Veterans Ministry considers revoking honors from 20 Independence Patriots

Posted on : 2010-10-08 13:39 KST Modified on : 2010-10-08 13:39 KST
The individuals appear in the “Encyclopedia of Pro-Japanese Figures”
 November 2009. (Photo by Kim Myoung-jin)
November 2009. (Photo by Kim Myoung-jin)

By Ko Na-mu


A Democratic Party Lawmaker confirmed Thursday that the Ministry of Patriots’ and Veterans’ Affairs (MPVA) received supporting documents from the surviving family members of 16 Independence Patriots whose names were listed in the “Encyclopedia of Pro-Japanese Figures.” These individuals included Hwangsung Newspaper Editor in Chief Chang Chi-yon. MPVA is now considering whether to revoke their honor.

DP Lawmaker Lee Sung-nam, a member of the National Assembly’s National Policy Committee, said Thursday that the MPVA “requested the submission of supporting materials between Feb. 8 and May 10 of this year from the 19 people whose whereabouts could be ascertained among surviving family of the 20 Independence Patriots listed in the ‘Encyclopedia of Pro-Japanese Figures.’” Lee added that MPVA received documents from 16 surviving family members and is currently reviewing them.

During a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh on Tuesday, MPVA’s Patriots Entitlement Division said, “We began the examination after the controversy over possible Japanese collaboration by certain Independence Patriots that erupted following the publication of the ‘Encyclopedia of Pro-Japanese Figures.’”

The 16 surviving family members, including relatives of Chang Chi-yon and South Korea’s first Home Minister Yun Chi-yong, submitted supporting materials to the MPVA by May attesting that the “conferment of Independence Patriot status is legitimate.”

However, four surviving family members did not submit supporting materials. These individuals included relatives of former Vice President and Dong-A Ilbo founder Kim Seong-su, March 1 Independence Movement participant Rev. Choe Ji-hwa, and independence activists Lee Hang-bal and Yun Ik-seon.

In the materials submitted to Lee, the MPVA indicated that it intends to hold a meeting of its review committee following its examination of the materials, and that if grounds redeemed sufficient it plans to request that the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) withdraw recognition for certain Independence Patriots within the year.

The procedure for divesting an Independence Patriot of his or her status begins with the presentation of supporting materials by surviving family members. Following this, the review committee conducts a review and decides whether to withdraw the honor, then notifies MOPAS of those whose recognition has been withdrawn, a decision by the Cabinet, and approval by the president.

Reviews are also conducted for those whose surviving family members do not submit materials on the basis of data such as historical records. In December 1996, the MPVA withdrew recognition for five Independence Patriots, including Rev. Park Yeon-seo for having given a speech encouraging participating in the conscription system.

The Encyclopedia of Pro-Japanese Figures, published in November 2009, is a record of collaborationist acts by 4,389 people during the Japanese occupation. The names of 20 Independence Patriots are included in the book, which was compiled by the Institute for Research in Collaboration Activities (IRCA) under the leadership of Director Yim Hun-yeong. The Society for Efforts to Commemorate “Wiam” Chang Chi-yon filed for an injunction prohibiting publication against the IRCA immediately after the book was put out, demanding that they delete Chang’s name from the text. The society lost both of the first trials, and the case is currently in its final appeal.

IRCA Secretary General Bang Hak-jin called the MPVA’s actions “a significant measure this year, as we mark 100 years since the great national shame.”

“Five individuals also had their honors revoked during the Kim Young-sam administration, and since precise data were presented this time, there is no reason for hesitation,” Bang added.


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