Seoul Ministry Plans Commemorative Events for 80th Anniversary of Korean Independence

SEOUL — The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs announced plans on Wednesday to mark the 80th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule with heartfelt programs aimed at honoring the country's patriots and veterans. Veterans Minister Kang Jung-ai, who took office last month, outlined the ministry's commitment to commemorating the sacrifices made by those who fought for Korea's independence between 1910 and 1945.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the ministry intends to organize events that will deeply resonate with the public, paying tribute to the indomitable spirit of independence fighters and veterans. Kang, who is both the daughter of a Korean War veteran and the spouse of an individual with family members who were independence fighters, emphasized the importance of unity in veterans affairs, advocating for an inclusive approach that transcends political divisions.

The announcement signifies a departure from the contentious tenure of Kang's predecessor, Park Min-sik, who faced criticism for his polarizing remarks on historical figures such as independence fighter Hong Beom-do and South Korea's first President, Rhee Syng-man. Last year, debates surrounding the legacy of Hong Beom-do emerged following attempts by the defense ministry and the Korea Military Academy to relocate his busts due to his association with Soviet forces. Additionally, the ministry's decision to name Rhee Syng-man, a figure with a controversial 12-year authoritarian rule, as January's independence activist of the month sparked further debate.

Kang's pledge to foster a non-divisive approach to veterans policies reflects an effort to bridge the gap between differing perspectives on Korea's historical figures and to celebrate the nation's liberation in a manner that unites rather than divides.

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