Remains of General Hong Beom-do (1868-1943), an independence fighter who led the independence army to victory during the Battle of Cheongsan-ri and the Battle of Bongo-dong, will return home after 78 years on Aug. 15, the national liberation day of Korea.
Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Park Kyung-mi told reporters Thursday that Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will pay a state visit to South Korea next Tuesday and Wednesday upon President Moon Jae-in’s invitation. “President Tokayev’s state visit will coincide with the repatriation of the remains of Gen. Hong-Beom-do, currently buried at a cemetery in Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan. Gen. Hong’s remains will arrive on next Monday afternoon and will be buried at Daejeon National Cemetery next Wednesday following an official national mourning period,” the spokeswoman said.
President Moon plans to send a special delegation on Saturday, led by the Minister of Patriot and Veterans Affairs Hwang Ki-chul, to Kazakhstan to bring Hong’s remains back to Korea. The delegation will also include Gen. Hong Beom-do Commemoration Committee Chairman Woo Won-shik, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, and actor Cho Jin-woong, an envoy for the Shingeung Military Officer School Commemoration Council. During the state visit to Kazakhstan back in April 2019, President Moon requested the repatriation of the remains of Gen. Hong Beom-do, and the two governments have since been holding talks on necessary matters. The repatriation of the remains was initially scheduled for last year, marking 100th anniversary of the victory of the Battle of Bongo-dong, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The repatriation of the remains of Gen. Hong Beom-do is particularly meaningful. He will posthumously receive the Order of Merit for National Foundation, Republic of Korea Medal, the highest honorary order, in a renewed recognition of his service to the country in promoting friendship between the Republic of Korea and Kazakhstan. He not only revived and inspired the national spirit and patriotic ardor of the Korean people but also contributed to the development of the identity of Koryo Saram (ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states),” Presidential secretary for national defense Kang Shin-chul said. Gen. Hong was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit for National Foundation, Presidential Medal back in 1962.
President Togayev’s visit to Korea is his first in five years since 2016, and it is also the first state visit since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in January 2020. “Kazakhstan is not only Korea’s biggest trading partner and investment destination in Central Asia but also an important companion for the New Northern Policy,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman said. “Marking 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the summit will focus on measures to expand bilateral cooperation in key areas including transportation, infrastructure, construction, ICT, health care, and environment.”