Friday, March 3, 2017

Dispatch investigation on the Kang Dong Won controversy

[Dispatch = Kim Su-ji, Kim Ji-ho, Yangji Hyun Reporters] 

In 2007, Kang Dong Won said in an interview that his great-grandfather was 'art'.

"My great-grandfather is also a work of art. His name was Mr Lee Jong Nam, he was the President of the Daedong Enterprise, and he had a gold mine. "(Chosun Ilbo Interview)

It's 2017 now and Kang Dongwon is having his great-grandfather "deleted". He is in the midst of erasing posts related to his great grandfather as "defamation" became an issue. 

Ten years have passed. Nothing has changed. The name of the great-grandfather of Gang Dong-won is Lee Jong-man. He did mining business during the Japanese colonial period. He is also called the 'King of gold mining'.

Ten years have passed. However, Kang Dong Won's attitude changed. He no longer mentions his great-grandfather. The object of  his 'respect' in the past has now been changed to the object of 'silence' after 10 years.

Lee Jong - man was last recorded in the pro - Japanese dictionary in 2009.

'Dispatch' covered the controversy of Kang Dong Won pro-Japanese descendants. Dispatch found the reason as to why netizen are angry with Lee Jong Nam and disappointed with Kang Dong Won's "attitude".

First, we inquired to the National Institute of Ethnic Studies, which published the pro-Japanese dictionaries. We interviewed the editorial chief Lee Yong Chang. We also checked the records of pro Japanese. We also read the memoirs of Lee Jong-man's daughter, Lee Nam-soon.

Then we summarized the contents by form of question & dispatch (Q & D).

Q1: How did the controversy of Kang Dong Won being a descendant of a Pro-Japanese originate?

D: Korea movie portal site "Max Movie" summarized the descendants of the independance fighters in commemoration of Korea's independance Movement Day (March 1st). Kang Dong Won was classified as a descendant of the pro-Japanese.

"Kang Dong Won's great grand father, Lee Jong Man, was registered in the Pro-Japanese dictionary as a first class Pro-Japanese. He funded the creation and maintenance of the comfort women. In return, he gained mining rights and accumulated wealth. He provided financial aid for the Japanese War" (This is what Max Movie wrote)

Q2: Kang Dong Won has requested the removal of the related posts. His stance on it is that it's defamation of his character.

D: Kang Dong Won does not express any stance on the article. Instead, they quietly removed the related posts. That's why there is the possibility of defamation.

This is the part that is irking the netizen. "You should not be asking to remove the current post, instead, the first thing to do is to explain the (2007) interview. Do not try to cover the whole sky with the palm of your hand."

Q3: First of all, there is need for us to learn about Lee Jong Man (1885-1977).

D: Lee Jong Man was called "King of Gold Mine" during the Japanese colonial period. Gold mining, mining, education etc, allowed him to accumulate wealth. After liberation, he volunteered, he served as deputy of the Supreme People's Assembly for the first and second periods. He was buried in the Mausoleum of North Korea patriotism. [Korea at this point in time is still united, there was no territorial distinction between South and North]

Q4: Why is he included in the Pro-Japanese dictionary?

D: In 2005, the National Institute of Ethnic Studies included Lee Jong Man in the list of the first class pro-Japanese people in the pro-Japanese dictionary. Since then, there were continuous investigations on whether the list was accurate or not and the list was finalised in 2009.

"The investigation was based on several sources and literature works. Lee Jong Nam's pro Japanese acts were revealed in several areas. On the other hand, his participation in independant movement activities were not found. In the end, his name was finalised in the list in 2009. (Lee Yong Chang, Editor in Chief)

Q: I am curious about the specific examples of his pro-Japanese activities.

D: From the mid 1930s onwards, Lee Jong Man sent exquisite war items to the Japanese troups. He carried out activities under a prominent pro-Japanese organization. He contributed to the war and also donated monetary contributions to the Japanese army.

Q5: Does that mean he donated money to finance the Japanese army?

D: When the Second Sino-Japanese war broke out in July 1937, he deposited 1000won (100 million won equivalent at the time) under the "Northern Supreme Party". In July 1939 he donated 1000won to the 위문대

> Chosun Ilbo edition of 1937.7.21, on page 2 (it was recorded that) Lee Jong Man, president of Daedong Entreprise visited the Chosun headquarters of the Patricotic Women's Assosiation (pro- Japanese group) and deposited 1000won in gold as souvenir under the name of the (Japanese) emperor's army.

> Daily Newspaper edition of 1939.7.6 on page 2: It is regrettable that there was a reduction of the 위문대 sent to Japanese soldiers, and Mr Lee Jong Man donated 1000won in cash to the military patriotic department.

Q6: What about the 위문대?  Netizen are interpreting it as a support of comfort women

D: 위문대 are not "Comfort women". The criticism that Lee Jong Man supported the "comfort women fund" is a misinterpretation. The following is an explanation of Lee Yong Chan

위문대 meant "bags to put goods in". It can be said that it is a care package passed to the soldiers who participated in the war. Of course the purpose of the war is to perform well for the king.
According to the 'Daily Shinbo', The Japanese Army Headquarters purchased 3,600 canned goods at 1,000 won, donated by Lee.

Q7: How long has he been in a pro-Japanese organization?

① In April 1939, he became a member of the 'Chosun Investment Council'. It's an organization created by the Japanese Governor General of Korea for the purpose of wartime mobilization. And it strengthened restrictions on the use of gold.

② In November of the same year, he was appointed as a council member of the 'Chosun Judo Association'. It is an organization where the governor-general has mobilized pro-Japanese people. People entitled to the membership are "adults who are way past their legal age and are citizen who agree with the purpose of the meeting."

③ In 1940, he joined a pro-Japanese organization called '대화숙' (Yamato Juko) It was operated with the intention of strengthening the ethnic eradication policy and leading the people in following the colonialist ideology.

④ In September 1941, he became a promoter of the 조선임전보국 (organisation formed to support the Asia Pacific War) In the following October, he became the director of the organisation. 

Q8: Are these activities the basis for him to be listed in the pro-Japanese dictionary.?

D: According to the National Research Institute, people who join a pro-Japanese organization are not defined as "pro-Japanese". It depends to what extent did you participate and what purpose you worked for.

We do not describe all promoters as pro - Japanese. In the case of the Provincial Security Bureau (by region), hundreds of people are entering as promoters. Lee Jong Man was a director of the central organization (headquarters) of nationwide organizations.

Q9. I heard that the pro-Japanese media activities are also a problem.

D: On January 1, 1939, Lee Jong Man participated in the advertisement of 'New Year Congratulation Concert". to praise the triumph of the Japanese Empire.

In July 1940, he wrote an encouraging article in the magazine "Samcheonri" about volunteers. He urged the Koreans to 'fight for the Emperor on the battlefield'.

"I highly appreciate the participation of Joseon youth in the upbringing of the construction of a new order in Asia. In this holy business, there is no way to thank our Korean adolescents for their generosity and hope for volunteers.조선 청소년 제군은 혈과 한과 애의 인이 되라"(Samcheonri. By Lee Jong Man)

Q10. The family position is the opposite. 

D: Lee Jong-man's daughter, Nam-Soon, published "The Memoirs of the Lee Nam Soon, the daughter of the beautiful rich Lee Jong-man, who went to the North" (Published in 2010)

Lee Nam-soon said, "I do not think the pro-Japanese dictionary is a fair assessment of my father." She insisted that her father did his best to realize the welfare of peasants, miners and workers.

Q11. According to Lee Nam Soon 's book, what is the amount of social contribution of Lee Jong - man?

D: The social return that Lee's family claims is enormous. For example, the Yeongpyeong gold mine was sold for 1.55 million won. Of those he gave 500,000 won to farmers.

After that, he returned 800,000 won to the community. Lee Nam-Soon said, "My father left only 1 ~ 20,000 won for his family." He converted 1,000 won at the time to about 100 million won.

Q12. The National Research Institute did not take this social action into consideration.

D: The National Research Institute of Korea also recognized the part related to the social return of Lee Jong Man. But there were no acts of independence that would offset pro-Japanese behavior. The following is a description of editor in chief Lee Yong Chang.

"Family witnesses and memoirs are not adopted as primary feeds. There must be objective evidence. I also looked at the social work part of Lee Jong Man. However, I could not find any independent activities that could offset the pro-Japanese ones."

Q13. What about Soongsil school and Daedong Gong Jeon (school in North Korea), and other educational projects?

D: The National Research Institute for Human Rights examined the timing, continuity, and relevance of the social welfare return projects. In the case of Lee Jong Man, he was consistently pro - Japanese from July 1937 to October 1941.

"It is not necessarily independentists or patriots that established schools in the Japanese colonial period. On the contrary, it can be said that the educational policy was promoted in the Chosun Governor-General's Office. There is a need for an association between educational programs and independence movements. "

Q14. How do the family of Lee Jongman view this?

D: In her book, Lee Nam Soon pleaded, "Lee Jong Man had a debt of 8 million won in 1942," she said. (Book 321P)

In June 2008, Dr. Cho Ik Jong told "Monthly Chosun", "To manage a company, we had to adjust ourselves to the power in place" He said, "Is Lee Jong-man not going to cooperate with Japan?"

Q15: Could a businessman who chose to run his business be excused?

D: Of course, it can be a matter of judgment that an entrepreneur's dedication is "voluntary "or "mandatory" . But how can you tell Korean youth to "lay down their lives for the Emperor"?

Cooperating with the regime for their own benefit. To pay off debt, to do business ... . That is why it is an inhumane act if you have supported war in the backseat. On the contrary, the independents gave up any profit.

Q16. Back to Kang Dong Won again. Is the criticism right now justified?

D: First, there is no paternity system (being disadvantaged/punished because of another person's crime). We can not criticize Kang Dong-won because Lee Jong-man was a pro-Japanese. There is no reason to be criticized. This is because Kang Dong Won is not guilty.

However, there is something regrettable about the attitude of Kang Dong Won. For example, 'request to delete' is not a means to erase the past. If the post disappears does that mean the issue will? His erroneous response is fueling controversy. (KDW has made no comment so far about this issue, only YG's PR Team released a statement about the requests for removal)

Q17. What kind of attitude should the pro-Japanese descendants have?

In case of Lee Jong Man, it's been twisted a bit. First of all, pro japanese are not divided into ranks, there is no such a thing as 1st grade pro japanese. Lee Jong Man did not support comfort women, he donated the 위문대  fees.

"Pro Japanese descendant" should not be meant as an insult. Some people reflect on the mistakes of the past. The problem is to not acknowledge pro-Japanese and adopt an attitude that denies even the historical fact. It is not meant to be hidden.


(Whatever is in italics in the article is my own addition)

I have also gathered some information from various blogs:

- The Kang Dong Won interview is from 2007, his great grandfather was established as a pro Japanese in the dictionary until 2009.

- Lee Jong Man returned his properties to the community then left for the North

- Although his family was left with something, Kang Dong Won did not benefit from it. He didn't have a wealthy life as a child, his family was financially struggling. He mentioned it before in his interviews.

- Kang Dong Won neither benefited from the wealth of his ancestors nor did he ever say he was proud of his pro-Japanese behavior.

- The issue here is the defamation part not sitting well with netizen who viewed it as an attempt to cancel history instead of "reflecting on the past".

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