An assassination, an inept queen and moreDec. 2, 1947
Independence from Japan’s colonial rule brought both joy and confusion. From independence in 1945 to the start of the Korean War in 1950, political circles suffered from power struggles between divided factions, which sometimes led to assassination. Jang Deok-su, a leader of the Korea Democratic Party, was one such victim.
A core member of the right-wing party, Mr. Jang took the initiative of trying to form a united government of North and South rather than a trustee government divided between pro-American and pro-Russian influences. As a graduate of prestigious Waseda University in Japan, Mr. Jang had also been accused of being pro-Japanese before independence. After graduation, however, Mr. Jang joined an underground resistance and moved to Shanghai, where he spent some time in prison. Confronted by left-wingers, Mr. Jang flew to the United States to enroll in college.
On this date, Mr. Jang was at home in Jegi-dong, northern Seoul, when Park Gwang-ok and Bae Hee-bok, dressed as policemen, attacked the house, shooting him with carbines. He died on the spot. The loss hurt Kim Gu, leader of the Korea Democratic Party, but benefited Syngman Rhee, who backed American trustee rule.
Dec. 4, 897
Queen Jinseong of the Silla Dynasty (BC 57 to AD 935) is not remembered as one of Korea’s greatest rulers. With no prince in the family, she donned the royal crown. At first, she tried to promote culture, having her sidekick Wi Hong publish Korea’s first anthology, “Samdaemok.” The queen ended up hurting her reputation by forming a liaison with Wi Hong. After his death, the dynasty was in shambles, riddled by tax evaders and a shaky military draft system. To worsen matters, lingering political leaders of the Baekje and Goguryeo dynasties, both of which had been destroyed by the Silla Dynasty, struck back. The queen appointed her older brother’s son the prince, then gave up the crown. A few months after her abdication, the queen died on this date.
Dec. 4, 1994
Korea’s biggest blockbuster film ever, 2001’s “Chingu” (Friends), reaches its climax with a gang boss stabbed in revenge by a friend-turned-enemy. Such eye-for-an-eye gangland murder is not just the realm of fiction. On this date, in broad daylight, two gangsters showed up in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul and cut two young people down. The victims were leaving a wedding.
At 3:10 p.m., more than 10 young men showed up outside the New World Hotel. At the sight of Park Shin, then 33, and Yu Jae-su, 29, the gangsters pulled out sashimi knives and stabbed them to death. Mr. Park and Mr. Yu died on the spot. The crime ― downtown and in daylight ― led to pandemonium, and the gangsters managed to flee.
It turns out the gangsters were in a power struggle to take control of southern Seoul. The Naju Yeongsan Faction, who carried out the attack on this date, sought to avenge the killing of several members by an enemy gang, but their two victims were not the intended targets. The police soon arrested Naju Yeongsan Faction gangsters.
by Chun Su-jin