Korean Declaration of Independence

(1919)

On March 1, 1919, at Pagoda Park in Seoul, Korea, a student nationalist read aloud to the crowd the Korean Declaration of Independence, giving rise to the nationwide March First Movement. In response to the unjust colonization of Korea by Japan in 1910, the Korean Declaration of Independence proclaimed to the world that Korea had the right to exist as a free and independent nation. Among the thirty-three signers were sixteen Protestant Christians, fifteen leaders of Chondogyo (also called Cheondoism, the “religion of the Heavenly Way”), and two Buddhists. The Chondogyo leaders Son Byonghui, O Sechang, Kwon Dongjin, and Choe Rin were most influential in producing the Declaration. They quietly arranged for Choe Nam-seon, a pioneering poet and publisher-scholar, to draft it, and they collaboratively reached a consensus on its moderate tone and content, espousing the ideals of peace, humanity, and freedom. They then clandestinely printed Korean Declaration of Independence and...

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King Kojong (Library of Congress)

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