Saturday, June 25, 2016

South Korea 2016 - Heroes, National Independence Activists

ISSUE DATE: 1 June 2016
STAMP SIZE:37 x 25 mm
STAMP DESIGN: Shin Jaeyong

The Republic of Korea has become a country of freedom, peace, and prosperity because of countless heroes who gave their lives for the country’s independence. Among them are female activist Nam Ja-hyeon, who sacrificed herself for the cause of national independence, and scholar and activist Ju Si-gyeong, who endeavored to establish national identity through Hangul.

Korea Post is issuing “Heroes, National Independence Activists” commemorative stamps to ensure that these honorable independence activists are never forgotten. The stamps feature their images. The Nam Ja-hyeon stamp shows her memorial stone engraved with her quotation in the background, and the Ju Si-gyeong stamp contains the malmoi script from the collection of the National Hangul Museum.

Often referred to as the “female An Jung-geun,” or “the mother of the national independence army,” Nam Ja-hyeon (1872-1933) was a female military activist and patriot. She raised her son alone after her husband was killed in the Eulmi Incident, when she witnessed the March 1 independence movement. Upon realizing that fighting for national liberation against Japanese colonial rule was the only way to avenge her husband’s death, Nam moved to Manchuria at the age of 46, joined Korean independence group Seorogunjeongseo, and began leading the independence movement and an effort to enlighten women. She took part in many military operations including the assassination attempt against Saito Makoto, the Governor-General of Korea, and the rescue mission for Ilsong Kim Dongsam. She also pleaded for national liberation to the investigation delegation of the League of Nations by writing them a letter in her own blood. Nam was arrested in 1933 for her part in the failed attempt to assassinate Muto Nobuyoshi, the Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo. She was tortured severely and martyred later that year. 

Ju Si-gyeong (1876-1914) was a Hangul scholar and independence activist who dedicated himself to studying and teaching Hangul during the Japanese colonial period in order to build Korean national identity. After learning through modern science that advanced, powerful countries used their own languages, he began studying Korea’s own written and spoken language. Following his meeting with Dr. Soh Jaipil, the two founded Dongnip sinmun (The Independent), a paper printed solely in Hangul, in April of 1896. Ju also assisted Dr. Soh’s public education movement, and promoted the practice of correct Korean grammar and easy Korean writing to help further the modern national liberation movement. In addition, he organized the Gungmun Dongsikhoe (Society for the Standardization of Korean Writing) to lay the foundation for Hangul research and dissemination, and actively participated in Hyeopseonghoe (Mutual Friendship Society) and Dongnip Hyeophoe (Independence Club) to lead a campaign to restore national sovereignty. “Daehan gugeo munbeop,” a textbook for students, and “Gungmun chohak,” a Korean textbook for elementary students, are among the Hangul books he published and promoted in order to help educate the Korean public.

Stamp images and description thanks to Korea Post

South Korea Post