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A Letter to a Father Who Fought Japan

Posted August. 15, 2006 03:13,   


Anti-Japanese Movement Fighter.

This title is indeed one which is given as the proud result of recovering one`s own country. However, to the families who have such "fighters" as fathers, this title often means trouble and hardship.

To Lee Hyung-jin (52), the representative director of Emitech, a company which specializes in measures regarding military electromagnetic waves, "fighter" meant trouble and hardship. His father was independence activist Lee Jae-hyun (1917∼1997), an officer of the National Independence Army who, in 1945, worked with the U.S. Office of Strategic Service (OSS) to prepare to move into Korea.

Mr. Lee is trying to understand his father, belated as it is, by participating in the "Survey of Anti-Japanese Armed Movement Sites in China" (August 5 - 16), organized by President Kim Ja-dong of the Korea Provisionary Government Commemorative Committee. And he wrote a letter of regret and love to his father.

“Father, you were a true fighter who never goes unmentioned in Anti-Japanese Armed Movement history. You received an Independent Medal under the Order of Merit for National Foundation in 1963. Everybody tells me that I should be proud of you, but to be honest, I hated you. You never thought of your family. So we were always in poor circumstances. Mother had to do all sorts of odd jobs to raise your two boys and three girls. Some people exaggerate their anti-Japanese merits or even create non-existing ones to receive national benefits, but you were reluctant to speak of the things that you had actually done. From the 1960s, you spent your entire life and our family`s living expenses in compiling an Esperanto-Korean dictionary, and I hated you for it. In the summer of 1973, after 10 years of living abroad by yourself, you returned to Korea and came to see me while I was in the army. You wanted to buy me a drink, but I turned away, saying, ‘I have no father.’ A few years later, I told you to go see President Park Jung-hee. I felt you had the right to demand compensation for what you accomplished in the war against Japan. I still remember what you said that day. ‘Your country is worth giving your life for. That is why I fought for my country. A fighter is only a fighter. He does not request compensation or shares.’ When you passed away in February 1997, all you left us was four and a half million won in your pension account.

I arrived in Xian, China, on August 7 and looked around the post, drill field, and OSS member living quarters of the second detachment of the Independence Army which you were part of. On August 8, I set up your picture and my uncle`s on the campus of Xibei University in Xian and had a little religious service of my own. The only offerings I had were the soju and choco pie I brought from Korea, which you loved so much when you were with us.

Father, I am finally proud of you now.”