Kin of independence activists get citizenship

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Kin of independence activists get citizenship

The Ministry of Justice on Wednesday gave Korean citizenship to 39 descendants of 19 independence activists who fought against Japanese colonial rule during the early 20th century two days before the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement.

A citizenship ceremony was held at the ministry headquarters in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi.

Among the recipients, 18 were from Russia, 13 from China, three from Uzbekistan, two from Turkmenistan, two from Kazakhstan and one from Cuba.

Ministry data indicates that 1,157 descendants of independence activists have received Korean citizenship since 2006, when the government first began conferring the honor.

In a press release Wednesday, the ministry said that through the latest conferment, the government hoped to “reward the noble sacrifice” of Korea’s independence activists in celebration of the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement and the establishment of the provisional government in Shanghai.

Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said Wednesday during the citizenship ceremony that the sacrifice and devotion of Korea’s martyrs is what led to the country’s current development and prosperity. Park vowed to identify additional independence fighters who sacrificed for the country and help their descendants receive Korean citizenship “so they can pursue a more stable life.”

Tsoi Valentin, who heads an association of the descendants of Korean independence activists in Russia, said he was proud to have finally become a Korean citizen thanks to his grandfather, who led armed independence movements in Russia and China before he was arrested by Japanese imperial soldiers and killed in April 1920.

On another occasion marking the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement, 74 sets of remains of Korean laborers who were forced to work in Japan during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea are expected to arrive this afternoon at Incheon International Airport.

The Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, a Seoul-based pro-unification civic group led by Kim Hong-gul, the youngest son of former President Kim Dae-jung, announced last week that the remains were excavated in a joint project that both Koreas worked on.

Kim said it was the first time both Koreas worked hand-in-hand to excavate the remains of forced laborers and stressed that they would continuously pursue the project in the future. Most of the remains are those of men, though some are also those of women.

Kim said there was one separate set of remains thought to have come from a person who was recruited from present-day North Korea, but that Pyongyang officials had to first check whether the deceased person has any relatives in the North, which is why the remains won’t be flown into the South this week.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Kim Koo Museum & Library in Yongsan District, central Seoul, before the remains will be laid to rest at Seonunjeong Temple on Jeju Island on Saturday morning.

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