Korea Military Academy to relocate bust of independence fighter amid debate over purported communist ties

The Korea Military Academy said Thursday it will remove the bust of revered independence fighter Hong Beom-do from its grounds following a heated debate over the defense ministry's push for the relocation.

The decision came as the ministry has recently been considering relocating the busts of Hong from the academy and its headquarters, both in Seoul, citing his past record of collaborating with Soviet communist forces.

"By considering the academy's identity and honoring (Hong) as an independence fighter, the bust of General Hong Beom-do will be relocated to an appropriate location outside the academy, where his independence movement achievements can be well displayed," the academy said in a statement.

It also decided to relocate the busts of five other independence fighters to other sites within its grounds, noting the relocation will consider opinions from the academy's graduates and staff members.

The push to relocate Hong's busts from the academy and the ministry's headquarters has sparked heated debate over its legitimacy, with the opposition Democratic Party and advocates for independence fighters strongly protesting against such considerations.

Hong is a historic and highly symbolic figure in Korea's fight against Japan's 1910-45 brutal colonial rule.

As top commander of Korean independence forces, he spearheaded victories in battles against Japanese forces, including the Battle of Fengwudong in Manchuria, China, in 1920. The following year, he moved to the Soviet Union, seeking refuge from Japan's forces.

He was forced to relocate to current-day Kazakhstan in 1937 under then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's policy, along with many other ethnic Koreans. He died at the age of 75 in the Kazakh region of Kyzylorda in 1943, two years before Korea's liberation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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