SEOUL, South Korea will re-examine thousands of unsuccessful applications for state recognition as an independence fighter, including those from socialist activists, this year, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said Wednesday.

In its written policy briefing to President Moon Jae-in, who is currently on an Asian trip, the ministry said it will push for a series of programs for national heroes, also including an inter-Korean plan to jointly excavate the remains of renowned independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the March 1, 1919, Independence Movement against Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule, the ministry plans to reexamine 24,737 hitherto unsuccessful bids to become a state-honored independence fighter.

The evaluations had been put on hold as they failed to meet such requirements as providing records of at least three months of imprisonment for independence campaigning. Of the total, 298 applicants failed to gain recognition due to their alleged roles in pro-communist activities after the country’s liberation in 1945.

But last year, the government eased the requirements and decided to review their applications on condition that they have clear records of participation in independence campaigns and did not contribute directly to the establishment of the communist regime in North Korea.

The ministry will re-examine all recognized independence fighters to find out if there were any pro-Japanese collaborators who made it to the list due to a lax evaluation program in the past.

The ministry also plans to push for an inter-Korean project to retrieve the remains of Ahn, who was put behind bars and executed for assassinating Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese resident-general of Korea, in China in 1909.

His remains are thought to be at a prison site in Dalian, northeastern China, where he died. From 2005-2007, the two Koreas formed a joint inspection team to carry out an onsite survey in Dalian.

In addition, the ministry intends to hold a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the country’s provisional government in Shanghai on April 11. 1919.

Source: Yonhap news Agency