South Korea deletes history of late commander as relations with Japan grow

South Korea deletes history of late commander as relations with Japan grow

Gen. Paik Sun-yup was accused of being engaged in pro-Japanese activities during Tokyo's colonial rule

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA(AA) – The South Korean government said Monday it has deleted a state burial record describing a famous Korean War hero as a pro-Japanese figure for his role in Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The country's Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said it has decided to remove a phrase identifying Gen. Paik Sun-yup as a person who was accused of being engaged in pro-Japanese and anti-national activities in the late general's online burial record on the Daejeon National Cemetery's website, according to Seoul-based Yonhap News.

The move came amid growing relations between South Korea and Japan, the two core US allies against North Korea and China, in recent months.

The description had been in place since Paik's burial in 2020 at Daejeon cemetery, 139 kilometers (86 miles) south of Seoul.

The ministry said there was no legal basis to include the description unrelated to his merits as a war hero that had qualified him to be laid to rest at the cemetery.

A presidential committee put him on a list of pro-Japanese figures in 2009, citing his military service for Manchukuo, a puppet state for Imperial Japan, during Tokyo's colonial rule.

Paik served in the pro-Japan Gando Special Force under the Manchukuo Imperial Army from 1943 to 1945, which was tasked with suppressing anti-Japanese forces.

Paik had, time and again, denied the charge, claiming that he did not actually fight against Korean independence forces.

In February, Paik's family members submitted a petition to the ministry, calling the description defamation against the deceased and requesting its removal.

Veterans Minister Park Min-shik called Paik the "greatest hero," who made contributions for the country to overcome the 1950-53 Korean War, and vowed to prevent such incidents without legal basis from happening again.

Paik, who died on July 10, 2020, at the age of 99, was credited with leading key battles during the conflict and served as the fourth chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after the war.

Calling the ministry's decision “hasty,” a state-funded association of independence fighters and their descendants called for the reinstatement of the record, opining that such a removal should be made with a consensus from the public.

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