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Lee Bong-chang (1900~1932)A highly principled fighter of the national independence movement, he graduated from Yongsan Munchang General School. He went to Shanghai in 1931 to start out as a leader of the national independence movement. Recruited by Mr. Kim Ku as a member of the Korean Patriotic Society, he was the one who carried out the plan to assassinate the Hirohito. On January 8, 1932, when the Japanese emperor Hirohito was on his way back after a military parade at the Yoyoki Army Base, he threw a hand grenade at the Sakurata gate. The first hit the wrong carriage, but though the second was on target it was unfortunately a dud. Lee failed and was arrested on the spot.
He was executed on October 1932 at Ichigaya Prison. But his rise against the Japanese Empire lit up the nationwide independence movement. The Chinese Nationalist government organ reported, ‘Korean independence movement leader Lee Bongchang’s attempt to assassinate the Japanese Emperor unfortunately ended in failure’.
This strained the relationship between Japan and China and finally ignited the Shanghai Incident. His body is enshrined in the Three Righteous Men’s Grave inside Park Hyo-chang. (His birthplace is located at 118-1, Hyochang-dong).
Yun Bong-gil (1908~1932)
A patriot and a martyr, Yun Bong-gil was engaged in the reconstruction of rural communities, including campaigning for rural community enlightenment, rural community reconstruction and book-reading in 1926. Exiled to Manchuria in 1930, he went to Shanghai in 1931 to meet Kim Ku, the leader of the Korean Provisional Government, and participated in the national independence movement.
Joining the Korean Patriots Organization on April 26, 1932, Yun threw a bomb at the ceremonial place for the birthday of the Japanese Emperor, whereby no Chinese are allowed to attend, to kill Japanese soldiers, including the Commander of Japanese Forces in Shanghai. Yun was arrested at the site and taken to Japan to be executed by firing squad on December 19, 1932.
The Chinese in Shanghai were deeply appreciative of Yun’s heroic act and all ethnic Koreans in Shanghai were given free meals for a month.
His body was buried in the tomb at Hyochang Park for the three patriots. The epitaph for the tomb reads, ‘Here sleeps three martyrs who sacrificed their young lives for the national liberation. Their name, fidelity and spirit dedicated to the altar of the national independence will remain alive forever in every heart of Korean people.’
Tensions in Shanghai had begun after Japanese residents took umbrage at a Chinese newspaper article, on January 9, decrying the failure of the assassination attempt on the Showa emperor. Nine days later army Major Tanaka Ryukichi, hoping to divert foreign attention from the army's operations in northern Manchuria, instigated an attack by a Chinese mob on a group of Japanese Nichiren priests. The Imperial Navy found this incident a tempting chance to demonstrate its prowess to the army. The Shanghai fleet was quickly reinforced and on January 28, 1932, marines under Rear Adm. Shiozawa Koichi went ashore and that night challenged China's Nineteenth Route Army--a 33,500-man force stationed in the vicinity of the International Settlement, which ran along the waterfront. In the ensuing battle the Chinese gave the Japanese marines a good thrashing. Unable to retrieve the situation despite reinforcements from the fleet, the navy had to call on the army for help. But the Chinese army still held firm and again inflicted heavy losses. The high command in Tokyo then organized a full-fledged Shanghai Expeditionary Force under General Shirakawa and reinforced it with two full divisions. Intense fighting ensued; the Chinese finally fell back, and Japan was able to announce a face-saving cease-fire, followed by an armistice, negotiated with British participation on May 5, 1932, which also ended the Chinese boycott.
The Shanghai Incident should have awakened Hirohito to the recklessness and aggressiveness of his senior admirals--the very officers he and the court group regarded as sophisticated, cosmopolitan men of the world. Driven by service rivalry, they had deliberately sought a confrontation with Chinese forces in the heartland of China, knowing that problems with the United States and Britain were sure to result. Equally important, this incident was an unlearned lesson for both military services. Neither army nor navy drew any new conclusions from the heavy losses they incurred in this first large battle with a modern Chinese army.
Van wrote:I believe I've seen a grave on Kanazawa city's Notayama cemetry with the kanji 尹 for surname and some inscribtions about a korean independance activist. Unfortunately I don't remember the latter two kanji of the name and the story written there. Could it be Yoon Bong Gil?
Peter H wrote:This was called the Toranomon Incident and lead to the resignation of PM Yamamoto and the national police chief.
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