“With the hands of Korean compatriots in Japan, the long-awaited monument to the Korean victims of the Nagasaki atomic bomb has finally been erected.”
Kang Seong-chun, head of the Nagasaki Prefectural Headquarters of the Korean People’s Corps in Japan, who led the erection of the monument to the Korean victims, answered as follows when asked about his impressions ahead of the unveiling of the memorial at a press conference for Korean media Tokyo correspondents held at Mindan’s Nagasaki headquarters.
At 10:40 am on the 6th, the ‘Unveiling Ceremony of the Memorial to Korean Atomic Bomb Victims’ will be held at the Peace Park in Nagasaki City, attended by officials from both Korea and Japan, including Korean Ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il.
On August 9, 1945, at the end of the Pacific War, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki City, killing about 74,000 people.
Of these, thousands to 10,000 are estimated to be from the Korean Peninsula, which was a Japanese colony at the time.
The Korean Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Victims Memorial Monument was erected 76 years after the victims and 27 years after its construction.
Director Kang said, “In May 1994, Mindan Nagasaki Headquarters asked to provide a place to Nagasaki City for the erection of a memorial to the Korean victims, but the site was not provided due to the peace park redevelopment from 1994 to 1997.” It was pursued, but it was frustrated for various reasons.”
The erection of the memorial, which had hardly made any progress, began in earnest when the Korea Atomic Bomb Victims Association filed a petition for erection in Nagasaki City in March 2011, and in November the following year, the Korean Consulate General in Fukuoka requested the provision of a site for the erection of the memorial in the Peace Park.
In July 2013, the Building Committee was formed centered on Mindan Nagasaki Headquarters.
However, the city of Nagasaki did not give permission for the construction of the building as it raised issues with the inscriptions related to the forced mobilization of the Japanese imperialists, the historical background of the Korean atomic bomb victims, and the design of the monument.
Director Kang, who was the secretary general at the time of the founding of the committee, but has been the chairperson since 2016, said, “We did not see progress at first due to differences in culture and opinion in the shape of the monument and the contents of the inscription, but we persisted in consultations because we understood each other’s significance. It has been built over and over again,” he explained.
First of all, regarding the shape of the monument, the erection committee originally planned to make it 3.5m high, but in response to Nagasaki City’s opinion, it was lowered to 3m.
As the city authorities adhered to the position that ‘forced’ is not allowed in relation to the conscription, a compromise was reached with the expression ‘against one’s will’.
In the memorial notice, the background to the occurrence of the Korean atomic bomb victims was explained, saying, “At the end of the Pacific War, the number of cases of conscription and mobilization as workers, soldiers and military personnel against their will increased.”
Director Kang said that the memorial is finally coming to light, and that it is “deeply impressive” and that visitors to Nagasaki Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum can learn about the victims of the atomic bombing of Koreans.
The Korean memorial was located right in front of the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Currently, on one side of Nagasaki Peace Park, there is a ‘Korean Victims Memorial Monument’ built in 1979 led by a Japanese civic group and the Korean Federation of Korean Residents in Japan.
In Hiroshima City, another atomic bombing area, a memorial ceremony for Korean atomic bomb victims in 1970 was erected at the local Peace Memorial Park and a memorial ceremony is held every year on August 5, the day before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I couldn’t.
Director Kang said, “From now on, we plan to hold a memorial ceremony in front of the newly erected memorial on August 8, the day before the atomic bombing, every year.”
He added, “I believe that the erection of the memorial was possible thanks to the support of the Korean government and all Koreans and related people in Japan.”
(Photo = Yonhap News)