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China Nixes Korean Resistance Statue

Posted March. 23, 2006 03:03,   


Chinese officials recently covered up and removed a statue of Ahn Jung-geun erected in Harbin, China in January to mark the 96th anniversary of Ahn’s execution by the Japanese, according to reports.

The statue was covered and relocated just 10 days after it made its debut on orders from China’s central government.

Harbin is where Ahn assassinated Ito Hirobumi, the leader of the Japanese invasion of Korea, with a revolver. The incident became a milestone in the Korean resistance movement against the Japanese. Ahn was executed 96 years ago on March 26, 1910.

To commemorate his memory, the “Ahn Jung-geun Admiration Association,” led by former Prime Minister Hwang In-seung, and a private businessman Lee held an unveiling ceremony for the4.5m-high statue of on January 16 at a park in a plaza in downtown Harbin.

The statue was located only about 250 meters away from the Harbin railway station where Ahn had performed the assassination, and the palm of the hand seal, which signifies Ahn, is printed largely on the platform of the statue, enabling it to be recognized even from afar.

However, the Chinese government covered the statue with cloth so passersby could not see the statue soon after its unveiling, and then ordered the statue to be moved inside a department store, stating its policy of “disallowing foreign statues to be set up” as the reason.

Regarding this, one businessman who recently visited Harbin said, “I deliberately went to Harbin because I heard about the statue but was disappointed to see it left at a corner of the department store,” and argued, “The government should not leave the matter to private organizations but make diplomatic efforts for the statue to be placed where it should be.”

An official from the Admiration Association said, “The Harbin city government, which agreed to the establishment of the statue, is continuously discussing the matter with the central government which is against the statue’s external exposure,” and added, “The association will spare no effort for the statue to find its rightful place.”

There is practically no trace of Ahn at the Harbin station where the historic event took place with barely a related sign to indicate the event. Japanese had set up a torso of Ito to commemorate him near where he was assassinated, but the Chinese central government removed the torso after Japanese defeat in 1945.

The Korean government and different private organizations had pursued establishing Ahn’s statue in Harbin several times, but was dispelled every time, giving the statue placement itself a significant meaning as an “event.”

Concerning the backdrop of how the statue was set up, the association said, “Private businessman Mr. Lee invested a substantial amount in the newly built department store in Harbin, which leads the city government to grant the statue’s placement.”

The association had persuaded the Harbin city government stating, “The statue set up on privately owned land” as its argument, and Mr. Lee not only invested in the department store but also purchased some park area, which helped to change the city government’s mind.

Dong-Ki Sung esprit@donga.com