently released Professor Kim’s thesis: “Ahn Jung-geun and The Source of Joseon’s Independent Movement’ as part of its 457 volumes of “100 Years of Meiji” (Meiji 100nen Sosho) series. The book’s dedication reads: “To my wife, who is fighting disease”

Meeting with this reporter at his home in Tokyo, he worried about his wife’s health more than his own. “My wife said she had gotten better after seeing my book, but it seems she got worse after.”

Their only married daughter is caring for her both parents, and the clothing shop had to be closed down.

He struggled, even with a cane, and needed a helping hand to walk to the next door tea house. He has ceased all research, but he showed his vigorous scholarly interest in the issues such as disputes over Dokdo Island, Korea’s unification, and excavation of Ahn Jung-geun’s remains.

He wishes to reopen the Korea Unification Studies Symposium which had been discontinued after marking the 10th conference as its last, when Kim had fallen ill.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com