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Korean Americans' View of National Humiliation Day and Its Change During the Period of Japanese Forced Occupation of Korea

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2010, (100), pp.707-747
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Han, Cheol-Ho 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

At the time of yearly National Humiliation Day, Korean Americans criticized Japanese occupation of Korea and proposed new policies for national independence. Thus the study of Korean Americans' understanding of National Humiliation Day will provide important clues for the study on the causes of the forced annexation of Korea by Japan and the analysis of the independence movement conducted by overseas Koreans including Korean Americans. This article analyzes the activities of Korean Americans and their cognition on the National Humiliation Day by referring to The New Korea, which was published by the Korean National Association during the period of Japanese forced occupation. After the annexation, Korean Americans declared spiritual independence and decided to arouse hostility toward Japan by observing the National Humiliation Day on August 29th until the expulsion of Japanese imperialism. And they urged the reflection of Korean nation beyond the condemnation of Japanese annexation of Korea. They pointed out the incompetence of upper ruling group as the fundamental cause for the national humiliation and urged that each of the Korean nation should play his proper role, increase ability and arouse patriotism. On the National Humiliation Day after the March First Movement of 1919, the main argument was pointed at the accomplishment of national independence by succeeding to the spirit of March First Movement or active support for the Korean Provisional Government. When the actual contents of the Taft-Katsura Agreement was known around the National Humiliation Day in 1924, they urged the increase of domestic capability without relying on foreign powers such as the United States. In 1925, reflecting the internal division in the Korean Provisional Government, there was a reflection on the failure to make a united revolutionary organization. There was also a new proposal for a struggle for national liberation with new awakening and scientific method by an unknown hero. When the Sino-Japanese War of 1937 occurred, the overseas Korean organizations made a commemorative announcement on national humiliation. They urged instant participation in the Chinese anti-Japanese war by taking the war as an opportunity for achieving national liberation with a united force. Thereafter, expecting the Japan's defeat, there appeared a view that urged support for Korean Provisional Government and Korean Restoration Army for achieving national liberation cooperatively. The Korean Americans were expected to support the independence struggle by providing the military expenditure as rear service area. When Japan's defeat was expected and the chance of national liberation was growing after the Korean Provisional Government declared war against Japan in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941, the United Korean Committee in America conducted flag-hoisting ceremonies in several cities in the United States for the purpose of urging the recognition of the Korean Provisional Government by allied forces. Especially in Los Angeles, Korean independence was recognized symbolically as the national flag was hoisted at the city hall with both the Koreans and Americans watching it. Thus the National Humiliation Day was not the day of humiliation any more. It was now recognized as the Hope Day. There was even a voice for celebrating the day as a national holiday and the Korean Americans' expectation of independence heightened. When Japan's defeat seemed to become a reality, there appeared even the view that suggested the means and forms for the restoration of national sovereignty in preparation for national independence on the National Humiliation Day. Especially what draws our attention is the view that pointed out the problems in political thought and provisional government. The view suggested that even though the world approve Korea's freedom and independence, national humiliation would come again if we fail to unite with our own political thought. It also raised questions on the role played by the Korean Provisional Government which would complete the independence movement as a supreme organization and government. Thus it argued that Korean Americans had to take united and allied actions to accomplish the great national project and to solve impending problems and it also urged the establishment of a central organization, which could provide the central causes and doctrines for various organizations. This view was very suggestive as the worries became reality after the liberation.

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