‘Day of humiliation’ commemorated

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‘Day of humiliation’ commemorated

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Members of a girls’ choir wave national flags yesterday at the commemoration of the centennial anniversary of Japan’s colonization of Korea. The Korean Liberation Association hosted the event in central Seoul. [YONHAP]

Korea marked the 100th anniversary of Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula yesterday with a commemoration ceremony, the unveiling of a stone marker at the site where the annexation treaty was signed, and a silent march by scholars from the two countries.

“August 29 is the day of humiliation when Imperial Japan seized our national sovereignty 100 years ago and started suppressing our people like we were slaves,” said Kim Young-il, head of the Korean Liberation Association, which represents some 6,600 independence fighters from the time of the 1910-45 colonial rule.

“We organized this rally ... to remember this day 100 years ago and not to repeat the wrongs of history,” Kim told a ceremony at Seoul’s Tapgol Park marking the effectuation of the 1910 annexation treaty.

Japan had Korea sign the annexation treaty on Aug. 22, 1910, and it took effect a week later.

About 1,000 people attended the ceremony in central Seoul. The park where Korea’s 1919 nationwide uprising, known as the March 1st Independence Movement, started.

Japan’s harsh colonial rule left deep scars on Koreans. Koreans were banned from using their own language at schools and forced to adopt Japanese names. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were also mobilized as forced laborers and sex slaves.

Disputes linked to colonial rule, such as Japan’s territorial claims over Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and Tokyo’s attempts to gloss over its imperialist past, have been stumbling blocks in relations between the two neighbors.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Naoto Kan offered Japan’s latest apology for the colonial rule, expressing “deep remorse” and a “heartfelt apology,” and acknowledging for the first time the coercive nature of the colonization, though Tokyo still stopped short of admitting to the illegality of the annexation.

Korea has called the apology “a step forward” and urged Japan to show its remorse through action.

Also yesterday, a coalition of some 117 civic groups from Korea and Japan held a ceremony to unveil a stone marker at the former residence of Japan’s colonial-era resident-general at the foot of Mount Namsan in central Seoul, where the annexation treaty was signed.

About 20 scholars from Korea and Japan also held a silent march from Seoul’s Deoksu Royal Palace to Mount Namsan. Yonhap


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