Liberation Day commemorated at memorial China

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Liberation Day commemorated at memorial China

The Ahn Jung-geun Memorial Hall in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China, held its first Korean Liberation Day event yesterday to commemorate the holiday.

One of Korea’s most celebrated independence fighters, Ahn assassinated Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese resident-general of Korea, on Oct. 26, 1909, at the Harbin Railway Station in an effort to liberate the peninsula from Japanese colonial rule. Ahn was apprehended and later executed on March 26, 1910, at the age of 30.

The Heilongjiang Provincial Government sent one of its high officials to the event, the first honoring a Korean holiday on mainland China. More than 50 Koreans also flew to China to attend the ceremony.

The group included nine lawmakers, Rep. Sul Hoon, from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, who led the delegation, and ruling Saenuri Party reps. Kim Eul-dong, Ha Tae-keung, Lee No-keun, Yi Wan-young, Choi Bong-hong, Moon Dae-sung, Hwang In-ja and Park Seong-ho.

“Patriot Ahn is the symbol of anti-Japanese spirit [during the colonial era],” Sul said. “Holding a Liberation Day event to commemorate Ahn where he [killed Hirobumi Ito] means a lot.”

The group, comprised of the lawmakers and leaders, and officials from various fields, arrived in China on Tuesday and over four days toured historical sites there commemorating Korea’s patriotic martyrs before yesterday’s event.

President Park Geun-hye first proposed the idea of constructing a memorial hall when she requested that her counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping, “set up a monument for Ahn” last year during a Korea-China summit in Beijing. Korea had been requesting such a monument since 2006.

Xi not only placed a monument at the railway station but also remodeled the 200-square-meter (2,152-square-foot) memorial hall. The memorial’s entrance shows a clock face with its hands frozen at 9:30 a.m., the time of Ito’s assassination.

A plaque in Chinese marks the spot where the shooting took place on a platform of the Harbin Railway Station. The hall opened on Jan. 19, and commemorates Ahn’s life through exhibitions and displays of historical materials.

The Japanese government protested the memorial yesterday and earlier denounced Ahn as a “terrorist” when the hall first opened.

Previously, the only evidence of the event left at the railway station was the points that mark Ito and Ahn’s position and the direction of the shooting at the moment of the assassination.

Zhang Yimou, one of China’s most renowned film directors, announced in March that he was in talks to make a film about Ahn’s life and recently suggested that Korean actor Kwon Sang-woo take on the role of the legendary independence fighter.

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