Commemorating 70th anniversary of Liberation Day, Gwangbok-jeolA woman is working in the field under the blazing sunlight. At the same time, a sound of reading Korean is coming out from her husband’s Sarang-bang, a room occupied only by men for study in a traditional Korean domestic setting. He is teaching students while holding on to his baby with one of his arms. In his free time, he taught his sisters and wife how to write Korean. Sometimes, he scolded his sisters whenever they wrote poorly, he was always patient with his wife. As if reciprocating for his love, every day, the woman prepares a lunch box for her husband, who always comes late and goes out early in the morning for his tireless work of educating local peasants. As Yun Ju Keyng (81’, chemistry) unraveled the story of her grandmother, Yun got lost in the memories of her grandmother. In 1923, after her grandfather threw a bomb at the Japanese imperialists gathered for Emperor Hirohito’s birthday, he was sentenced to death. As a brave soul and also a romantic spouse, Yun Bong-gil is widely admired among Koreans for his anti-imperialist struggle.
In recognition of her ancestors’ patriotic spirit, Yun was appointed as the 10th president of the Independence Hall of Korea in 2014.
“Day by day, I am realizing how meaningful it is to be the president of the Independence Hall of Korea,” Yun said. “Before inauguration, I was proud to work as a member of the hall. Now, as the president, I am realizing more of its importance with considerable responsibility.”
However as a descendent of a famous Korean patriot, she struggled with people’s expectations. Sometimes people’s expectation came to her as a great pressure.
“I used to want to live as any other person, Yun Ju Keyng myself, not a descendent of the Yun Bong-gil,” Yoon said. “It was too hard for me to cope with the strain from people’s expectation.”
Yun always had to endure the pressure from the people assuming her to be exemplary. Sometimes, then the burden was too much to bear, she would sometimes want to get away from it all. However, she reminisced those burdensome were a “beautiful confinement,” which enabled who she is today.
However, the heartache was not only hers but also her grandmother’s. As a wife of an independence activist, it was not easy for Yun’s grandmother to overcome her loneliness after her husband’s death. According to Yun, she was not willing to believe that her husband had passed away.
“When I asked her about grandfather, she did not really say anything,” Yun said. “Now I think of it, I assume she missed him a lot, not knowing how to deal with his loss.”
In the year of the 1988 Summer Olympics, Yun’s grandmother passed away. Even though she is gone, her grandmother’s pride to cherish the memory of the country’s one of the most celebrated independence fighters as her husband is ingrained in Yun’s heart.
Thanks to many brave Korean independent activists like her grandparents, Korea finally gained independence from Japan in August 15, 1945. This year, marks the 70th anniversary of this Liberation Day, Gwangbok-jeol in Korean.
For the celebration, the official slogan of the year was chosen as the “Great journey, stepping forward.” “Great journey” refers to the country’s marvelous development since the liberation and “Stepping forward” expresses the nation’s mission for unification of South and North Korea. In commemorating of the ancestor’s endeavors, the Independence Hall of Korea is now engaging in a massive compilation of lives and struggles of all the Korean patriots in modern history, which will be eventually published as a biographical dictionary.
“Through our compilation project, the Independence Hall of Korea is hoping to restore the historical trance of the independence activists,” Yun said. “We are expecting this project to be more accessible for many people. Furthermore, I wish this can be an inspiration for poems, novels, movies and art works.”
Beyond the already well-known patriots, there are still many other unknown activists who have not been appreciated for their dedication for independence of Korea. The hall is also working to collect more data about these unknown patriots so that public can know about their efforts.
“It is important not to forget that there are still many patriots whose lives still remain relatively unknown,” Yun said. “I think we need to consider their noble spirit, and their sacrifices for the nation.”
As the final remark, she left a message for university students who have the infinite potential. She emphasized the ability of telling the historical truth rationally to everyone regardless of the situation.
“I hope you should be able to correct when people argue historical facts about Dokdo Island and comfort women,” Yun said. “Being able to explain why Dokdo is our territory is a small starting point of protecting our pride and Korean spirit.”
저작권자 © Ewha Voice 무단전재 및 재배포 금지