1st woman pilot crashes, taegeukgi raised, farmer rebels

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1st woman pilot crashes, taegeukgi raised, farmer rebels

Aug. 7, 1933
Park Gyeong-won, the first Korean woman pilot, was killed in an airplane crash on this date. Ms. Park was on her way back home from Japan when the crash occurred. After 50 minutes of flying solo, Ms. Park’s plane, Cheongyeon, or “Blue Swallow,” plunged into a mountain in the Shizuoka district, for unknown reasons.
Born in 1901 in Daegu, Ms. Park was the fourth daughter born to parents who wanted a son. Raised in a conservative family, Ms. Park could not get a proper education, which led her to take the initiative in seeking out a missionary boarding school to study nursing. Ms. Park soon discovered, however, that she was not cut out for nursing. Thus, in 1925, during the colonial rule by Japan, she fled to Tokyo on her own and entered an aviation school.
Ms. Park was happy about her pursuit of aviation, despite having to juggle several part-time jobs to pay the tuition. In a letter dated 1925, Ms. Park wrote, “No matter what it takes, I am determined to succeed as a pilot.” Financial difficulties were easier to overcome than the jeers from her colleagues that she had to bear.
Against all odds, Ms. Park passed the flight test in 1928 to finally realize her dream of becoming a pilot. She made a name for herself in Japan, after winning several flying competitions. She even had admirers, supposedly including Matajiro Koizumi, grandfather of the current Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Ms. Park did not want to get married, claiming her plane was the love of her life. In 1933, Ms. Park was agitated to hear rumors about Japan’s possibly going to war. She decided to fly back to Korea with the thought that she might not be able to see home again, which led to her tragic end.

Aug. 9, 1882
Taegeukgi, the Korean national flag, was officially used on this date for the first time. A national flag was not necessary for Koreans until the late Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910), when foreign powers issued forth ships decorated with their nations’ flags. A group of diplomats came up with the first taegeukgi on their way to Japan from Incheon port. The group completed drawing the national flag on a Japanese ship, and hoisted it on the rooftop of their quarters in Kobe, Japan.

Aug. 9, 1948
Lee Dong-nyeong (1869 to 1940), who fought for Korea’s independence in Japan, did not make it home alive. On this date, his ashes were sent to Korea from China. Born in Cheonan, South Chungcheong province, Mr. Lee did not wish to be a mere farmer, when his country had been taken over by Japan since his youth. Mr. Lee therefore became actively involved in the underground independence movement, which drove him to leave his home country for China. Along with his comrades, Mr. Lee established schools to train resistance soldiers to fight Japanese colonial rule, and launched newspapers. With another leading activist, Kim Gu, Mr. Lee planned war against Japan. But in Schwan, northern China, he died of natural causes.

by Chun Su-jin
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