Remembering the independence struggle

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Remembering the independence struggle

The aspirations of a nation burst forth on March 1, 1919. But those fighting for independence knew they could not throw off the shackles of colonialism simply by staging peaceful demonstrations. They had to arm themselves and prepare for battle.

Military operations carried out by the army for national independence in the northwestern region of Manchuria - especially Hong Beom-do’s victory at Bongodong Battle - terrified the Japanese imperialists.

They mobilized some 20,000 troops to put down the independence fighters, who were threatening their colonial rule in Korea.

But the Koreans didn’t falter.

Instead, they continued their march toward their home country.

On Oct. 21, 1920, a battle took place near a wide-open area called Baekwunpyeong. Near here, a narrow path led to a valley surrounded by tall cliffs in the mountainous forest on the Chinese side of Mount Paektu.

The independence fighters hid in the hills and on the cliffs, clinging to their guns, which belonged to the Korean Military and Political Office.

When the Japanese troops entered the valley, they opened fire.

For seven straight days the united forces of the independence army fought against the Japanese troops. There were over 10 battles at places such as Wantugu, Eolangcheon and Gosoha.

The Independent, an organ of the provisional government, reported that 600 independence army soldiers led by Kim Jwa-jin and 300 fighters led by Hong Beom-do killed around 1,200 troops.

How did the independence army achieve such a sweeping victory over the so-called “invincible imperial army” of Japan, which had superiority in fire power and military force, at the Chongsan-ri Battle?

On Feb. 25, 1921, The Independent reported, “Alas, after three days of battles, we ran out of provisions and had to enrich ourselves with potatoes. And then we marched, by day and by night, 600 kilometers [373 miles] through rugged forest, but we did not lose a bit of strength. After winning the battles, we marched for thousands of kilometers through the forest and snow-covered fields, and not a small number of soldiers suffered from frostbite. But no one complained because they all hoped for the independent future of the fatherland.”

The excellent military tactics and strategy of the leadership of the independence army, which exploited geographical features and, more than anything else, the invincible fighting spirit and willingness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s country, makes our hearts pound.

And while we honor those noble independence fighters, we wish to never relive those dire times.



The writer is the dean of the school of liberal arts at Kyung Hee University.

The aspirations of a nation burst forth on March 1, 1919. But those fighting for independence knew they could not throw off the shackles of colonialism simply by staging peaceful demonstrations. They had to arm themselves and prepare for battle.

Military operations carried out by the army for national independence in the northwestern region of Manchuria - especially Hong Beom-do’s victory at Bongodong Battle - terrified the Japanese imperialists.

They mobilized some 20,000 troops to put down the independence fighters, who were threatening their colonial rule in Korea.

But the Koreans didn’t falter.

Instead, they continued their march toward their home country.

On Oct. 21, 1920, a battle took place near a wide-open area called Baekwunpyeong. Near here, a narrow path led to a valley surrounded by tall cliffs in the mountainous forest on the Chinese side of Mount Paektu.

The independence fighters hid in the hills and on the cliffs, clinging to their guns, which belonged to the Korean Military and Political Office.

When the Japanese troops entered the valley, they opened fire.

For seven straight days the united forces of the independence army fought against the Japanese troops. There were over 10 battles at places such as Wantugu, Eolangcheon and Gosoha.

The Independent, an organ of the provisional government, reported that 600 independence army soldiers led by Kim Jwa-jin and 300 fighters led by Hong Beom-do killed around 1,200 troops.

How did the independence army achieve such a sweeping victory over the so-called “invincible imperial army” of Japan, which had superiority in fire power and military force, at the Chongsan-ri Battle?

On Feb. 25, 1921, The Independent reported, “Alas, after three days of battles, we ran out of provisions and had to enrich ourselves with potatoes. And then we marched, by day and by night, 600 kilometers [373 miles] through rugged forest, but we did not lose a bit of strength. After winning the battles, we marched for thousands of kilometers through the forest and snow-covered fields, and not a small number of soldiers suffered from frostbite. But no one complained because they all hoped for the independent future of the fatherland.”

The excellent military tactics and strategy of the leadership of the independence army, which exploited geographical features and, more than anything else, the invincible fighting spirit and willingness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s country, makes our hearts pound.

And while we honor those noble independence fighters, we wish to never relive those dire times.



The writer is the dean of the school of liberal arts at Kyung Hee University.

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