Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Japan's colonial rule triggers anger from Koreans and Chinese at Asian Games

Japan has protested to Asian Games organisers in South Korea after fans unveiled a large banner (photo) showing Ahn Jung-Geun (a Korean who assassinated a Japanese official a century ago) was shown in a stadium when South Korea beat rivals Japan 1-0 in the Asian Games soccer quarterfinals on Sunday.

Ahn Jung-Geun is considered a hero for killing Hirobumi Ito, a samurai of Choshu domain. Choshu is modern-day Yamaguchi prefecture of current prime minister Shinzo Abe. Ito was Japan’s first prime minister and its top official in Japanese-occupied Korea and killed during a visit to China in 1909. Ahn was hanged the following year, when Korea formally became a Japanese colony.

Japan de facto controlled Korea since late 19th century after a bunch of criminals paid by Japan murdered an opponent to Japanese manoeuvres to annex Korea. Assassins murdered the Korean Queen in her Palace in Seoul October 8th 1895.

Here goes the story: "... upon entering the Kyeongbok Palace's Queen Min's quarters (Okhoru Pavilion), the assassins "killed three court women suspected of being the queen. When they confirmed that one of them was the queen, they burned the corpse in a pine forest in front of the Okhoru Pavilion, and then dispersed the ashes. She was 43 years old. The military personnel involved were tried at a military court. All were given the verdict of not-guilty on the grounds of insufficient evidence."

So today, many Koreans and Chinese regard Ahn Jung-Geun as martyred for Korean independence at a time when Japan colonised and slaughtered Korea. Some say a comparison could be made between French Resistance freedom fighters who fought Nazis occupying France and Ahn Jung-Geun's nationalists.

There is a Chinese-Korean memorial hall opened in China's Harbin city, where Ito was shot (See Ito's photo just before the killing). Ahn Jung-Geun is celebrated as a hero in Korea. Hirobumi Ito is celebrated as a great politician in Japan.

Sport has always been used for political statements, remember the 1968 Black Power salute. What will happen at Tokyo Olympics Summer 2020?

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