Preservation efforts needed to save historic places that remember Korean patriot Ahn's efforts to regain Korea's independence

  • 6 years ago
안중근 의사의 정신을 기억하는 땅…독립운동관련 시설 보존 필요

We are just days away from Korea's independence day.
So let's turn the spotlight to national heroes that fought for liberation from Japan's oppressive rule.
Some left a lasting mark while in other countries.
Which is why the Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs is looking to check out the conditions of such historic sites.
Our Hong Yoo travelled to Harbin to learn more about the lack of preservation efforts there.
Harbin, a beautiful city located in northeastern China, is not only a popular tourist hotspot, it was also scene to the historic independence movement led in part by beloved Korean independence activist Ahn Jung-geun.
Ahn was the hero who helped wrestle Korea's sovereignty back from Imperial Japan.
The dark days of the early 1900s when Korea was colonialized by Imperial Japan brought Ahn to Harbin with the purpose of murdering Ito Hirobumi, the Japanese supervisor of Korea... or Chosun as it was known at the time.

"Harbin train station looks a little different today, but it was here in 1909 where Ahn shot Ito - a historic event in Korea's struggle for independence from imperial Japan."

The platform where it happened was preserved in remembrance of Ahn Jung-geun's bravery until 2015, but it's no longer there.
Even the Ahn Jung-geun Memorial Museum that opened in the station in 2014 has been removed.
The museum has been temporarily relocated inside Harbin Korean National Art Museum.

"A lot of people visited the museum. Especially, South Koreans' interest in Ahn Jung-geun increased and so the museum was able to let people know why he's such an important figure in our history. That's why we are trying our best to make sure the museum gets its place back when construction is complete."

But it remains to be seen whether the museum will get its place back.
It will have to wait until reconstruction work is finished in 2020.

Ahn stayed in Harbin for eleven days and during that time, he stayed in Kim Seong-baek's house, the leader of Chosun society residing in Harbin who worked to solve any problems they faced living in the Chinese city.

"Is this the house in the photo?"
"Yes, it is."

Yet, this house that's such an important part of Korean history has not been preserved at all.
Instead it's home to a local resident.
Likewise, all these historic places that show Ahn's movements in Harbin are not being well managed.

The chief researcher of Korea Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute agrees the historical sites are not being well preserved.

"In order to manage our historical sites efficiently, a private-sector foundation must be created that is composed of experts in the field. The government's role would be to support this foundation monetarily. This would improve the foundation's overall management. "

In fact, the historical sites in Harbin were mostly taken care of by Korean activists until the early 2000s.
Government efforts only started when the public demanded they