[Outlook] The spirit of independence

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[Outlook] The spirit of independence

A caged skylark always misses the blue sky, green forest and summer barley fields, and dreams of flying freely over vast open spaces.

When we Koreans were caged by Japan’s colonial rule, our patriotic forefathers established the Korean Provisional Government and dreamed of the liberation and independence of our land.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Provisional Government.

April was an important and hopeful month for us because it was when the Korean Provisional Government was established in Shanghai, China, after we lost our sovereignty.

When Imperial Japan forcibly took our country, casting Koreans into agony, many of our forefathers waged an independence movement against Japan, pursuing a series of strategies inside and outside the country with the aim of restoring our sovereignty.

Inspired by the March 1 Independence Movement, they founded the provisional government in order to carry out the campaign in a more organized and effective fashion.

The provisional government served as a pillar of support for the spirit of Koreans, as well as the center of the independence movement.

Patriots Lee Bong-chang and Yoon Bong-gil’s heroic deeds were special missions orchestrated by the provisional government. Their acts scared the Japanese imperialists, who had been confident until then, and galvanized the Korean independence movement, which had been relatively inactive for a while.

But the provisional government had to go through hardship from the time it was founded until the country was liberated due to atrocities committed by Japan.

The provisional government often had to uproot its headquarters because of Japanese oppression. It was at various times based in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Zhenjiang, Changsha, Guangzhou, Liuzhou, Qijiang and Chungking [Chongqing].

The provisional government upheld its legitimacy even though it constantly faced a hostile environment and numerous difficulties. It fought for almost 27 years, until the collapse of Imperial Japan.

The provisional government’s lofty spirit is well reflected in the Constitution of modern-day Korea. Its preamble placed a high value on the status of the provisional government, stating: “The Republic of Korea upholds the cause of the Government of the Provisional Republic of Korea, born of the Independence Movement of March 1, 1919.”

The Korean Provisional Government symbolizes the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea.

The provisional government used “Republic of Korea” as the name of the country, formed a democratic republic, established the Constitution and created an administration and a provisional legislature, opening a new era in the history of democratic constitutionalism in Korea.

By forming a liberation army and declaring war against Japan, the provisional government proudly announced that it was a member of the Allied Powers and prepared for its entry into the Korean Peninsula.

At the Cairo Conference in 1943, the provisional government got the leaders of the Allied Powers to promise the independence of Korea, a meaningful moment in world history.

In the early period of the last century, many nations in the world came under colonial rule and their people waged independence movements. The Koreans went farther, establishing a provisional government and conducting a wide range of different actions - from diplomatic efforts to fierce resistance against Japan’s aggression.

The foundation of the provisional government and its fight against Japan was the cornerstone of the liberation of our country.

After liberation, we achieved industrialization and democratization thanks to the sacrifices of our forefathers, despite political and social upheavals.

This year, many events are scheduled inside and outside the country to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the provisional government, and to celebrate the spirit with which they fought for liberation and independence.

Events will be held not only in Korea but also in Shanghai, where the provisional government was first established; in Chongqing, the last city where the provisional government was based; and Los Angeles in the United States.

The ashes of six independence movement activists will be brought home from the United States and many events will be held to celebrate the spirit of the nation and the power of Korea.

Today, we are experiencing one of the worst economic crises ever. Although we have gone through countless ups and downs in history, the problems we are facing now are no easy challenge.

We must once again think of the spirit of the provisional government in handling the difficulties of today.

Our forefathers united in a time of crisis. The sacrifice that they displayed in the past is the same spirit that we need today.


The writer is the minister of patriots and veterans affairs. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Yang
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