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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 81

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Three Patriots

[The Tragic Split]

Pak Yong-man, Syngman Rhee, and An Ch'ang-ho were three leaders in the movement to free Korea from Japanese occupation. Though they fought for the same cause, each took a different approach to achieving this goal.

Pak Yong-man believed that only military force would end Japanese occupation. After being imprisoned in Korea for anti-Japanese activities, he moved to the United States in 1904 to continue his fight for Korean independence. By 1908, he had established a small military training camp in Nebraska. He was then hired as an editor of the Korean National Association (KNA) newspaper, so he relocated to Hawai'i in 1912. At 'A-huimanu, he built another military school, training up to three hundred soldiers at a time. Because Syngman Rhee opposed the school, it was closed in 1917, three years after it had opened. Pak then took his revolutionary activities to China, serving as an intelligence officer for the U.S. Siberian Expeditionary Forces. In 1928, the commander of the Korean Provisional Government Army accused Pak of spying for the Japanese and he was assassinated in Beijing.

Syngman Rhee had met Pak in 1903, while both were imprisoned in Korea, and the two had sworn allegiance to the independence movement. Opposed to a militant stance, Rhee sought to secure Korea's sovereignty through diplomacy and education. He came to the United States in 1905 to earn his doctorate from Princeton University, then moved to Hawai'i in 1913 to teach in the Chungang hagwon language school and work in the Methodist Church. During this time, he decided to open his own school, the Korean Girls' Seminary, to provide girls with an education. After the March 1, 1919, protest demonstration, Rhee helped establish the Korean Provisional Government and formed the Korean Commission in Washington, D.C., to serve as the diplomatic arm of the Provisional Government. Through this organization, he lobbied the League of Nations to recognize Korea as an independent country and raised funds to strengthen the independence movement in America. In 1948, the Republic of Korea was formed and Rhee was elected its first president. Two years later, the Korean War broke out and Rhee led the South through three years of civil conflict. In 1960, he resigned, and later he returned to Hawai'i, where he died.

An Ch'ang-ho worked toward what he called "self-renewal": strengthening Korean industry and education before committing to armed revolt. In 1907, two years after Korea became a Japanese protectorate, he formed the New People's Association (Sinminhoe) in Seoul. This underground society built over fourteen schools and several businesses, including a ceramics factory and a cigarette company. After Japanese authorities disbanded the society in 1911, An moved to California and led the KNA there. He was later elected president of the Central Headquarters, which governed all U.S. branches of the KNA. After March 1, 1919, he went to Shanghai to serve as an official of the Korean Provisional Government. In a 1932 incident involving a fellow patriot, the Japanese police in Shanghai cracked down on Korean independence leaders and arrested An. He spent four years in prison. In 1937 he was imprisoned again, but was released for health reasons. He died the following year.




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