SDHF Newsletter No.242 Korean Mysticism and anti-Japanese 5
Korean Mysticism and Anti-Japanese (Seirindo Co. Ltd.)
By Tajima Osamu
Series No.5: Chapter 4 Anti-Japanese Korea was made by Japan
June 10, 2019
The author presents the following stories concerning An Jung-geun and Queen Min, who are symbols of anti-Japanism in Korea.
An Jung-geun is today an anti-Japanese, Korean national hero, but at the time he assassinated Ito Hirobumi, he was not highly regarded in Korea. Ex Emperor Gojong stated, “The perpetrator is a wanderer, totally ignorant of the meaning of things.” Among the Korean intellectuals at the time, it was the majority’s view that “An committed a stupid crime, only to become the shame of the nation.” There were 10,000 mourners in Seoul and mourning was held in other parts of Korea as well.
In Japan, however there were some nationalists who respected An Jung-geun for various reasons. The author surmises that there has been a significant change in post-war Korea; from “An Jung-geun was respected by the Japanese people”, to “even the sinful Japanese could not help but recognize sound arguments made by An Jung-geun”, to “what An Jung-geun did must be considered just.”
Queen Min was a foolish woman who led Korea to ruin. Queen Min made light of Korean King Gojong, her husband, and made the country her own, emptying the treasury for the sole purpose of Min’s prosperity. Even in the post-war years, Queen Ming’s image has been such until 1970s. In a film titled Women at Jing Fu Palace (1971), Queen Ming was portrayed as a total pain in the neck, mercilessly harassing King Gojong’s concubine to her heart’s content while Queen Min’s adversary, Daewong-gun, was favorably depicted.
However, during the 80s and onward, Queen Min image dramatically changed, one in which Koreans praised her as a “proud and benevolent mother of the people” and as a “sad queen brutally killed by the Imperial Japan’s hungry wolves.” Of course, what is stated above is entirely contrary to the facts. Emperor Sung-jong, son of Queen Ming, was at the same place when she was killed, and saw that military training division commander Woo Beomseon was the perpetrator. The Emperor later sent assassins to Japan to kill Woo, who had was escaped there.
Image laundering of Queen Ming was initiated by a book written by Japanese novelist Tunoda Fusako. Choe Kye-ho, a visiting professor at Kaya University in Korea, wrote in his book Korea—Two Thousand Years’ History of Downfall (Shoden-sha, 2001):
“A foolish female Japanese writer once wrote a sympathetic book about Queen Min. However, Queen Min was an abhorrent woman, disrespectful to her father-in-law, utterly distressed the people and ruined the country, while emptying the treasury. We should know that such ignorance of true Korean history helped to distort the relationship between Japan and Korea.”
Questions are welcome.
MOTEKI Hiromichi, Acting Chairman
for KASE Hideaki, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact