Vandalized graves, a murdered loyalist, a hijacked plane

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Vandalized graves, a murdered loyalist, a hijacked plane

March 31, 1999
Many Koreans have a strong faith in feng shui, especially when it comes to selecting the location of graveyards. If a descendent receives a fine burial site and it is cared for, it is believed the ancestor will repay you. Thus, vandalizing an ancestor’s grave has been a popular way of cursing someone. This happened to Lee Hoi-chang, a presidential candidate in the past two elections. On this date, Mr. Lee’s uncle Lee Wan-gyu, announced publicly that his family had found 70 centimeter long (28 inch) brass spears driven deep into seven family graves, around where heads of the deceased lay.
Family living in Yesan, South Chungcheong province, found the spears earlier in the month while exhuming and relocating one of the graves. With metal detectors, they scoured the 3,300 square meter (36,000 square feet) site and discovered seven damaged graves, thought to have occurred during the 1997 presidential election when Mr. Lee first ran for the office. Avoiding a police investigation, the Lees performed ancestral rites instead, which seemed not to placate the ancestors, considering Mr. Lee’s unsuccessful elections in 1997 and 2002.

April 4, 1392
Jeong Mong-ju, a Confucian scholar and high-ranking government official of the late Goryeo Dynasty (918 to 1392), is synonymous with loyalism in Korean history. On this date, Mr. Jeong was assassinated, beaten to death by an iron rod.
Mr. Jeong was among the few faithful to that era’s rulers, resisting a growing power base led by army brass Lee Seong-gye and his son Lee Bang-won, who sought to build up a new dynasty. With the Goryeo Dynasty waning in influence, the Lees’ only obstacle was the small but unbending loyalist group that included Mr. Jeong. Early on this date, the junior Lee invited Mr. Jeong over for a drink and recited the poem “Hayeoga” (Be that as it may). Mr. Jeong complimented Lee junior on his performance and responded with the poem “Dansimga” (Single-heartedness). As the two knew each other’s intentions, there was nothing left to talk about. On his way home, as Mr. Jeong passed the Seonjuk Bridge in Gaeseong, the provincial capital, a Lee subordinate bearing an iron rod in one hand stopped him. “Your destiny has reached its end,” the deputy reportedly said. Mr. Jeong dismounted his horse, glared at the henchman and tried to scold him, only to be bludgeoned to death with the iron rod. His blood splattered across the bridge, and stains are said to remain on the bridge, now in North Korea, to this day.

April 6, 1958
On Feb. 16, 1958, a plane belonging to KNA, the predecessor to Korean Air, was hijacked on its way from Busan to Seoul. Among the 29 passengers, seven were incited by Gi Deok-yeong, a North Korean spy in the South, to threaten other passengers and four crew to change course to Pyeongyang. The Red Cross and South Korean government pleaded with the North Koreans to return the hostages. On this date, four crew members and 22 passengers ― all but the seven accomplices ― were repatriated safely via Panmunjeom border village.


by Chun Su-jin
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