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Portrait of a Troubled Korean Patriot: Yun Ch'i-ho's Views of the March First Independence Movement and World War II Hyung-chan Kim Introduction Few Koreans had more opportunity than Yun Ch'i-ho (1865-1945) to observe at close range the domestic political events as well as international affairs surrounding the Korean peninsula, as they unfolded between 1882 and 1945. Still fewer Koreans had greater opportunities than Yun Ch'i-ho to participate in the political process to influence the national and international events of his time. Be it fate, accident, or his birth into a prominent family that placed him in an historic role in the development of modern Korea, it is extremely difficult to deny him an eminent place in Korea's modern history. No study of modern Korean history, particularly after 1882—the year when Korea opened its doors to the United States, the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with Korea—may claim scholarly depth or breadth without delving into his role and the impact he had on Korea's domestic and international affairs. In spite of the importance of Yun and his place in Korea's modern history, however, research on his life and his contributions to the development of modern Korea has been less than adequate, for a number of reasons. First, Yun did not record much of his feelings or thoughts in writing available for public study, although there are a few journal articles, some editorials in The Independent, his letters, and some pamphlets of minor importance.1 Lack of material written by him is understandable in view of the times in which he lived and worked. While he served as a government official toward the end of the Chosön dynasty, he was too busy to write; and when he had time to write as a private citizen during the yun ch'i-ho77 Japanese colonial rule, the Japanese police put him under close surveillance . Probably because of his bitter experience with the Japanese authorities, who put him in prison on drummed-up charges of conspiracy to assassinate Governor-General Terauchi Masatake, he kept his feelings and thoughts to himself. These he expressed only in his private diary, written between 1883 and 1943. In English, with the exception of the entries for the first six years, which were written in Chinese and Korean, his diary spans a period of over sixty years and is indispensable for anyone studying Korea's modern history. Fortunately Yun's family has made arrangements with the Korean National History Compilation Committee to have it published, and his diary through the end of 1919 is now available to researchers as well as to the general public. I also have been fortunate enough to have obtained the as yet unpublished portion of Yun's diary, the last entry of which was penned on September 30, 1943, and to have been granted many hours of personal interviews with Yun's eldest son, Yun Yöng-sön, then 91 years of age, at his Seoul residence during the last three months of 1986.2 Second, research on Yun Ch'i-ho has also been hampered by his persona non grata status among Koreans due to his alleged collaboration with Japanese authorities. Even today he is considered a traitor to Korea's cause of independence, as he is known to have refused to support the March First independence movement of 1919. The list of charges against Yun for unpatriotic behavior during the harsh years of Japanese colonialism is long and rather protracted in the collective memory of Koreans. Historians have charged that Yun toured the country and made public speeches urging young Koreans to join the Japanese Army to fight against the Allied Nations during World War II. Whether or not Yun did anything to deserve these charges of treason is yet to be substantiated by historical research, still it is rather unfortunate that scholarship on modern Korean history is so ideologically influenced that little or no rational and dispassionate discussion of Yun Ch'i-ho and his place in modern Korean history has been made by scholars. Research on this topic has been avoided, lest the...


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