Park Tae-jeong, the niece-in-law of Korean independence activist Ahn Jung-geun, passed away on Saturday at the age of 91.
She was laid to rest by her husband Ahn Jin-saeng, a nephew of Ahn Jung-geun, on Monday at the Catholic cemetery in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. She had spent the last 30 years of her life in poverty and illness after her husband passed away in 1988. In July, her condition worsened after catching pneumonia and passed away in three months. The bereaved could not afford to set up a mortuary for her.
Park and her two daughters spent years overseas when her husband started to work as a diplomat in 1962. When Ahn was working as ambassador to the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in 1980, however, he was forced to resign by the Chun Doo-hwan administration and developed cerebral infarction. The family spent most of what they had in treating the disease.
Jin-saeng had not been willing to seek civil decoration declaring that he could not be benefited by his father’s sacrifice for the country. However, Park had actively sought to seek decoration while caring for her husband, researching her father-in-law’s records of independence movement, and submitting the documents. Thanks to her efforts, Ahn Jung-geun was awarded the order of merit in 1987 in recognition as a signatory to the Independence Declaration in 1918.
After Jin-saeng passed away in 1988, the bereaved family spent years in poverty. Without any job or income, Park and her two daughters and granddaughter (Woo Seong-wha, age 35) relied on around 1 million won in basic pension and financial support as their monthly income.
“She struggled with poverty and other family members had to help her out. She was known as the unfortunate one in the family,” said a relative who attended the funeral. When her unfortunate situation became known in 2017 through a report by The Dong-A Ilbo, a benefactor offered to donate a home for her. However, she declined, asking to put the money towards the more unfortunate.