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Reminiscing about the Sublime History
[344호] 2014년 03월 05일 (수) Reporter Chung Sung-joon .
   
Korea under the Japanese occupation was extremely unstable and terrorizing; Koreans were discontent about the heavy restrictions as well as the inhumane way of taking control of independence move- ments. The Korean Inde- pendence Army Government was temporarily set up in China -Maritime province and Shanghai for instance- to stand against the Japanese and fight for independence but they felt that a proper government had to be established in order to build up a systematic independence movement. After thoughtful consideration, they came to a conclusion that a single unified government would create a synergy effect in gaining independence from Japan. There are three main reasons why Shanghai was nominated as the headquarters of the Provisional Government: geographical, political and diplomatic factors.
Taking a closer look at Shanghai’s geographical point of view, Shanghai was considered as one of the most flourishing international ports during the 20th century in East Asia, which allowed mainland Koreans and those temporarily staying overseas to interact and gather rather frequently despite tight surveillance of the Japanese. It was extremely convenient for compatriots and Koreans in Manchuria, Siberia and even America to hold meetings in Shanghai, which eventually became the heart of the Korean Provisional Government during the Japanese colonial rule.
Political factors were also taken into account. Before the Provisional Government in Shanghai was established, Koreans were extremely concerned about the power of the Japanese police and their unnecessary interference as well as monitoring. Fortunately, there were numerous Western nations -including England, France, and America- who supported independence movements of smaller, weaker countries. This meant that the safety of Koreans involved in the independence movements was ensured by Western powers, especially France, as long as they maintained and sustained their diplomatic power in Shanghai. Hence because foreign conce- ssions existed in Shanghai, Provisional Government could exist there. The Japanese army was not allowed to place its root down even temporarily.
The final factor lies in the diplomatic influence in Shanghai. When the Provisional Government was first built, one of their primary goals was to spread words regarding their existence around the world to increase the level of awareness regarding inde- pendence. At that time, there were a large number of diplomats and international press agencies centered in Shanghai. This provided an ultimate advantage for the Provisional Government to carry out propaganda activities, allowing them to accelerate more organized and effective independence movements.
With the basis of democracy, the unified Provisional Government in Shanghai continued to do all means necessary to liberate Korea from Japan until 1945 when Japan announced its unconditional surrender that freed all Japanese colonies. The headquarters of the Provisional Government in Shanghai, one of the most attractive tourist sites today, is still intact and open to all the general public. Both the effort and fighting spirit of the independence-fighters can be felt deep down in our hearts.
Special thanks to Professor Jung Hyoo Ko (HSS)
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