“Not even his family knew that my grandfather was involved in such a significant undertaking. Thank you for finding the roots of the family business.”
Yoo Ki Ok (64), who runs the “Daeseongsa Brewery” for the third generation in Goesan County, North Chungcheong Province, first learned in October that her grandfather had donated 5 won to the “National donation for the preservation of Chungmugong remains” led by The Dong-A Ilbo in June 1931. This fact was unveiled as the Cultural Heritage Administration Hyeonchungsa Management Office started searching for the descendants of the patriots who made donations to protect Wito (land for the maintenance of the tomb) for Chungmugong at the time in June, marking the 90th anniversary of the Hyeonchungsa reconstruction this year.
On Friday afternoon, the Hyeonchungsa Management Office held an invitation event for descendants of national donation donors at Hyeonchungsa Temple in Asan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, and delivered plaques of appreciation to the descendants of donors (31 individuals and 21 groups) found so far, including Ms. Yu. Ms. Yu said, “I will carry on as a family tradition the spirit with which my grandfather willingly donated to when the nation was in need.”
Daegu Sangwon High School in Daegu also received a plaque of appreciation. In 1931, students at Daegu Commercial High School, the predecessor of this school, sent 16.3 won to the Dong-A Ilbo. Principal Yoo Jin Kwon said, “Next year, the school will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and I will make sure that students follow in the footsteps of their seniors who took the initiative when the country was in need.”
The campaign to raise funds for the preservation of Chungmugong’s remains was triggered on May 13, 1931, when Dong-A Ilbo wrote a special article titled “Lee Chungmugong’s grave being auctioned for 2,000 won.” “The land for the graveyard maintenance of Yi Chungmugong, for whom the nation is forever in debt, is in danger of being auctioned off.” Widang In-bo Chŏng (1893∼1950), an editorial writer and independent activist, appealed in an editorial the next day, “The preservation of Chungmugong’s tomb and Wito is the responsibility of all Koreans.”
At that time, a Dong-A report rekindled the nation's patriotic spirit. By June 1932, about 20,000 people and 400 organizations raised 16,021.3 won (equivalent to 1 billion won today) in funds donated to Dong-A Ilbo-led ‘Lee Chungmugong Remains Preservation Committee. In the end, the Preservation Committee was able to recover Chungmugong Wito, and with the remaining money, Hyeonchungsa was rebuilt next to Chungmugong's old residence in 1932. In August of this year, the Cultural Heritage Administration designated 4,254 historical records, including letters of donation and bills of expenditure, as nationally registered cultural assets.