[FOUNTAIN]Fathers’ sins and history’s harsh gaze

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[FOUNTAIN]Fathers’ sins and history’s harsh gaze

On Nov. 9, 1943, a military officer spoke at the Bumimgwan, today’s Seoul City Council, to encourage Korean students to enlist in the Japanese Imperial Army. He was, in fact, born Kim Seok-won, a Korean.
When Korea gained independence in 1945, he became a colonel in the the Republic of Korea Army. In 1960, he became an Assembly member, and then was named a director of the Federation of Private Schools in 1961. A recipient of the Chungmu Medal of Military Merit and Moran Order of Civil Merit, he died in 1978.
Jang Jik-sang was the second son of Jang Seung-won, who was the governor of North Gyeongsang province in the last days of the Joseon Dynasty. The son served as the head of Hahyang and Seonsan counties there. In 1920, he established the Gyeongil Bank in Daegu. A decade later, he was made a head of Jungchuwon, an agency under the Japanese colonial government that propagated Japanese imperial ambitions. In 1940, he became an Assemblyman and mobilized human and material resources for Japan’s military campaign during World War II. He changed his name to Harimoto, and devoted himself to raising funds for the war waged by Japan. After the independence, he ran an electrical business in the Daegu region until his death in 1947. His brother, Jang Taek-sang, served as the police chief under the U.S. military administration and then was made the first foreign minister of the Republic of Korea.
The stories of Kim and Jang are two examples in “99 Japanese Collaborators,” published by Dolbaege. The book iterates the records of the people who collaborated with Japan during the occupation yet remained prominent after independence. There are many more than these 99 collaborators who deserved criticism. Considering the hypocrisies, it is only natural to demand clarification of the past.
In “Mother and a Frog,” Kim Seong-dong wrote bitterly about his father, who was a communist. “Why did he become a Red when everyone else spits on the communists? Why did he make his only son so crestfallen like unstarched linen pants?”
The Uri Party wants to expand investigations into Japanese collaborators. In doing so, the politicians should be careful not to give their descendants undeserved difficulties.


by Ahn Sung-kyoo

The writer is a deputy editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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